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Make-Ahead Breakfasts for Shift Workers

Breakfast might be the meal of champions, but the real winner here is meal prepping.

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It took me a long time to convince myself that it was worth prepping breakfasts. After all, how hard was it to fry up some eggs and throw something in the toaster?

But then one day I realized that it wasn’t about the 5 minutes it took to make breakfast. It was about creating dishes before the day had even begun. And occasionally running out of breakfast staples and realizing it too late. Add in shift work and you can see how this quickly becomes the stuff of nightmares.

So for the sake of fewer dishes and more enjoyable mornings, I came up with three surefire meal prep breakfast ideas. I honestly make these allllll the time and I’m legitimately thrilled to share these batch cooking ideas with you. Best of all, these don’t need to be limited to breakfast: these are all portable and nutritious meals to eat on the way to your shift, as a midnight meal, or a 4 AM pick-me-up


Breakfast burritos

The recipe that started it all for me was Gimme Some Oven’s Freezer Breakfast Burritos. Mexican food for breakfast? Yes, please. You can prepare a few weeks’ worth of them in under an hour. They are stuffed with onion, potatoes, bell pepper, scrambled eggs, black beans, and cheese. Yummmmy AND nutritious! She also has some great options to customize them: adding breakfast sausage, bacon, diced ham, jalapeno, Pepper Jack shredded cheese, zucchini, or butternut squash.

As much as I love Mexican flavours, I found myself also exploring other savoury options. Here’s my absolute top pick for breakfast burrito stuffing:

  • Onions
  • Spicy Italian sausage
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chopped kale
  • Goat cheese


Looking for a vegan option? If you happen to have Love and Lemons’ latest cookbook, she has an amazing recipe for Curried Lentil Freezer Burritos on page 37.


Breakfast sandwiches

My perfect breakfast sandwich is very simple: an English muffin (I like Ezekiel ones with sprouted grains), a fried egg, a slice of old cheddar cheese or Havarti, and a smear of hot pepper jelly. 

Of course, you can make yourself a fresh breakfast sandwich on the fly. But if you’re looking to leverage the full benefits of batch cooking, try making several at a time. But here’s the big question: how to make a bunch of perfect eggs at the same time? 

I thought about this for a long time until I stumbled upon the perfect solution to make a dozen at a time: a muffin-top baking pan. I combed through many products and their reviews to find this one. It’s perfect because it’s shallow and makes 12 round eggs the exact size of an English muffin. I grease each cup with butter, crack the eggs, and bake at 325 F for 15 mins. 

  1. Cook the eggs (325 F for 15 mins in pan mentioned above)
  2. Slice the English muffins
  3. Add a cooked egg to one slice of each pair
  4. Cover with a slice of cheese
  5. Smear hot pepper jelly, if using, on the other slice
  6. Wrap each breakfast sandwich tightly in tinfoil
  7. Add the wrapped sandwiches to a large Ziploc bag
  8. Freeze! 
  9. When ready to eat, remove the foil and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (If you have time, let it defrost in the fridge first.)


Freezer smoothies

After years of making full blenders of smoothies (despite trying to just make one or two servings), I discovered the joy of using the Ninja single-serve option. This sold me on the idea of single-serve smoothies. Then I thought: what if I used batch cooking to prepare more of these at a time? 

I’ve tried a few options but here’s the BEST one: make an entire blender jar of smoothie and then pour it into mason jars. I strongly prefer the tall, wide-mouthed ones with straight sides (here’s an example of what I mean) because they’re the easiest ones to fill and also clean up afterwards. I also like to swap out the metal lids for plastic lids (I have these multi-coloured ones and love them) before popping them in the freezer. 

Last time I posted a photo of a batch of freezer smoothies, the main question I got was how I defrost them. Here are two ways:

  • Grab from the freezer and throw into your work bag so it’ll be defrosted partway through your shift.
  • Or, better yet, defrost it overnight (or while you’re sleeping during the day) in the fridge.


Oh, one last thing: I find them easiest to drink with wide metal straws although glass ones might work well too. Just make sure to buy ones that come with a little cleaning brush!

Okay, it’s your turn now. What are your fav make-ahead breakfasts?


Last updated: 2024-03-11

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Lauren McGill

I work at the intersection of healthcare and storytelling. As a medical writer, I help healthcare experts publish content so they stand out as thought leaders.

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