Make-Ahead Breakfasts for Your Shifts

We’ve all been there, your alarm goes off, and you accidentally hit snooze. You’re scrambling as you finally roll out of bed to pack any food that you can find. It’s daunting to head in for a 12-hour shift with no food in hand. Some hospitals don’t have easy-to-get to cafeterias—plus buying food gets really pricey, really quickly.

I love the days when I have time to meal prep. Everything feel so much more organized and put together when I have my breakfast and lunch all packed up when I go to bed before my shifts. I wanted to compile a list of some of my favorite easy, make-ahead breakfasts that you can make, freeze, and pack for work. Below is everything from sheet casseroles, to breakfast bars, and tofu scrambles! 

Egg Casserole

In my household, this is a traditional holiday breakfast. My mom makes a similar recipe every Christmas, so this meal always feels like home. They’re easy to make, absolutely delicious, and really filling. There are hundreds of recipes out there, and in general, they all hold up really well in the freezer. This recipe is delicious. We usually cube some pieces of old bread and layer that along the bottom for some extra fluff. It gives it a bit of a soufflé texture. Omit and add whatever you’d like! If you’re out of sour cream, adding extra milk (or whatever milk substitute you use) will do the trick! Once you get to work, just pop it in the microwave, and you’re good to go.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are a healthy, hearty, no-cook meal you can whip up in one bowl in less than 15 minutes. I love storing single portions in mason jars or smaller 8-12 oz Tupperware for easy grab and go access. They stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days, and you can also freeze after letting them sit overnight.

The “Feel Good Foodie” link has four or five recipes that are helpful in figuring out ratios of ingredients. When I first started making overnight oats, they always ended up like a solid piece of goop…not very appetizing. This recipe is super helpful for perfecting the ratio of wet to dry ingredients! I added the Minimalist Baker recipe, because who doesn’t love nut butters in their oats?? Plus, the added protein will keep you from getting groggy on a long shift.

Breakfast Bars

If you’re not much of a classic breakfast eater, breakfast bars are a much better, more snack-like option. Some days, you’re not super hungry, but you know you should eat a little something before you’re stuck on the unit for 5 hours before you can grab something to eat. These oatmeal breakfast bars are a perfect fix for those mornings. They’re healthy and great to make ahead and freeze for up to 4 months. They’re light in calories, and high in fiber and protein!

Another delicious breakfast bar, with maybe the most iconic flavor combos are these chocolate and peanut butter granola bars. They’re no-bake and sooo tasty! Just mix the ingredients, press into a pan, and cool. The author of Feel Good Foodie talks about these for kids, but let’s face it, nurses like kid food too. They stay fresh in the fridge for 7 days and freezer for 3 months!

Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast burritos are packed with flavor and tons of protein to keep you full well into your day. These only take about 30 minutes to make and stay fresh in the freezer for up to one month. To reheat, you can either pop them in the microwave or sauté them for a few minute on the stove. This recipe has a vegetarian option as well, just swap the meat for beans or a meat substitute. Impossible makes a great ground meat that would go well here.

Tofu Scramble

I try to eat vegetarian almost of the time, and I recently found out I have a minor egg allergy. So for those of you who have cut eggs out of their diet, or don’t like eggs to begin with, this is a perfect breakfast hack for you. I love making tofu “egg” scrambles and putting them into a burrito. Whenever you’re using tofu (stick with extra-firm or firm tofu), press out excess liquid. This allows the tofu to soak up the flavors and spices you add to the dish. I promise it won’t be too dry, and if you feel it’s on the drier side when you’re done cooking it, add a little salsa for that extra oomph!

I’m a huge Fan of the Thug Kitchen recipe books. In one of the books they have a really tasty tofu scramble that I’ve started making pretty often. All of their books are vegetarian and vegan, so a major ingredient used is nutritional yeast. It adds a really cheesy flavor and contains tons of protein and vitamin B for energy. I highly recommend adding that into these breakfast dishes.

Yogurt parfait

Yogurt parfaits are refreshing and light, but also surprisingly filling. I’m all for anything with berries to pack in the antioxidants! Try adding some coconut flakes, dried fruit, or nuts/seeds to give a little extra texture and more nutrients as well. I really like hemp seeds in yogurt to add texture and extra fiber. You can make several servings of yogurt parfaits, stored in mason jars, so you have a couple days prepared.

Egg Bites

Here’s a keto-friendly recipe, and it’s a knock off of the Starbucks egg bites. They’re so delicious and pack a ton of flavor with the bacon and gruyere cheese. These stay fresh in the fridge for 3 days and 2 months in the freezer. These only take about 35-40 minutes to make the first time, and you can double the recipe to make 24 egg bites. They’re a perfect grab and go breakfast to bring to work.

If you don’t eat meat, add some sautéed peppers, mushrooms, or onions instead. They taste just as good as the egg bites from Starbucks, and you’ll save quite a bit of money too.

Written by: Claire Lang BSN-RN, RYT-200

Operation Happy Nurse

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