breakfast ideas
Work Life

7 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 without any 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 feels 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 you can make, freeze and pack for work. Below is everything from sheet casseroles to breakfast bars and tofu scrambles.

7 Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas

1. Egg Casserole

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.

2. Overnight Oats

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. containers for easy grab-and-go access. They stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days, and you can also freeze them after letting them sit overnight.

The “Feel Good Foodie” link has four or five recipes that are helpful in figuring out the 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.

3. Breakfast Bars

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 fit 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.

These chocolate and peanut butter granola bars are another delicious breakfast bar with maybe the most iconic flavor combos. They’re no-bake and so 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’s food, too. They stay fresh in the fridge for 7 days and freezer for 3 months.

4. Breakfast Burritos

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 1 month. To reheat, you can either pop them in the microwave or sauté them for a few minutes 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.

5. Tofu Scramble

tofu scramble

I try to eat vegetarian most 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 your 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 their books are vegetarian and vegan, so nutritional yeast is a major ingredient. It adds a really cheesy flavor and contains tons of protein and vitamin B for energy. I highly recommend adding that to these breakfast dishes.

6. Yogurt Parfait

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, granola, dried fruit or nuts/seeds to give a little extra texture and more nutrients. 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 of days prepared ahead.

7. Egg Bites

egg bites

Here’s a keto-friendly and gluten-free recipe that’s a dupe of the big coffee chain’s egg bites. They’re so delicious and pack a ton of flavor with 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 2 dozen 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 egg bites from Starbucks, and you’ll save quite a bit of money, too.

Operation Happy Nurse

Operation Happy Nurse is a nonprofit group that provides mental health and wellness resources for healthcare professionals. Their mission is to help all nurses struggling with stress, anxiety and/or depression by creating a community focused on improving overall mental health and physical well-being.

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