Overnight Prep

We’ve been focusing on Meal Planning and Prepping this month with a few ideas to save time and help get food on the table easier, including Progressive Cooking and Post-Market Prep. Another method, probably the easiest, is to prepare parts of a dish the night before: Overnight Prep. Let time work for you! The obvious example of this is slow-cooking, with which I have very little experience. (I sometimes do something similar in slow braising meats like the shorts ribs or pulled pork.) But my favorite practice is to soak breakfasts overnight. Do a little prep the night before, add a little chopped fruit in the morning or some time in the oven while you’re getting ready, and you can enjoy a delicious and filling breakfast!

1. Chia: (pictured)
Serves 2. Whisk together 4 tablespoons chia seeds, 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup, and 1 cup of milk (I use coconut milk with a little water added) in a bowl. Cover and chill overnight. In the morning, just stir and top with fruit (dried or fresh)!

2. Muesli:
Serves 2. Mix 3/4 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 medium apple (shredded), the fresh-squeezed juice of 1 orange, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Cover and chill overnight. In the morning, just top with fruit and maybe some toasted nuts!

3. Oatmeal:
Serves 2. In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water or a water/milk combo to a boil. Stir in 2/3 cup steel-cut or rolled oats and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute and let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, bring the oatmeal to a simmer and cook until tender, only a couple of minutes. Stir in a little extra milk, some chopped fruit, a sweetener to taste, some toasted nuts and maybe a splash of vanilla.

4. Egg Tomato Casserole:
Serves 4. Grease a 2-qt baking dish. Cut 4 slices of bread into 1-inch pieces and layer them in the dish. Cover with 1/2 cup shredded cheese. In a bowl, whisk together 5 eggs, 1/3 cup milk, a few chopped chives or scallions and salt and pepper. Pour over the bread and cheese layer and then top with slices of 1 tomato and another 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate. In the morning, just place in a 350° oven and bake for about 30 minutes (while you’re getting ready!) until the eggs are nearly set and the cheese is golden.

5. Baked French Toast:
Serves 4. Grease an 8" square baking dish or something comparable. Place 6 slices of bread (preferably day-old and thicker cut) in the dish. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the egg mixture over the bread then cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped nuts and another tablespoon of sugar. Cover with foil, place in a 375° oven and bake for about 25 minutes, and then uncovered for another 20 minutes until golden brown. Top with some fruit and/or syrup and enjoy!

Breakfast is a lot easier with these overnight recipes! I also make crepe batter, pancake batter and even bacon the night before. Yum!

Another cool idea, you can make-ahead smoothies for a few days or for the whole week! Check out these ideas from Hello Natural: How to Prep a Week's Worth of Green Smoothies and 10 3-Ingredient Smoothies You Can Make Ahead.

+ A note on my cooking and recipes: I keep a gluten-free house so all of the recipes I make are either gluten-free or easy to convert. They are delicious either way. You’ll see more of this with the Lean Pantry stuff. Thanks!