Eat Well, Spend Less: Back to School Breakfast (Recipe: Baked Oatmeal)

My lazy summer mornings are about to come to an end. Oh, how I have enjoyed not having to hustle my kindergartner out the door with a lunch and a school bag during these summer months.

I’ve been pregnant for the entire summer and mornings have not been my forte. The kids come and jump on me and we snuggle and read in bed until their tummies start rumbling. Yes, summer has been sweet.

However, as I slowly move out of the first trimester (can I get a high five?!) I feel my strength returning, just in time for fall, school, and those action-packed school-day mornings.

Energetic or not, pregnant or not, I need to have a morning plan. In this post I’ll show you my strategy for providing nourishing breakfasts this fall and throughout the winter. It’s simple, organized, and cost effective, perfect for the next installment of our Eat Well, Spend Less series.

Back-to-School Breakfasts

Here’s the honest truth: we eat a hot breakfast every day. Cold cereal only shows up on the occasional camping trip or when Mama is out of town (as I have frequently been this year).We eat hot cereal because we genuinely prefer it over cold. Hot cereal is also far more nourishing, keeps us feeling fuller longer, and is much more affordable!

My boys eat a large breakfast, usually a bowl of oatmeal, polenta with maple syrup, or Red River/ 7-Grain cereal. A jar collection on the table holds our favorite toppings:

  • wheat germ
  • ground flax
  • coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • dried cranberries
  • raisins
  • chopped nuts
  • honey
  • granola

One or twice a week, I’ll alternate hot cereal with one of the following quick meals:

Granola & Yogurt. Sometime the yogurt is homemade and sometimes it isn’t, but the granola is always from scratch. We love our chai-spiced granola, but have also been playing around with Mark Bittman’s Crunchy Granola.

Muffins, made ahead and frozen. Why use any recipe other than my Best Ever Muffins, with their many variations? As these muffins freeze well, I’ll often make a batch on the weekend and freeze eight or so for a weekday morning.

Pancakes, made from my mix. If I’m lucky I’ll have a jar of our favorite Buckwheat Pancake Mix in the freezer. It’s perfect for turning out pancakes on Friday morning for a special someone.

Quick Egg Sandwich, with ham and cheese. Also known as a ‘non-supper’, this fast eggy sandwich keeps you going until lunch. Add bacon strips and a sliced tomato to round out the breakfast.

Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits, with or without cottage cheese. Cheri’s got a healthy breakfast wrapped up with this idea for breakfast parfaits. Add in any fruit you like, as well as chopped nuts and seeds.

Smoothies, usually with a handful or two of quick oats blended in for fiber. They’re a fast way to get dairy, fruit and fiber in the morning.

Baked Oatmeal (recipe below), a favorite of my children, this hearty breakfast can be mixed up the evening before and baked off fresh and warm in the morning. Drizzle with cream and top with fresh fruit for the perfect start to the day.


Overnight Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 4-6
Adding a grated apple to the mix provided both sweetness and tang - and my boys can't pick out the lumps of fruit! Quebec apples are plentiful and fresh all winter long and are my fruit of choice for breakfast.

Applesauce cuts down on the fat in the recipe and also adds more flavor. If maple syrup is scarce, substitute honey or agave syrup in its place.
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 small apple, grated
  • 1 1/4 cups organic milk
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
Instructions
  1. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except the oats.
  3. Fold in oats and combine well.
  4. Transfer mixture into the buttered baking dish and spread evenly around. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly on top of the oat mixture. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. In the morning, preheat oven to 375°F (I have Danny do this when he gets up to shower). Unwrap oatmeal and place in oven. Bake for about 30 minutes until oatmeal is set and browned on top.
  6. Serve hot with more milk or cream.

 

Be sure to check out the other participating bloggers in our Eat Well, Spend Less series. For the duration of the week they will be adding their take on the back to school season.

How do you start your school mornings?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. We do a lot of oatmeal for breakfast, but never tried baked oatmeal! We will definitely be adding it to our list to try when it isn’t so hot out 🙂

  2. My family loves oatmeal and eats tons of it. This looks like a great and easy variation for us. I’m excited that I can make it the night before. That will free up some morning time for me. Thanks!

  3. I love the sound of this!

  4. Thanks for the reminder that when you’re pregnant and already have other kids, you’ve got to have a plan. I am about 7 wks. pregnant with my third and am so nauseous that I can hardly function. The thought of cooking is overwhelming and our meals have been less than balanced these days. My kids don’t mind eating cereal bars from Trader Joe’s, but I’m not thrilled with the idea. Agh! How do you function?

  5. Delicious! I bet the baked oatmeal would make for a great after-school snack as well.

  6. YUM. I’m going to try that baked oatmeal for getting ready for work morning!

    • I realized as I was meal planning today (and writing down what I need for the baked oatmeal), that there is an easy breakfast option that I like and forgot to mention: muesli, a cold oatmeal of sorts. It’s just as easy as your baked oatmeal.

      Ingredients: 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1/4 cup sliced almonds, 1/2 cup plain Greet yogurt, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 apple (diced), and 2-4 Tbsp honey.

      Directions: 1.) Bake almonds and oats on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown. After, transfer to a plate to cool. 2.) In a bowl, stir together the cooled oat mixture with the yogurt and milk. Cover and refrigerate until oats are soft, about an hour, or overnight. 3.) Serves 2. Divide evenly, top with apple, remaining toasted oat mixture and drizzle with honey.

  7. We love baked oatmeal. They make a great healthy breakfast. I make an apple cinnamon version, but have never tried maple syrup in mine. I am sure it adds a lot of flavor. I will have to try it soon in place of the sugar in mine.

  8. Matthias Etter says:

    We never had baked oatmeals before and i’ve definitely never thought that i can put some oatmeal on my smoothies as well. thanks for these great ideas, Aimee. Btw, with that angle in your picture, you have a cunning resemblance to a favorite stage actress of mine, Lea Salonga. She once starred in the play, Miss Saigon.

  9. Here’s an “outside the box” idea for a hot, hearty breakfast, especially on cold mornings….soup! I often have it and find it more satisfying than most typical breakfast foods. It can be something you can make prior to reheating. Remember, many countries (Asian, especially) do not have specific breakfast foods…it’s just another meal and they prepare a variety of items for the early morning meal. Try a hearty beef noodle one morning…you may really like it!

    • Very cool idea, Jan! I’m smiling now, though, as I imagine the reactions from my children. 🙂

    • Jan: My husband is from Taiwan and will eat anything for breakfast (can we say ribs???) I am a traditional breakfast person and have always been puzzled by this. I didn’t know it was a typical Asian thing though. Now it makes more sense.

      Aimee: Thanks for this post! I have clicked on all the links from this post, which led to clicking on other links on your blog and I now have some great new recipes to try.

  10. I love overnight oatmeal recipes. They’re so easy in the morning. I wish I had a bowl of this today. Looks delicious!

  11. Aimee, some great ideas. I second Jan’s comment. We often have miso soup with soba noodles, maybe with an egg dropped in, for breakfast.

    Egg sandwiches often finished off with chopped kale or a spoonful of black beans in a wrap.

    Question: Have you ever tried baked oatmeal with steel cut oats? We live on these. (I have a 25 lb bag in my basement). I’m assuming you’d just have to up the liquid a little but that the overnight soak should do most of the work.

  12. Wow – so many great recipes here! I can’t wait to try them! I’m having a problem though… I signed up for Plan to Eat a month or two ago, and love it, but saving recipes to Plan to Eat from this site doesn’t work very well, because PtE gets confused when there’s a lot of extra text in an articles. I was wondering if you might be able to add a link to a “recipe card” webpage that would have just the featured recipe, so that I can use my “Save Recipe” toolbar link to automatically file it? I know you’re busy this summer, with pregnancy etc., so I know it might not happen for awhile. Thanks so much for such great recipes!

  13. Love the use of applesauce to cut fat. Great recipe for busy school / work days.

  14. I’ve got a soft spot for breakfast recipes. All of yours look absolutely delicious!
    I love that I have all the ingredients on hand to make this-thanks!

    P.S. *high five!* 🙂

  15. Some awesome ideas here! I made my kids eat cereal so much of the time! Being prepared with more healthy alternatives is so important!
    Thanks!
    Bernice

  16. Umm…. is it just me, or does this recipe look suspiciously like “Apple Crisp for Breakfast?” And, if so, then I will absolutely be putting it on our menu!

    Love the topping ideas, too.

  17. I’ve been wanting to make baked oatmeal for ages, but have simply never found the time to make it in the morning when I want to eat it. Thanks for sharing this overnight recipe! I’m so excited to try it!

  18. Rebecca ~ Sweet Baby Yams says:

    I’ve never heard of baked oatmeal. I’ll have to try it when the weather starts to cool down. I love how you have the favorite toppings out in jars. Great idea!

  19. THIS looks fantastic, and right up my alley. My breakfast alley. y.u.m.

  20. This recipe looks great! Breakfast is the area where I struggle most as a mom, because I am NOT a morning person! I love the thought of having it ready the night before.

    I have a question, though… How do you put a cold baking dish into a hot oven without it cracking?

    • Good question, Julie. This hasn’t been a problem for me – yet. I use casserole dishes from Le Creuset and they are amazing.

      When you preheat your oven, be sure to take the dish out of the fridge. That way it will have a little time to come to room temperature.

  21. This recipe sounds really yummy

    Another idea is frying up polenta from last night and serving with a bit of cheese and sour cream plus a tomato slice and mushrooms (my kids love them)

  22. I have enjoyed this dish in my crock pot, for a few years now: http://christine-mary.blogspot.com/2010/08/apple-cinnamon-overnight-oatmeal.html . I love waking up to a house that smells like apple pie!

  23. Great recipe! I’m not a fan of “regular” oatmeal, but I do love baked oatmeal. Yum! 🙂

  24. yummm,,yummm,,yummm…deliciouso,,,looks like it taste good..:):)

  25. I admit, most of the time I just have toast for breakfast, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change. I like the idea of baked oatmeal. My husband used to go to work early and take his breakfast with him, but he’s decided he likes eating breakfast at home too much to continue doing that! Baked oatmeal would be a perfect breakfast to share. Thanks for posting!

  26. So do you put the raw wheat germ and flax meal and granola etc ON TOP OF the cooked oatmeal?

  27. I’m thinking it’s not the best idea to read food blogs at 8:30am, my bowl of cereal simply didn’t cut it! Love this baked oatmeal!

  28. Tres Delicious says:

    Great! a baked oatmeal. I could have more of this for breakfast.

  29. This is a fantastic recipe. I made this for big breakfast Sunday and can’t wait for the leftovers later this week during our busy mornings!

  30. This sounds like a delicious oatmeal recipe. We will certainly be giving this one a try as the kids go back to school. Thanks for sharing.

  31. You have managed to make boring old oatmeal come alive in a wonderful way! what a great idea. Thanks.

  32. Making this tonight for tomorrow’s breakfast! Thanks, Aimee!

  33. FYI. While I didn’t test your recipe, I did test mine (http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/07/raspberry-baked-oatmeal/) for the freezer. It worked really well to freeze it unbaked, thaw for 24 hours, and then bake in the morning. I’m guessing this recipe might work that way as well. 😉

  34. Aimee,
    Is there any reason that it *has* to be refrigerated overnight? I have to be out the door by 6:30 am so I’d much rather bake the night before immediately after mixing it together. Then, I could just reheat a portion in the morning. Thoughts?

  35. I’m not a big fan of regular oatmeal, but I love baked oatmeal. I usually bake a pan on Sunday and reheat portions throughout the week. I have been using an egg-free recipe I found on vegfamily.com (not a vegan, just don’t always have eggs!), but I’ll have to give this recipe a try too. I like to include wheat germ and a few chocolate chips in mine, but a handful of nuts and/or dried fruit are good too.

  36. Have you ever made the baked oatmeal with Irish steel cut oats? I love them, but wonder if they’d work?

  37. I had never heard of baked oatmeal before but I am inlove now!! Just finished eating this for breakfast and both hubby and I LOVED it. Any ideas on the best way to reheat leftovers??

  38. this was really good 😉 my kids ate it up!

  39. Just wanted to leave a quick note (a few months later) to let you know how much we LOVE this recipe. We have been eating it pretty much everyday. It’s great leftover too, so I’ve taken to making a double batch. It has spoiled my boys and me for regular oatmeal…it’s so good! Thanks!

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