You’ve probably heard the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Despite its role in kickstarting metabolism and providing much-needed energy for the day ahead, studies have found that nearly a quarter of individuals in the United States skip breakfast on a regular basis.
What gives? For many people, it boils down to time. Mornings are busy—and when you’re in a rush to get out the door, it’s easy to forego a nutritious meal.
The good news is, with just a small amount of time and preparation, you can commit to nourishing your body with a healthy and delicious breakfast seven days a week through meal prepping.
Importance of a Healthy Breakfast
Fueling your body with a nutritious breakfast first thing in the morning is essential for a number of reasons. If you’re regularly skipping breakfast or opting for a quick bowl of sugary cereal in lieu of a balanced meal, you could be missing out.
How It Affects Your Metabolism
The human body is regulated by its circadian rhythm, which is controlled not just by the light/dark cycle but also by your food intake. Eating breakfast shortly after waking up signifies to the body that it’s time to get your metabolism into gear. Regularly missing breakfast can slow down your metabolism over time—which may result in unwanted weight gain or greater difficulty losing weight.
Its Impact on Cognitive Functions
Have you ever had a hard time concentrating due to hunger? Maybe you’ve even experienced the dreaded “hanger,” where your mood is adversely affected because you need to eat.
Much of this has to do with a drop in blood sugar that occurs when you haven’t eaten for a prolonged period of time. When blood sugar drops, your cognitive function can suffer; you may be irritable, have difficulty focusing, and even experience faintness or shakiness. By consuming a healthy meal first thing in the morning, you can get your brain and body off to a solid start.
What Is Meal Prepping?
Now that you have a better understanding of why breakfast is so important, you may wonder how you can work this meal into your day more consistently. For many busy people, meal prep is the answer.
Meal prepping refers to the process of preparing and portioning meals ahead of time so they can be readily enjoyed with minimal effort. People who meal prep may make all their breakfasts for the week on Sunday afternoon, or they might prep individually each evening. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you.
Benefits of Breakfast Meal Prep
There are various advantages to meal prepping your breakfasts, including:
- Time savings – By setting aside a little bit of time once a week (or once per evening), you can save yourself the time and stress that comes along with trying to cook a nutritious breakfast during your busy mornings.
- Portion control – Meal planning is an excellent way to ensure you’re sticking to a healthy portion of food, especially since most meal prep breakfasts are portioned out before they are refrigerated or frozen.
- Weight management – If you’re looking to maintain weight or lose weight, the portion control plus improved nutrition that comes with prepping your breakfasts could help you stick to your plan.
- Nutritional balance – Meal prepping forces you to think more carefully about what you eat in the mornings. As a result, you may find that you enjoy more nutritionally balanced meals when you follow a meal prep plan.
Planning for a Successful Breakfast Meal Prep
Before you get started meal prepping or even choosing some recipes to try, it’s key to create a general meal prep plan. This should include details on how often you’ll prepare food (e.g., once per week or once each night), how you’ll store it, and what else you might need to carry out your plan consistently.
Essential Tools and Equipment
The tools and equipment needed for meal prepping ultimately depend on what kinds of recipes most appeal to you. In general, however, you’ll want to make sure you have some quality meal prep containers. This may include mason jars, divided plastic or glass containers with lids, and more.
If you’re interested in incorporating smoothies into your meal prep plan, then a quality blender is also a must. Many prepped breakfasts are stored in the fridge or freezer. Some (like overnight oats) are meant to be eaten cold, but others will need to be heated up—so a microwave can be convenient.
Healthy Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas
Not sure where to begin when it comes to prepping your breakfasts ahead of time? The possibilities are endless, though there are a handful of tried-and-true favorites you may want to try for yourself.
Overnight oats are a meal prep favorite for breakfast-lovers because they’re easy to make, versatile, and nutritious. Most overnight oat recipes use quick oats (also known as one-minute oats) to soften quickly overnight. They can be sweetened with anything from maple syrup to honey and are delicious topped with fresh fruit or other mix-ins like peanut butter.
The best part? Once overnight oats are prepped and portioned, you can simply grab them out of the fridge and go. They can also be refrigerated for several days, so prepping enough for most of the week is a breeze.
Chia Seed Pudding
Another great option to get you going in the morning is chia seed pudding, which is loaded with protein and fiber to fuel your day. Even better, you can prep a whole week’s worth of chia seed pudding in just a few minutes.
There are numerous variations of chia seed pudding, so you can find one that best suits your tastes. One simple recipe is to add two tablespoons of chia seeds to half a cup of milk. Then, add a teaspoon of honey, mix well, and place in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to enjoy, just top with your favorite fruit and dig in!
Eggs are a breakfast staple, but they can also require a little too much time to make on those hectic mornings. Fortunately, you can make eggs ahead of time and simply reheat them in the microwave for a high-protein and savory breakfast.
Egg muffins are an excellent way to do this: Scramble some eggs in a mixing bowl, then pour the scrambled eggs into a mini muffin tin before adding your choice of toppings (some favorites include cheese, bacon, and fresh veggies). Bake for around eight to 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then freeze or refrigerate. You can pop these in the microwave each morning for a quick, healthy breakfast that’s perfect on the go. Alternatively, you could try prepping burritos with scrambled eggs for a more filling twist.
What beats the refreshing taste of a freshly blended smoothie first thing in the morning? Yet, unfortunately, many don’t have the time to chop up fruit and portion out ingredients to blend a smoothie from scratch each morning.
Fortunately, smoothies can be prepped ahead of time to make for a fast and nutritious breakfast. Simply chop and portion all your fruit and veggie ingredients, then store in baggies or jars in your freezer. When it’s time to whip up a smoothie, dump the contents into your blender, add your liquid (such as milk), blend, and enjoy.
Looking for a high-protein breakfast that’s versatile and easy to make ahead of time? Try a batch of yogurt parfaits. With these, all you need to do is layer your choice of yogurt and fruit in a mason jar, followed by a sprinkle of granola on top. You can keep these in the fridge for up to five days.
To keep granola from getting soggy, consider portioning it separately in a small container so you can sprinkle it on top before eating. Add a little variety to this meal by incorporating different fruits or styles of yogurt each week.
Granola can be a delicious breakfast on its own or atop your favorite yogurt or oatmeal. If you’ve ever shopped for granola at the store, though, you might know that it can be pretty expensive.
Thankfully, you can make your own and incorporate it into your weekly meal prep. Try this recipe that starts with four cups of rolled oats (gluten-free if you prefer); your choice of 1 ½ cups raw nuts, spices, dried fruit; and a sweetener (maple syrup or honey).
Who doesn’t love a slice of avocado toast in the morning? At the same time, avocado tends to brown quickly—so it’s perhaps not an ingredient most prefer when they think about meal prepping.
However, you can meal prep your avocado toast by mashing your avocado, squeezing a little lemon or lime juice on top, and placing it in an airtight container to prevent browning. From there, all you need to do in the morning is pop a piece of bread in the toaster and add your avocado spread.
Common Breakfast Meal Prep Mistakes to Avoid
Maximize your chances of long-term meal planning success by avoiding these common mistakes:
- Ignoring nutritional balance – Make sure you have a good balance of healthy fats, protein, and complex carbs with each meal.
- Overcomplicating the process – Stick to only one or two meal prep recipes per week to keep things manageable.
- Not considering personal taste preferences – Alter recipes to suit your tastes!
Are You Ready to Make Your Mornings Easier With Healthy Breakfast Meal Preps?
Taking the time to prep your breakfast can save you significant stress in the mornings while ensuring you start your day with the proper nutrition.
Ready to learn more about nutrition and its role in our health and wellness? Explore Johnson & Wales University’s online master’s degree in nutrition.