Is breakfast a struggle in your household? Does your determination to serve a healthy breakfast stress you out because it takes so long? Or do you resort to the same, boring breakfast day in and day out because it’s the only easy thing? Or you skip it all together? These dilemmas led to me assembling make-ahead mixes in a jar so we could have fancy breakfasts faster…and more often.
This idea came about one morning when I made baked oatmeal for breakfast. My daughter raved about how much she loves it, and asked why I don’t make it more often. Hmmm.
Pondering the issue of time (the problem), I realized that make-ahead dry mixes would speed up the process and remove my mental block.
I had already done this informally, putting dry ingredients for baked oatmeal a ziplock bag. Why not try this with other recipes for hot breakfasts that usually take more time?
Taking it a step further, cookie mixes in a jar are popular homemade gifts for holidays, so why not use that same idea for breakfasts, too? And so was born my idea for make-ahead mixes in a jar for fancy but fast, from-scratch, hot breakfasts.
This post will cover eight great reasons to try make-ahead mixes in a jar for breakfast. It will also provide everything you need to know for getting started—from criteria for choosing a recipe, to utensils needed, to the step-by-step process.
Why Use Make-Ahead Breakfast Mixes in a Jar?
Bright Spot to Busy Week
Who doesn’t love pancakes after days of cereal? Or baked oatmeal after the usual scrambled eggs and toast? Pancakes and muffins and baked breakfasts don’t have to wait for the weekend. They can be a happy spot in the middle of the school week.
More Filling Than Cereal
Cold cereal is neither cheap nor filling, nor, I would argue, very nutritious. (Most of the vitamins listed on the box are synthetic additives not found naturally in the main ingredients.) When I eat cold cereal, I need to eat a couple bowlfuls to hold me over till lunch time. If you think about it, cold cereals are pretty full of air.
Cooked breakfasts are more substantial.
Healthier Than Boxed Mixes or Frozen Options
Boxed mixes or frozen breakfast options can be loaded with sugar and contain artificial flavors. Making your own mixes allows you to tailor the sweetness to your family’s taste and stick to good, wholesome ingredients with no unnecessary additives.
Adaptable for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences
Along with choosing whole wheat instead of white flour or reducing the sugar in a recipe, other adaptations can be made. Gluten free flour can be substituted for regular, oats or flax seed could be added for fiber, or you could reduce the salt. Make-ahead mixes in a jar are as flexible as you want them to be.
Faster Than Cooking Breakfast from Scratch
…except that it IS from scratch.
Time is the obstacle to from-scratch meals. For me, it’s not the 30 minutes of baking time for something like baked oatmeal. No, that’s not a problem, because I can shove a pan in the oven and then empty the dishwasher or feed the baby while it bakes.
The issue (at least mentally) is the prep work: The gathering of ingredients…and measuring cups…and measuring spoons. The measuring and mixing of said ingredients…. And then the cleanup, of course.
But if I only have to gather 3 or 4 ingredients, and only need one bowl, then it feels so much easier! It’s the same cleanup whether I make one batch or twenty!
If I’m going to all this trouble, why not double, triple, or quadruple the recipe and have leftovers, or even meals (or desserts) to put in the freezer for later? I’m all about saving time and work while still cooking from scratch.
Easy to Assemble
So here is my solution to having fancy breakfasts fast on weekdays when we want something special instead of cereal, oatmeal, or eggs: Gather the ingredients and set up an assembly line of jars. In about the time it would take to whip up one recipe, voila! A whole row of jars to stock my pantry for coming weeks.
In fact, if you have time, assemble several jars of 2 or 3 recipes and have a nice rotation of hot breakfasts for a couple months!
Pretty in the Pantry
And who doesn’t love gazing at your pantry filled to bursting with pretty rows of good food waiting to happen? (Ok, maybe it’s just me.)
Great for Gifts
Not only do these make-ahead fancy breakfast mixes in a jar help bring fun breakfasts to busy week-day mornings, they also make great gifts for a holiday gifts. They also would be appropriate to give to a bereaved family to let them know you’re still thinking about them, to a new mother when she starts getting back on her feet, or to a friend “just because.”
How Do I Get Started with Make-Ahead Mixes in a Jar?
So you might be thinking that this sounds like a nice idea, but you’re not sure where to start. Consider these criteria for choosing recipes, as well as the ideas I have used. Then gather your equipment (and ingredients) and assemble your jars!
Criteria for Make-Ahead Mixes
These are the things that will make breakfast mixes in a jar work:
- Non-perishable ingredients
- Short list of wet ingredients to add (chopping fruit will add time)
- Simple directions (not too many steps to follow OR too many dirty dishes to clean up)
- Adaptable —extras can easily be added without change to basic mix
Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas
- Baked Oatmeal—this is the recipe I use
- Pancakes—I doubled the recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook so we have enough with leftovers
- Muffins—I chose a basic recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook so I can add a variety of extras, depending what I have on hand. Doubling the recipe saves time–extras can be frozen for even quicker breakfasts later.
- Clean quart jars with lids and rings, or plastic lids (pint jars for fewer people/smaller recipe)
- Wide funnel (like ones used for canning)
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- Spoon or knife for leveling
- Apron to keep flour off your clothes
Steps for Make-Ahead Mixes
- Prepare the jars: choose the size jar you need for your recipe, then wash and dry jars and lids ahead of time.
- Clear and wipe down large space on your counter or table.
- Set recipe somewhere visible from your work space. If desired, double recipe and write down new amounts for each ingredient, wet and dry.
- Gather ingredients and utensils.
- Line up jars on table or counter.
- Line up ingredients in order listed in recipe within easy reach. You may want to place messy ingredients like flour on a tray for easier cleanup.
- Place funnel in first jar, measure out first ingredient, pour into first jar, then move funnel to next jar.
- Repeat until first ingredient has been added to all jars.
- Return funnel to first jar and repeat process with next ingredient. (Skip the funnel for small ingredients that only require a teaspoon.)
- Continue until the jar is filled with all the dry ingredients from the recipe.
- Prepare labels. (You can find all sorts of fancy label ideas on Pinterest. For myself, I simply write the wet ingredients and baking directions on a small piece of paper and put it in the jar on top of the dry ingredients. I might even save them to reuse next time!)
- Screw lids onto finished jars of breakfast mix.
- Line up the jars neatly on your pantry shelf, ready for your next breakfast—or gift!