Friday, November 11, 2011

Quick breakfasts for non-morning people.

I am a caregiver for my mother, who has dementia and a number of other disorders, which makes life hard. I have never, and never will be, a morning person. Ever. Never, ever, EVER!

That said, it is imperative that she eat something in the morning, so she can have her medicine and because she takes her medicine twice a day, they must be spaced out so despite my issues with mornings, I must conform to breakfast making, even though I hate it. Oh and did I mention that she refuses to eat anything not hot? Oh, yes. My mother can be quite difficult.

So! I set out to find a way to make it much, MUCH easier for me to make a fast (hot) breakfast. With a little pre-planning and ingenuity, I found that it really wasn't that bad. Again, pre-planning was a must.

For variety, I tried to come up with several different breakfasts daily. Honestly, she likely wouldn't remember what I fixed her yesterday, but for my own peace of mind, I wanted it different.

So let's get to it!

Item #1: Breakfast Burritos

A truly best friend. I have my own personal recipe that I invented over a period of years to make it perfection. However, it's a Southwestern style recipe, which gets boring day in and day out, as well as constant burritos every single day of your life. Still, you can make them in bulk and freeze them, then reheat in the microwave. That makes a nice filling, hot breakfast in about 2-3 minutes.

Item #2: Oatmeal

Oatmeal can be made dozens of ways. It's not only good for you, it's good for digestion which is essential in the elderly. Many say that oatmeal should be served at least every other day for them. The possibilities with this is endless too. The problem is who wants to eat oatmeal for breakfast (if doing it every other day) for half of their remaining life? Very few. Still, you can do a few things in advance, so that when it comes time to make it, it will take minimal effort to fix.

Before we go on, it must be noted that you can purchase a variety of flavors in a ready-made box that is enticing because of its convenience. However, it's not as nutritionally adequate as it would be if you did it yourself. For example I found that the fruit I add in, is nearly 4 times the amount that they put in. Instead, they add vitamins to supplement actual fruit. I'm no nutrition nazi, but my mother really does need better nutrition (she is anemic in a variety of ways).

Perhaps I'll post recipes later, but what you need to know is how to pre-prepare (sic) them so that when it's time to prepare, it's quick. I fill baggies with oats, add the spices I want for each particular type of oatmeal (e.g., cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar for apples), label and seal. Then I freeze other ingredients that I'd have to prepare or measure out (which must be refrigerated). Using my apple example, in a freezer bag, I would mix freshly peeled, dipped in ascorbic acid and diced apples with the amount and type of liquid I would use for the oatmeal (in this case I use half apple juice and half milk), then freeze. When it comes time, I simply place the frozen apple block in a bowl, microwave until it melts (usually less than 1 minute in mine), stir in the baggie contents, then microwave according to quick oats package directions (usually 1 min., 30 sec). A hot satisfying, nutritional breakfast all in less than five minutes!

Item #3: Breakfast sandwiches

Like burritos, you can cook-up the ingredients, assemble the sandwiches and freeze individually. Instead of bread, you can use biscuits, English muffins, croissants or whatever else too.

Item #4: Breakfast casseroles

These are a favorite by many people. For most, you can assemble the casserole and freeze it for later use. For me though, I don't personally like them. There are tons of "Christmas morning casserole" recipes out there and I've tried a number of them, without being impressed. I finally gave up. I must be unlike most people because nearly all of them get rave reviews, so you can try it and see for yourself what you think.

Item #6: Full plate breakfast

You see TV dinner like breakfasts in the freezer section of your grocer, unfortunately I cannot duplicate this as well as they do. If you have some other ideas, please share them. The problem is the length of time it takes one dish vs another dish to heat from a frozen serving. For example, it takes only seconds to heat frozen eggs, but a frozen sausage patty takes longer. Plus, to do it properly, you'd need a sectional dish (or else your gravy (for biscuits and gravy) ends up in your eggs and that's just crazy to buy a bunch of those just for freezing purposes. The only alternative I can see are freezing individual servings of each type of item, then mixing and matching for a full plate of breakfast. That's really the only thing I can think of and still make it workable. The benefit to this method, of course, is that today you can have eggs, biscuits and gravy and juice or milk. Tomorrow you could have eggs, grits, bacon and toast with juice or milk. Not that bacon and grits are good reheated. Another item that doesn't reheat well are potatoes, such as hash browns.
As you can see, you can cut the breakfast time by loads if you plan ahead. Unfortunately good large breakfasts, like my southern breakfasts, are not so easily done. On the other hand, large breakfasts make great dinners!

Do you have some ideas?

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