It’s 6:03am. The youngest kids are awake and crying and you know the first words out of the littlest one’s mouth is going to be “I’m huunryy, mama.” You turn on the coffee pot and begin searching for options. What is for breakfast?
Whether you have one child or ten, having a plan for what to feed your people will make your mornings easier. Hungry children are grumpy children, and that’s no fun for anyone.
Over the years I have learned to cook breakfast foods in large enough quantities to last us about a week. We have pancakes every Saturday so I don’t count that in my baking day plans, and Sunday mornings go better if we have something that doesn’t need to be toasted, but other than that I don’t have much in the way of restrictions.
What’s Your Plan? Know what to make.
As a mom to 7 children, I need something I can make in bulk and that will keep well. I’m not particular about whether I keep it in the cabinet or the freezer, but it has to be able to keep for a time and serve relatively well when its time comes. It also has to be pretty easy to make; I just don’t have time for anything too complex. For us, that typically means bread (stores in the cabinet for a few days), muffins (store best in the cabinet for a day or two or maybe in the freezer), scones (freeze and thaw really well so these are one of my favorites), and granola (stored in big plastic food grade bucket).
Once a week, usually on a day when I don’t have to go out, I bake breakfast foods. I might also make bread that day, but not necessarily. Today was baking day in part because I was just about out of bread and in part because the youngest kids were up at 5:23 and well, I might as well. The older kids woke to fresh muffins coming out of the oven. Yum!
How I Make It
First I started with muffins. Several years ago I found a recipe for Master Muffin Mix from Gina at Home Joys; I tweaked it a little to make it work for us. It’s great – I mix up a big batch of it and keep it in a Rubbermaid container. I can use it for muffins or for coffee cake and this recipe lasts me about a month or so – I think? Not really sure.
One of the things I loved about Gina’s recipe is that she gave several options for liquid additions so I’m not out of luck if, say, I don’t have enough milk. (we went through a time with dairy free, egg free and this worked fine with almond milk). The liquid options she gives are:
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup yogurt (I have used sour cream here instead and had no problem)
1/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
First mix the liquid ingredients then add the dry ingredients (about 2.5 cups of master muffin mix plus mix ins) just to the point of being mixed together and spoon into muffin pans. Cook at 350 for about 18-20 minutes.
Sometimes I find the batter to be really thick (probably when I use option #3) and other times it pours, but my muffins always disappear:-)
Next up – scones
While the muffins bake, I mix up scones. I make two double batches – one with chocolate chips and one with peanut butter and chia seeds (I like the extra fiber and omegas in chia seeds). Below is the basic recipe I use. When I add the mix ins I just wing it. How much chocolate or peanut butter chips? Some – until it looks like enough. I would guess that a double batch gets close to 3 cups of chocolate chips. Keep in mind I am always doubling this recipe:
When I make my peanut butter ones I add about a tablespoon of chia seeds to the milk and just let it sit while I mix up the rest. If you just add the dry chia seeds they soak up the milk from the batter and everything comes out extra dry. Ask me how I know? Hmmm. Better to soak the seeds in the milk first and stir the milk/seed mix before you add the eggs. Trust me on this one. I add a good spoonful or two of peanut butter when I add in the butter. Press out onto a greased baking pan, cook for about 30 minutes and you’re done.
When I cut the scones (roughly 2″x2″, maybe a little bigger) I end up with about 3 days of breakfast for 7 kids plus a few extra. They only eat from the chocolate chip tray; Daddy might or might not want one and I eat the peanut butter ones. Mine last about 2 weeks.
Quick Word About Freezing Baked Goods
I used to hate freezing muffins because when you take them out of the freezer they come out all soggy. Then I noticed that places like Dunkin Donuts sprinkle coarse sugar on top of their blueberry muffins so I tried that. Okay – that was good and fun but I don’t recall it totally solving the problem. Finally it occurred to me after taking english muffins out of the freezer and putting them on the counter only to have soggy muffins the next morning that part pf the problem is the condensation in the plastic bag. Duh. So now I take the muffins out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator overnight. They are cold in the morning which the kids don’t always love, but better cold than soggy. Personally, I like my scones a little cold and even keep mine in the fridge.
So that’s it. By about 9:00 everything was done, people were snacking on muffins and the freezer was loaded up with scones. All in all I had 36 muffins and 2 large trays of scones – certainly enough to last me a week.
Tomorrow morning, when my 2 year old says “I’m hunnnnryyyy mama,” I can tell him to go get a muffin and put the wrapper in the trash. Dilemna solved.