Ask the Readers: How do I make a fresh-baked breakfast without spending an hour each morning to do so?

Stephanie emailed me yesterday with this question:

I just read your Baking Day entries. I have a question that I hope you can answer. I see where you are baking things to last for a couple of weeks and was wondering if you have any suggestions about how to save time when someone like me has a very picky husband and 15-year-old son who only like fresh stuff (pancakes, muffins, etc.)?

Do you have any suggestions on how to make my "fresh baked" things any more time-saving? Would the pancake batter or muffin batter still taste the same if I refrigerated it the night before and just put it in the oven the next morning at 4:30 a.m. (my husband leaves for work at 5:30 a.m.)?

First off, I'd encourage you to perhaps discuss with your husband/son the possibility of making some fresh stuff and some frozen and re-heated stuff each week. Maybe that's not an option, but maybe you could come to a happy medium that works for everyone?

Secondly, there are many batter recipes which can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, and then used in the morning. I'd experiment with some of your favorite muffin, pancake, waffle, and french toast batter recipes and see how they work. You might even try make a double batch up and using it for two mornings. (See some muffins recipes here to get started with ideas.)

Other recipes which work well being made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight are coffee cakes, french toast, and breakfast casseroles. You might also consider using your crockpot.

To further speed up the preparation of these recipes the night before,
if you have a block of 30 minutes sometime, you might consider putting
together baking mixes with the dry ingredients from your favorite
muffin, pancake, coffee cake, and waffle recipes. If you know you like the recipe
and you'll be making it a lot, you might as well mix up a bunch to have
on hand!

Personally, if I were in your shoes and my husband left for work at 5:30 a.m., I'd likely come up with a plan where some mornings we'd do cold cereal, some mornings we'd do toast and eggs, some mornings we'd do something like waffles or coffeecake that I'd made up the night before. This way, we'd be having a nice variety of breakfasts–some which were fresh-baked–but I wouldn't have to get up an hour ahead of time or more to get them on the table!

Those are just a few of my ideas, I'd love to hear other readers' helpful input on Stephanie's question. Perhaps some of you are in a similar situation and can give some practical advice as to what has worked for you? Or if you have any delicious recipes which can be made overnight and refrigerated, please do share those as well!

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Free Breyer’s yogurt

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The 10/26 Red Plum insert had a coupon for $0.50/1 Breyer's product. While ice cream is pictured on the coupon, the text says that it is good on ANY Breyer's product. If your store carries the single cups of Breyer's yogurt, this coupon will make them free or almost free. If your store doubles coupons, these should be free plus overage!

Thanks, Kasey!

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Dillons: Deals good through November 4, 2008

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Since I now live in the land of Dillons again (a Kroger affiliate store), I'm going to try to keep you up-to-date with the best deals there, when there are deals there to speak of. Some of these deals will be available at other Kroger stores across the nation, some are likely only good for those with actual Dillons stores.

Go here to read the listing that Lorrie has put together for deals there including vegetables and shampoo for $0.17 each!. And go here to read how you can get free Idahoan potatoes this week.

And yes, I'm highly motivated now and going to "take the plunge" into modern technology and try my hand at the e-coupons. I just can't pass up such sweet deals. Stay tuned to hear how it goes for me after my next shopping trip!

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$2/1 Kashi cereal bars coupon

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Kashi recently introduced a new product to the market–Kashi cereal bars. These bars are similar to Nutri-Grain bars but with the healthful goodness of Kashi!

On sale these bars are likely around $2.50 or so. Use this $2/1 coupon to snag a great deal on a yummy new product. By the way, let us know what you find these regularly-priced at in your stores. I'm guessing somewhere around $3.50 or so, but I've not checked yet. (Thanks, Jaycie!)

More printable coupons:

$2/1 Bertolli oven-baked meal (Thanks, Melanie!)

$1/1 Bertolli sauce (Thanks, Melanie!)

Progresso soup coupons (Thanks, Christina!)

FOR MORE COUPONS, search our comprehensive Coupon Database for manufacturer coupons, printable coupons, eCoupons, and more!

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Baking Day – Part 4

The beans and rice are cooled and divided into bags, the pancake mix is made to have on hand for later, the two packages of chicken breasts are boiled and diced and frozen, and the double batch of whole wheat pancakes is finished and in the freezer. And whew! I'm wiped! I poured myself a glass of orange juice and made
myself a fruit salad and I'm putting my feet up until Kaitlynn's nap time is over.

Here's the end result of all of our baking/cooking/kitchen work:

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It really doesn't look like all that much, but having the makings of a number of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners already on hand and in the freezer is so helpful. If you've never tried baking ahead or cooking up meat and freezing it, I'd highly encourage you to test it out. You might find, like me, that it's a huge time-saver, money-saver, and life-saver.

There were a number of questions left in the comments section of the Baking Day posts, many which were answered by other commentors. However, I wanted to specially answer two of them since they were directed at me:

Oooo, I hope you post about the
pot of beans. It sounds silly, but I haven't a clue how to soak and
cook beans, and then how to incorporate them into yummy recipes. I'd
sure love to learn, because it sounds a LOT cheaper (and more
healthful) to not use canned beans for everything.-Katy


To be honest, it's not hard so don't be intimidated! I just take a bag of beans, dump it in a big pot, run water over it and swish it around, then drain the water. I refill the pot with enough water to cover the beans and put them on the stove to boil.

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Once they boil, I turn the stove down to medium heat or so–enough to keep them going at a soft boil. As the water evaporates, I add more. Every 30 minutes or so, I check them to see if they're doing yet and continue to add water as needed. I just keep boiling them until they are cooked and then let them cool and fill bags with them. If you like, you can add a few teaspoons salt to them while they are boiling.

I use these in Mexican recipes, in soups, when we have beans and rice and cheese for lunch, or in some of our other favorite bean recipes.

I really do try to involve my kids in kitchen stuff,
and it worked pretty well after my first turned 2. But how can you
manage to be so productive with a 1-year-old around? When I cook dinner
each night, my 1-year-old often tears the house apart. So yeah, I got
something done, but I have to spend just as long after wards cleaning
up. Do you use a playpen? My 4-year-old would be a good helper during
ONE of these projects, but she would lose interest after that and start
fighting with her sister instead or (if I'm lucky) go off and read or
play by herself.

Well, I think the real answer is that Kaitlynn is only 16 months old and she still takes two naps each day–that's usually when I get the most work done here! She is a very busy little girl when she's awake so I must always be near her to make sure she stays safe and nothing catastrophic happens!

This morning, while she wasn't napping, I had her playing in the kitchen with some different toys and objects I gave to her. I also gave her a snack and that kept her preoccupied for awhile. But things did get a little messy–which I fully expected.

Kathrynne (3 1/2), on the other hand, is usually a great help to me. This morning, she helped with watching Kaitlynn, picking up toys, dicing chicken (with a plastic knife, of course!), and making pancakes. With some training and practicing, she's learning to be a real asset to me–which I'm definitely going to need once baby #3 is here!

When Kathrynne wasn't helping me today, I gave her some special things to play with/work on nearby including foil (this is one of her very favorite things in the world to play with!), and crayons and scissors and glue which she used at the kitchen table for a very long time.

My biggest advice to young moms out there is to make sure that you put your children as the most important priority in your day. Expect that your home will look lived in and you will get less done when little ones are underfoot; it's a fact of life!

I've had to learn to lower my expectations a lot since having children. I'd rather get a lot less done in the day and have invested quality time with my children, than have gotten a huge, long to-do list done and neglected my family in the process. They are only little once and I never want to forget that fact!

By the way, if you have little ones and are struggling with how to "do it all", I love the advice given by Jennie Chancey (mom to many little ones) here. Her words and thoughts have been a real blessing and help to me in navigating this incredible (and sometimes overwhelming!) task of mothering!

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