Quick and simple breakfast hacks that will change your life

While everyone has been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day, most of us probably skip it far more often than we'd like to admit. Sure, fixing a balanced, nourishing, and tasty breakfast is all well and good when you have hours to spare on the weekends, but what about those harried mornings when you can hardly get your teeth brushed much less think about cooking?

Psssst. We're here to let you in on a few kitchen tricks to help you get a one-up on your morning routine — at least where breakfast is concerned. With these hacks in your culinary toolbox, a meal you normally have zero extra minutes to devote to becomes one that's easy to fix and fits seamlessly into your routine. Say goodbye to the dogged days of running on empty until lunchtime or grabbing lousy fast food on the way to work or school.

Freeze bread and have toast whenever you want

I cannot impress upon you how important the simple act of freezing bread has been to my breakfast game. I love having toast in the morning but could never seem to finish an entire bakery loaf before it went bad. In an attempt to stop wasting food and money, I just stopped buying bread altogether and consequently, stopped enjoying toast. That was before I realized that I could freeze half of any loaf I buy. Simply wrap it in plastic and plop it in the freezer. Your bread will last a while and you can even toast frozen slices. Have toast everyday!

Add eggs to your leftovers

Turn anything edible in your fridge into breakfast when you add an egg to it. I live by this notion. The philosophy is ideal for leftovers since you can simply plop a fried egg on top of last night's fried rice, pasta, or chicken breast half. If you have a leftover salad, a side of scrambled eggs or a poached egg goes especially well. Since eggs are so nutritious, they're filling and nourishing. Instead of fixing an entire meal, just throw an egg on it.

Make hash browns in a waffle iron

Put down the skillet. There's a better way to make hash browns for breakfast, and it involves your waffle iron of all things. If you only order hash browns at diners because you think they're a hassle to make, think again. No flipping and no mess. Just place your hash mixture onto your trusty waffle appliance and close the lid. The hash browns will cook to an irresistible crispiness on both sides without requiring you to do any fancy maneuvering.

Make mini frittatas in a muffin pan

Make half a dozen personal frittatas and have them ready to roll for every day of the week? Yes, please. Mix a batch and divide it up into a muffin pan. Two eggs per muffin cup works splendidly. Throw in chopped onions, peppers, or whatever you like. Grease the pan well, foregoing liners, and bake the frittata babies in a 350 degree oven until they're set and cooked through. Wrap them up and store in the fridge, reheating as you move through your week.

Skip the cooking part of making oatmeal

Save yourself some time in the morning when you skip the long part of making oatmeal. A few easy steps the night before ensures a perfect serving in the a.m. Combine ⅓ cup of milk, ¼ cup of rolled oats, ¼ cup of Greek yogurt, chia seeds, ground cinnamon, and honey in a half-pint jar with a lid. Cover and shake! Remove the lid and fold in some fresh berries, then re-cover and refrigerate overnight. By the time you get up, the oats will be perfectly softened and the flavors melded. Easy-peasy.

Freeze oatmeal

Another way to save time and enjoy warming oatmeal for breakfast? Make a batch on the weekend and divide it up into a muffin pan. Transfer the pan to the freezer for a few hours, then remove and dump out the oatmeal mounds. Throw them into a resealable bag and place in the freezer until ready to use. To use, just thaw one portion in the fridge overnight and microwave with a little bit of milk in 30-second intervals, stirring each time.

Use a butter pot

If, like me, you like having soft butter for toast but rarely have the foresight to take it out of the fridge ahead of time, then it's time to invest in an old-fashioned butter pot. Pack the vessel with about a stick of butter, add about ¼ cup of water to the base, and invert the whole thing. The sealed-off water prevents the butter from spoiling and you get to have spreadable butter on hand for all your toast and pancake needs. I like this pretty marbled one from Crate and Barrel for its charm, economy, and effectiveness.

Transfer your pancake batter to a squeeze bottle

Avoid messes and misshapen pancakes when you transfer the batter to a squeeze bottle — the kind normally reserved for ketchup or mustard. Doing so allows you to exercise utmost control and lets you squeeze out the exact amount of batter you want. Pro-level pancakes every time, guaranteed.

Bake an egg inside an avocado

An avocado makes for great breakfast food because it's naturally full of healthy fats and nutrients. An egg isn't too shabby in the vitamins department, either. Prepare them together to save time and to enjoy maximum morning nourishment. Cut an avocado in half and crack an egg in each cavity. Place on a heated cast-iron skillet, transfer to a 425 degree oven, season the tops as desired, and bake until the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny. This energy-boosting breakfast is magical.

Make healthier two-ingredient pancakes

If you're looking for a simpler, lighter, and altogether easier alternative to regular pancakes, you definitely have to try The Kitchn's recipe for two-ingredient pancakes. Using only eggs and a banana, you can whip up weekday pancakes in less than five minutes. Of course, you're welcome to throw in any extras, but the basic formula creates soft pancakes that feel almost airy. Yum!

Use jar lids to make eggs that are perfectly round

If you've ever wanted to make round eggs that fit perfectly in a breakfast sandwich, try using Mason jar lids. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and grease the insides of the lids with some butter or oil. Place the rings on a griddle or pan and pour the egg mixture into them almost to the top. As the bottoms begin to set, you can remove the lids and flip the eggs. Add cheese and an English muffin, and you have yourself a stellar homemade breakfast sandwich.

Flip your cereal bag before opening

If you like the ease and convenience of eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast but hate that your last bowl is full of a bunch of crumbs, then this hack might just make you smile. Before opening new cereal, flip the bag so bigger pieces get redistributed throughout. Doing so means you get to enjoy a tasty bowl of cereal every time as opposed to ending with soggy granular bits by the end of the week.

Enjoy coffee and yogurt simultaneously

Coffee? Good. Yogurt? Also good. Together these two are unstoppable. Whip out your blender, add your morning coffee (slightly cooled), and yogurt of choice. Blend away for the best frapp/smoothie/dreamy breakfast beverage ever. You're welcome.

Skip the jam on toast thang

While spreading jam on your toast is pretty common practice, I beg you to consider opting out of the fruit preserves-bread paradigm before it's too late. One regular slice of whole wheat bread contains 12 grams of carbs, and 1 tablespoon of jam has 14 grams of carbs. By those numbers, jam on bread means you just won yourself a carb-packed sugary breakfast that's anything but balanced. Instead, try adding peanut or almond butter to your toast for a dose of protein.

Cook bacon in the oven

For years, I cooked bacon on the stovetop. That was what I saw everyone do, so I did it … until I realized I could use my trusty oven. Cue important-sounding, revelatory music. Cooking bacon in the oven allows you to make more (yay), avoid shrinkage (double yay), and easily discard the excess fat drippings. The result is always crispy and perfect to boot. Simply put a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and arrange bacon strips in a single layer. After about 20 minutes in an oven heated to 450 degrees, you're rewarded with salty pork bliss. Use the cook time to make coffee or skim your newsfeed.

Make hard-boiled eggs in a muffin pan

Cooking a large batch of hard-boiled eggs is a great way to save yourself time on hectic weekday mornings. Store them in the fridge and peel one each morning. It's delicious with a little salt and pepper sprinkled on top and a slice of toast alongside. While you can certainly boil several in a big pot, you could also try cooking them in a muffin pan using the oven, making a dozen at a time. Baking eggs in their shells results in cooked eggs that approximate hard-boiled. Place an egg in each muffin cavity, transfer the pan to a 325 degree oven, and bake for about half an hour.

Prep your smoothie fixings ahead of time

If you're a fan of smoothies for mornings on the run, make that routine go even faster when you prep all your drink ingredients in perfect pouches. I like to do this on the weekends when I have more time, so I have them at the ready for the week to come. Not having to gather the fruits, veggies, and extras every morning leaves you plenty of time to do other things. I like to have two sets of baggies: the ones for fruits and leafy greens (if using) and little pouches with customized blends of dry ingredients like chia seeds, flaxseeds, nuts, and the like. When you're ready to make your smoothie, just add one of each of these pouches along with the liquid of your choice. Done.

Make smoothie cubes

A quick smoothie for breakfast always sounds like a great idea, until you drag all the fruit and leafy greens out of the crisper. You're now faced with a counter full of produce to wash and chop, and while that isn't necessarily a difficult task, it can be a bit time consuming. There is an easier way…

Next time, simplify your mornings by making smoothie cubes. Yes, you still have to wash and prep all your fruit and veggies, but you can do it when you have the time, not when you're running late for your morning meeting. Simply puree whatever produce you want to go into your smoothie, then freeze each puree separately in ice cube trays. By keeping the mango puree separate from the berry puree and the spinach puree, you can customize each smoothie however you want. Once the cubes are frozen, just pop them into a mason jar the night before you want to enjoy a smoothie, and fill the jar up with liquid of your choice (like coconut water, nut milk, or dairy milk). The cubes will melt overnight and after a good shake, you're ready to sip that no-fuss smoothie on your way out the door.

Microwave pancakes in a jar

Let's face it — between getting the kids ready for school and getting yourself ready for work, a hot breakfast just usually isn't in the cards. As nice as a piping hot stack of pancakes sounds, it's much more likely that you'll be shoving Pop-Tarts in the toaster. But good news — if you have time for toasting Pop-Tarts, you have time for pancakes, thanks to the microwave. 

It may not be that towering stack you dream about, but pancakes in a jar will scratch your hotcake itch, at least until the weekend. Just grab that handy mason jar and fill in partway with prepared pancake batter. The amount will depend on the size of the jar, but you want to leave room for it to expand when cooking. Microwave for about 2 minutes (the exact time will depend on your microwave), and voila, pancakes. You can keep the jars of prepared batter in the fridge to use during the week (just don't forget to remove the metal ring and lid prior to microwaving), and if you're feeling extra-fancy, throw in a few frozen blueberries, too. Once they're cooked, top with maple syrup and dig in. 

Make freezer breakfast sandwiches

It's hard to resist the pull of the drive-thru on your morning commute. Let's be honest — fast food breakfasts are cheap, easy, and incredibly convenient. But if you want to ditch the drive-thru habit, you can. And don't worry — you can still get your breakfast sandwich fix without slaving over the stove each morning. 

You do have to do a bit of prep, but if you take an hour on a weekend, you can make enough breakfast sandwiches to fill your freezer for a month. You'll need toasted English muffins, scrambled eggs, cheese slices, and cooked bacon or sausage. (Scramble and cook the eggs in the microwave or oven in ramekins about the same size as your muffins.) Once all the components are cool, assemble and wrap each sandwich in a piece of foil, and freeze for up to one month. To reheat, place a frozen sandwich on a plate lined with a paper towel and microwave for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. See? That's almost as easy as the drive-thru, and just as tasty.

Make coffee ice cubes

If you're an iced coffee-lover, you know that chilling hot coffee with regular ol' ice cubes is a recipe for disaster. Instead of that nice strong brew you were hoping for, you're sipping on a glass of weak coffee-flavored water. Your diluted coffee woes can be a thing of the past with this handy trick though, and no, it's not "dump that coffee-water down the drain and go to the nearest Starbucks immediately." (Though you probably should dump that coffee-water down the drain…)

The solution is simple: Make coffee ice cubes. Brew a pot of good, strong coffee, let it cool, and freeze it in ice cube trays. Just like that, you've got a way to chill your hot cup o' joe without watering it down. Pop the cubes into your mug, pour the coffee and creamer over the top, and marvel at the coffee-house quality drink you made at home for a fraction of the cost.

Skip peeling hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are an excellent (eggcellent?) source of protein and essential amino acids, making them a popular choice for a no-fuss breakfast. It's easy to cook up a dozen at a time, and have a quick bite waiting in the fridge for you each morning. Whether you sprinkle them with a little salt, or use them to top your avocado toast, one thing is certain — hard-boiled eggs can be a pain to peel. 

With this genius hack, you'll never let the pain of peeling stop you from enjoying your to-go breakfast again. All you need is a serrated knife, and those eggs won't know what hit them. Yes, you read that right. You can use a serrated knife to cut through your hard-boiled egg, shell and all, and then use a spoon to scoop out each half. No more standing at the sink, struggling to pick bits of shell off the egg with your fingernails — just one cut and you're done. 

Don't skip breakfast unless you hate yourself

The most important breakfast hack you should know? Never skip eating altogether unless you're full of abject self-loathing. Doing so is a surefire way to get your day started on the wrong foot. Those hunger pangs may not hit right when you get up, but trust me, they will. When you inevitably become irritable and your stomach starts to make ghastly sounds, you'll regret not eating something. If you're so busy you can't spare even a single minute, at least tuck a piece of fruit or granola bar into your bag to help sustain your momentum until the next meal.

When it comes to clever hacks for mastering breakfast, these only make up the tip of the iceberg, but they also happen to be my favorite ones. Extremely doable and easy, I'm confident you'll be able to incorporate a few or all of them into your day-today. Good luck!