05 April 2013

Breakfast for Dinner


Is there a family out there who doesn't enjoy a little breakfast for dinner every once in a while?  I think most families have done the meal flip-flop a few times.  A simple plate of fried eggs, bacon and baked beans or even a stack of pancakes with syrup for the evening meal just puts a smile on everyone's face.  But I know we can do better than that!

One way to create dinner from breakfast ingredients, while keeping the meal special, is with a breakfast casserole.  I first found breakfast casseroles about 25 years ago, when I was catering for a church camp and needed easy to throw together, but tasty and cheap breakfast ideas. I've been hooked ever since.  The eggs provide all the protein you need for a dinner, and bulking it out with leftover or sad vegetables is not only a delicious option, but also frugal and healthy.

And did I mention they are easy? Many of them can be done in your slow-cooker - you can't get a much easier dinner than that, making them ideal for busy days and late dinners.

Even if someone in your family claims they don't like eggs for dinner, a breakfast casserole will make a believer out of them.  For this discussion, we're not going to talk about serving pancakes or even scrambled or fried eggs.  Casseroles are a familiar, comforting dish for many people at dinnertime.  This fact may help even a picky eater warm to the idea of breakfast for dinner.

My family absolutely loves breakfast for dinner. They really think it's a treat, they just don't believe me when I tell them I'm just cleaning out the fridge or having a slack night. The boys especially love it, I'm sure it takes the place of take-away for them.

And I love it because it's almost a no brainer. If I am very tired or very rushed, breakfast for dinner can be thrown together in under 5 minutes and the jobs done.  I can then focus on other things until the oven timer dings. And dinner is on the table - I put the casserole dish straight onto the table and everyone helps themselves.

Again, we can look at the frugal aspect of serving breakfast for dinner.  Eggs are an inexpensive source of protein and other nutrients.  Another frugal factor is in using leftovers.  Making a breakfast casserole can be a great way to use up food that might otherwise be thrown out.  That last serving of broccoli is sitting there staring at you day after day from the refrigerator.  Rather than throw it out, throw it in with the eggs and you have the beginnings of a breakfast casserole.

Need more ideas?  Say you had fajitas for dinner the other night and you have some strips of  steak and a little seasoned capsicum left.  No one really wants to see fajitas more than once in a week.  So, what else can you do with the leftovers so they don't end up in the garbage?  Toss a breakfast casserole together with the steak, capsicum, some grated carrots, diced celery, toasted croutons and sage, mix in the eggs and you've got a totally different dinner.  You have saved yourself from tossing those leftovers and created an original meal just by adding eggs and a few carefully chosen ingredients.

Use a variety of fresh vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, kale (if you haven't tried kale yet, do - you'll love it and it's so good for you), zucchini, cauliflower, green beans and sweet potatoes to create a wide selection of breakfast casseroles.  Add a layer of grated potato, whole grain bread, croutons, crushed weetbix, crushed crackers or potato chips or even cooked rice to the casserole.  Think of the flavuors you like together, put them in layers in an oiled baking dish and bring them all together in one meal just by adding eggs.

If you are looking to cut back on how often you serve meat or poultry for dinner, a breakfast casserole may be the perfect dish.  Eggs are a great replacement for meat because they are protein-rich and cheap.  Adding milk and cheese to your breakfast casserole brings the calcium level up.  There's no reason to eat meat seven days a week when you have eggs that will do just as well.  Create filling casseroles using eggs several times a week and you could save quite a bit on your grocery budget.  And there are plenty of options for ingredients to keep the casseroles interesting.

The next time you're looking for an inexpensive, filling, healthy meal for dinner, think about turning some of those familiar breakfast foods into dinner.  Eggs are an excellent solution to the problem of what to serve for dinner that's healthy and frugal.  But, you don't need to fry up a few eggs for dinner.  Get creative with other ingredients and create a breakfast casserole that fits right in with your family's tastes.  We talk about comfort food a lot, right?  Well, what's more comforting than a frugal yet nourishing casserole?  It's time to think... what would you put in a breakfast casserole for dinner tonight?

3 comments:

  1. My favourite cafe for breakfast serves a breakfast pizza (tomato, bacon and whole eggs on top) that would also fit the bill for a dinner.

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  2. I recall the impossible pie recipe - same principle but include a half cup of plain flour to the mix and a half cup of grated cheese on top before popping into the oven and you have almost quiche. The flour sinks to the bottom and forms a simple crust. Thanks for the recipes Kath - inspiring as always!

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  3. Wonderful idea! We sometimes just have eggs on toast if we are tired after a long day,but making this dish sounds like a lot more practical and interesting, using up any leftovers-AND it will look like I actually cooked a meal-give me some 'Browny points'! ;~)

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