During the week before Easter, many stores will put eggs on deep discount, selling them for as little as $0.80 per dozen. After all, many families pick up a bunch of eggs for the Easter weekend with the intent of coloring and decorating them; thus, discounted eggs are a great “loss leader” that stores advertise to get you in the door.
Whenever I see an item on such deep discount, the question I ask myself is “how can I take advantage of this?” In other words, what could I do with a large quantity of eggs to really get the most out of this sale?
Here are some of my answers to that question.
Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos, Quesadillas, or Egg Sandwiches
There are few times during the year that are better for loading up your freezer with individually-wrapped savory breakfast items than this week because the cost of eggs is so low. If you can buy a dozen eggs for less than a dollar, then the cost of making a big batch of breakfast burritos, egg sandwiches, or quesadillas becomes really, really cheap.
It’s actually quite easy to do this. A breakfast burrito is basically just scrambled or fried eggs and any other ingredients you like (sausage, bacon, onions, peppers, hot sauce, cheese, etc.) wrapped in a tortilla. A quesadilla is more or less the same thing, except inside of a flattened folded tortilla (I usually cook these for a little bit in a sandwich press before wrapping them for freezing). A breakfast sandwich is usually a fried egg with toppings inside of a muffin or biscuit or slices of toast. They’re all more or less constructed out of the same ingredients, which you can select according to your taste preferences.
I make these items quite regularly and store them in my freezer for future use in large quantities. Here are some tips for making this work.
First of all, cool your ingredients to room temperature and pat them dry before using them. Why do this? If you don’t, you’re going to wind up with a ton of extra moisture in your burrito/sandwich/quesadilla, which will make them soggy when you reheat them. So, if you’re making breakfast sandwiches or quesadillas (if you’re using fried eggs in the quesadillas), fry a bunch of eggs and let the eggs cool before assembling sandwiches, and pat them dry before assembly. I often stick them in the fridge on a plate while I’m getting other things ready, just to cool them off.
Second, if you’re making burritos, use large tortillas or else you’ll have super-tiny burritos or a giant mess. Use large tortillas so that you can put an ample amount of filling in there and still fold them thoroughly without splitting or leakage. With quesadillas, any size works.
Finally, wrap the sandwiches/quesadillas/burritos individually in aluminum foil right after assembly, and then freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. First of all, the individual wrapping ensures that minimal additional moisture is lost to the outside, which can cause the outside of the tortilla or sandwich to get dampened by steam, which can cause freezer burn or super-crunchy or super-damp tortillas or bread when you cook them. Freezing them on a single layer on a cookie sheet causes them to freeze quickly, minimizing the amount of moisture that can soak into the tortilla or bread, reducing dampness upon reheating. When they’ve frozen, transfer the sandwiches/quesadillas/burritos to gallon Ziploc freezer bags for long term storage.
This is my preferred breakfast burrito recipe, except that mine are typically vegetarian with something substituted for the bulk sausage, like mushrooms or black beans depending on my mood. For quesadillas, I usually follow something close to this recipe. For breakfast sandwiches, I make these, with some being vegetarian-friendly by simply using two eggs instead of a single egg and meat. With all of them, I use the tips above to make them turn out really well.
Each Easter, I like to make a giant jar of pickled eggs that’ll last for weeks in the fridge. I usually use a gallon glass jar and put three or four dozen eggs in there, then eat them slowly as a snack over the subsequent weeks. The acidity of the vinegar pickles the eggs and keeps them safe and the other ingredients imbue flavor.
All I do is hard-boil four dozen eggs, allow them to cool to room temperature, then peel them and put them aside in a bowl. At this point, I boil 12 cups of white vinegar and 4 cups of water together with a cup or so of peppercorns, a tablespoon of salt, a third of a cup of sugar, a bay leaf, five tablespoons of pickling spices, and a sliced onion (big slices). I let this simmer for a few minutes, then I let it cool until it’s cool enough to handle without worrying about scalding myself.
I then toss several garlic cloves in the jar, put a layer of eggs on the bottom, put some of the onions on top of the eggs, and then keep alternating between the onions and eggs. When the jar is mostly full, I dump in the liquid from the boil to fill the jar. If I need more, I mix three cups of vinegar and one cup of water and add it on top. I close up the jar, put it in the fridge, and don’t touch it for a week, and then after that, I have wonderful pickled eggs to eat for a long while!
Make-Ahead Frittata Muffins
You can most certainly make full-sized frittatas, quiches, and breakfast casseroles. They work great for this – just fill up a pan with your favorite recipe, let it cool, make sure there’s no excess moisture on the surface by blotting it with a paper towel, and then freeze it right in that pan. It can easily be reheated with just enough oven time to heat it up any time you need a weekend breakfast.
However, what I really like to do is make frittata muffins, which are kind of all-in-one breakfast items that are individually sized and easy to freeze. I usually just follow this recipe and then, when they’re all done, I’ll wrap them individually in aluminum foil, freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer, then fill up gallon-sized freezer bags or freezer containers with them.
Again, as with the sandwiches above, just make sure everything is as dry as possible before you freeze it, because the secret to freezing things successfully is to recognize that there’s more moisture there than you think and if you allow it to be too moist, you’ll end up with freezer burn and lots of sogginess when you thaw it and cook it.
Breakfast or Snack Bars
Yet another idea is to simply make a big batch of breakfast or snack bars, like these. They don’t use a ton of eggs, but they’re so different than the savory items above that they’re quite nice to have around, plus they freeze really well in a large freezer container. Just finish off the recipe, enjoy a bar or two for yourself, then cut up the rest and stack them in your preferred freezer container. You can thaw the whole container later on and you’ll have convenient breakfasts for the whole family for several days.
The nice thing with this recipe is that you can literally use any berries available to you and the recipe turns out great, so if you have a source for raspberries or blackberries or huckleberries or blueberries or lingonberries or cherries or strawberries, use them! Just use what you can easily pick, or what you can get for a low price at the store or the market.
If you follow these recipes and strategies, you can fill up your freezer with a ton of savory and sweet items that will work well for breakfasts (and for other meals – our family eats “breakfast” foods for dinner fairly often) for a long, long time.
The number one key for making food ahead, though, is to make sure it’s dry. Let the ingredients cool to room temperature before assembling the items and freezing them. You’ll be so glad you did!
Plus, there are few things cheaper than grabbing a quick breakfast out of the freezer and warming it up while you fill up your to-go cup with coffee at home before you leave. The total cost of a breakfast and a good cup of coffee in this situation is just a dollar or two, compared to the $8-$10 you might drop for the same thing at the coffee shop. Preparing a bunch of these items when eggs are on sale makes it even cheaper.