It’s basically like having dessert for breakfast (if dessert had 12 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber).
High-Protein Apple Pie Baked Oats
Credit: Casey Barber

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make Earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life. 

I'm basically always thinking about my next meal, and the start of a new week is no exception. While I don't plan out every meal of every day, I do recognize that having a few things at-the-ready to start the week can really simplify your life. I usually exercise in the mornings, so having breakfast ready-made helps me get out the door (mostly) on time and stay fueled for the day ahead. While I love prepping our omelet muffin recipes and following our overnight oats formula, one breakfast recipe that I crave often is our Apple-Pie Baked Oats. Here are some of the many reasons why I love this meal-prep-friendly morning dish.

It's basically like having dessert for breakfast.

Here at EatingWell, we love healthy recipes that remind us of our favorite desserts. (We also love real-deal desserts, but that would not be the most energizing way to start the day.) Though it's an extra step and extra pan to clean, sautéing the apples in butter and cinnamon is well worth it for the flavor it provides. Plus, it will make your house smell like apple pie (and who doesn't want that?). Topping the baked oats with Greek yogurt and maple syrup feels like the breakfast version of apple pie à la mode. 

It can be made ahead. 

One of the main reasons I come back to this recipe again and again is because it only takes one hour to make breakfast for six days. And of that hourlong cook time, only 25 minutes are active time, so I can throw it in the oven while I catch up on a TV show or laundry. If you're home on Sunday anyway, making these baked oats for the week ahead feels super easy, and you'll thank yourself every morning when you have a satisfying breakfast ready in seconds. If you really want to plan ahead, you can let it cool completely and store it in the freezer for up to three months. 

It's packed with fiber and protein.

Not only does this recipe taste super delicious, but it's healthy enough that you could eat it every day if you wanted. One slice contains 361 calories, 12 grams of protein, 53 grams of carbs (7 of which are from fiber) and nutrients like calcium, folate, vitamin D and iron. Oats, chia seeds and apples help provide an impressive 28% of your daily fiber needs, while protein powder, milk, eggs and Greek yogurt give the meal a protein boost. 

It's budget-friendly. 

It probably goes without saying that we all could stand to save a little money these days (check out these tips to beat inflation at the grocery store for more help). Even though my dollar might not go as far as it used to when buying food, I appreciate that I can make this flavor-packed, craveable breakfast dish with budget-friendly ingredients like oats, apples, milk, butter and eggs. If you're really in a pinch, you can skip the pricier ingredients like chia seeds and protein powder, though it will reduce the fiber and protein count a bit (in this case, I'd suggest going with something like our Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal or our Banana, Raisin & Walnut Baked Oatmeal).