Easy family friendly breakfasts, like this Overnight French Toast Bake, are a great way to give your family a healthy start to their day without a lot of time spent in the kitchen. And it’s a bonus when it’s easy on the budget too.
I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Cabot Cheese and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
By doing all the prep work the night before, you can have a delicious, warm breakfast the next day with minimal effort. That’s nice when you’d rather be spending more of your time with family and less of it in the kitchen.
Can I make overnight French toast healthier?
You can easily up the nutritional value of overnight French toast with a few simple changes.
- Fruit, fresh or dried, is a great way to add fiber and other nutrients. Plus, fruit provides natural sweetness and additional flavor. I chose to add sliced apples to this overnight French toast bake, but it would be equally good with other fruits.
- Adding nuts, such as walnuts, provides additional heart-healthy omega-3-fatty acids.
- Use 100% whole wheat bread, whole grain bread, or even a combination of whole wheat and white bread. Whole wheat bread provides additional fiber. And let’s face it, most people don’t get enough fiber in their diet. So anytime you can easily increase it, go for it!
- The other ingredient that’s easy to add to this breakfast casserole is cheese. Yes, that’s right, cheese…specifically sharp cheddar cheese. Adding cheese provides additional protein and calcium to the meal.
By making these changes and adding apples and cheese, you end up with a pretty well-balanced breakfast that’s delicious and great for days when you want something a little special that won’t break the budget. It would perfect for lazy weekends and holidays, when family time is the focus.
How can I make this lactose-free or gluten-free?
With a few small changes you can make this overnight French toast gluten-free and/or lactose-free. Simply use your favorite gluten-free bread and make sure your cheese is gluten-free as well. All other ingredients in the recipe are already gluten-free.
To make it lactose-free, you’ll need to change out your milk for a lactose-free milk beverage – something like almond milk or soy milk. The choice is yours. Additionally, you’ll want to choose aged, hard cheeses, like cheddar cheese, that are usually very low in lactose if they have any at all. In fact, the Cabot Creamery Sharp Cheddar Cheese I used in this recipe is naturally lactose-free. Alternatively, you could use a lactose free cheese substitute.
Budget friendly tips
What makes overnight French toast with cheddar and apples easy on the budget? Well, for starters, all the major ingredients are budget friendly items. Ingredients like eggs, milk, and bread are usually reasonably priced. But here are a few other tips:
- Use whole wheat sandwich bread. And if you normally throw away the ends of your loaves of bread – the heels, save and freeze them, and then use those in your overnight French toast.
- Buy skim or non-fat milk as it’s usually costs less than high-fat milk.
- And eggs have always been a low cost, high-quality protein source.
- You can also find apples and cheese that can easily fit into your grocery budget. If there’s an apple farm nearby, try asking for seconds. They might have a few bruises or bumps but are just fine to cook with, and they’re less expensive.
Does it matter what kind of cheese I use?
You can use whatever kind of cheese you like, but my favorite is sharp cheddar. The cheddar cheese flavor complements the apples and custardy French toast, and adds another dimension of flavor to the finished product, and basically increases its deliciousness!
For this overnight French toast bake I chose to use Cabot Creamery Sharp Cheddar Cheese. It has a great flavor! And did you know that all Cabot cheddars are naturally aged, gluten-free, and 100% naturally lactose-free? That’s great news for people who need to avoid gluten or lactose.
And you know what else is great about Cabot Cheese? It’s a cooperative of farm families and all the profits go back to the farmers. And I’m all about supporting family farms. Besides their wonderful array of cheeses, they also make cottage cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, and butter.
Easy breakfasts that are tasty, healthy, and budget-friendly are a great way to start your day. So why not make this Overnight French Toast Bake? Start tonight and enjoy tomorrow morning!
Overnight French Toast Bake
- 8 1 oz. slices whole wheat bread
- 3 small apples, cored, peeled, and sliced about 2 1/2 cups
- 3 oz. Cabot Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded about 1 cup
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Gather and prepare the ingredients by chopping the walnuts, shredding the cheese, and coring, peeling, and slicing the apples. Set walnuts aside in covered container.
- Cut each bread slice into 4 squares or triangles. Then place about one-third of them in a layer into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish. On top of that, arrange about one-half of the apple slices and then evenly sprinkle on about one-half of the cheese.Repeat layering with another one-third of the cut bread slices, the other half of the apples, and the other half of the cheese. Place the last one-third of the bread slices on the top.
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Then add the milk, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Whisk all until well blended.
- Pour egg and milk mixture evenly over the bread, cheese, and apple layers in the pan. Make sure to pour some over each bread piece on the top and evenly over all the rest. Press the bread pieces down lightly. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the refrigerated pan from the refrigerator in the morning and let rest at room temperature while the oven in pre-heating. Do not remove foil. Turn the oven on and pre-heat to 375°F.
- Place foil-covered pan of bread, apple, cheese, and egg mixture into the pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and carefully remove the foil, starting at the furthest edge from you and peeling the foil back toward you. Evenly sprinkle the chopped nuts and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar over the top. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking about another 20 minutes until golden brown and middle of the casserole reaches 160°F.Remove from oven and serve warm.