Homemade “Instant” Oatmeal

Homemade “Instant” Oatmeal

Morning madness

Breakfast is my least consistent meal. I have difficulty finding the time to prepare and eat something healthy.  The thought of eating a stale, dry breakfast bar out of a wrapper makes me gag (and the healthier and less sugar added the more sawdust-esque the texture). Sometimes, I’ll just grab a banana (better than nothing), or if I’m commuting to work, I’ll be bad and go through the Starbucks drive-through for coffee and an oatmeal.

Now, I am sure very little coming out of Starbucks is good for you, not to mention the inflated cost. But the oatmeal is actually tasty and I feel better after eating it rather than a muffin. And honestly, I took a look at the ingredient list for the blueberry oatmeal and it’s not too bad.

Regardless, I like to make most of my food at home (where I have more control over ingredients) and it’s way more economical. So what about those instant oatmeal packets? Some of the more natural and health geared products are a good choice (such as Natures Path). However, there is typically a lot of added sugar and ingredients, so you have to be diligent reading labels.

But instead of paying more money and analyzing all of the different types, why not just make your own to-go oatmeal? You have control over the flavor and nutritional content, while also being more budget-friendly.

How to make it at home

Like most things you opt to make at home, it takes a little planning, but you can prep a week or two worth of oatmeal in less than 15 minutes.

Let’s talk container

Mine has to be transportation friendly- that’s the whole point. If I had time to sit at my kitchen table reading the paper, sipping coffee and eating a fresh bowl of oatmeal, I would be. But I am typically eating at a stop light (never at 70 mph down the highway) or even at work. I don’t like eating out of plastic, so I have a lot of glass storage containers in the house already. If you want to start moving away from plastic, it is an initial investment. I started buying a few at a time, and even though they are a bit pricey, I use them for everything.

My favorite option for oatmeal is a squat wide mouth mason jar with a screw-on lid (yes, lid is plastic, but it doesn’t really touch the food much). Again, these are an investment but they are incredibly useful. I use them to store yogurt, homemade pickles and salad dressings and other leftovers.

The Oatmeal

I was originally under the impression that quick cooking oatmeal wasn’t as nutritious as old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. I did a little research and luckily, that is not entirely the case. The quick cooking oats are more processed than the old-fashioned and steel-cut, but not with chemicals or additives. They are pre-cooked and rolled into a thinner oat than the old-fashioned (steel-cut is not rolled at all). Therefore, they cook faster, but can have a bit of a mushier texture. The only nutritional deficiency I found was that quick cooking oats have a higher glycemic index (how a food affects spikes in blood sugar) when compared to it’s lesser processed counterparts.

I like to cook with whole grains as much as possible, so I opt for a multi-grain medley. This does mean a longer cooking time and a chewier texture, but I like the variety of grains. For the fastest preparation time and consistent texture, the quick cooking oatmeal will be the best choice.

 Preparation

Ok, let’s get down to it. Basically, the only prep you need is getting the toppings together. I like small glass storage containers, but I guess you could use plastic baggies and re-use them. Typically, I throw in a handful of nuts or seeds (combination of almonds, sunflower seeds, walnut) and dried fruits such as cranberry or cherries. I make five of these containers for the week.

The night before, I set out my mason jar and put in a 1/4 cup scoop of oatmeal and a pinch of salt. I place the toppings jar and my honey container, and even a spoon, next to it so that everything is ready to go in the morning.

Go Time

In the morning, in between toddlers on the potty and other morning hoopla, I add 1/2 cup water and put it in the microwave on LOW for 1.5- 2 minutes. Follow the instructions on the container, but it’s typically 1 part oatmeal to 2 parts water. I use low power because my microwave is powerful and can cause boil over quickly. Play around with your microwave to find it’s sweet spot.

When the oatmeal is done, I drizzle on a little honey, throw on my toppings and screw on the lid. Even if the oatmeal is not fully cooked at this point, its ok because it will still cook inside of the hot mason jar.

The next step is remembering to grab the oatmeal on the way out the door!!! Enjoy!!

 

 

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