DIY Instant Oatmeal: Ditch the Packets!
November 17, 2014 9 Comments
I love oatmeal. It’s nutritious, with plenty of fiber and minerals and Vitamin B1, and has many health benefits. It’s filling. It can be seasoned any way you like. Quick-cooking oats are really easy to make–I don’t even bother cooking them in a pot, just mix them with boiling water in a bowl–and very low-priced, especially in bulk at the food co-op or in a large canister at GFS Marketplace. I have a favorite recipe for oatmeal that includes other healthy and filling ingredients like almond butter, and I also make fruit-flavored oatmeal whenever we finish up a jar of jam.
But in my workplace, I can’t store a lot of ingredients, nor do I have a nice counter space to assemble food. I don’t want to be licking sorghum syrup and almond butter off my filing cabinet! I do have a very nice electric kettle which provides properly boiling water (much better than a microwave) suitable for cooking oatmeal….
At times, I’ve bought instant oatmeal in single-serving packets. They’re okay. Some of the flavors are quite tasty, and a snack of oatmeal is very satisfying. But seeing those plastic-lined packets piling up in my wastebasket makes me feel a little sick. And a packet costs about 5 times as much as a serving of quick oats with embellishments. The giant boxes of packets, with a lower price per serving and slightly less cardboard waste, inevitably are “variety packs” including at least one flavor that I don’t like as well as the others. The less-expensive brands of flavored oatmeal usually include weird ingredients that might not be so healthy, plus a lot of sugar. Some flavors contain dried fruit, but after being stored mixed into the oatmeal it is so dry that it isn’t very appetizing.
Now that I’m a nursing mother again, I’m especially in need of healthy snacks, and oatmeal may increase milk production–it does seem to have that effect on me. A few months ago, Costco had a sale on Nature’s Path organic instant oatmeal with no weird ingredients…and I plowed through those 32 packets in less than 6 weeks. Furthermore, I felt that a packet wasn’t really quite enough food for me now, so I sometimes ate two packets together. I had to find a less wasteful option!
I searched online for instant oatmeal recipes. A lot of them encouraged making your own packets, using sandwich bags. I’ve got no need for individual packets; I’d rather have a big container and use the amount I want. Many of the recipes included powdered milk or non-dairy creamer, but I don’t like the taste of either of those. I like Better Than Milk powdered soymilk, but even in bulk it’s kind of pricey. As I ate oatmeal at home and at work and thought about what I do and don’t like, I realized milkiness isn’t as important to me as fat. There was some free butter lying around at work (food provided for a meeting included an excess of individually-wrapped butter pats, which had been stashed in the refrigerator) so I tried adding those to my oatmeal packets, and they vastly increased the yumminess! I also tried adding raisins from the jar I keep at work; they were much better than the dry raisins in the oatmeal packets.
With all this in mind, I developed the instant-oatmeal recipe I’ve been enjoying in the office for the past few weeks! You could easily add more ingredients, or change the spices, to make different flavors.
To make about 30 servings, you will need
- 10 cups quick oats
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 cup hemp protein powder (optional; I added this to increase the protein and fiber)
- reused jars sufficient to store the above
- a blender or a food processor with chopping blade
- a small measuring cup or other scoop
- a jar of coconut oil (It doesn’t need refrigeration, and it improves the quality of breast milk!)
- a jar of raisins
Put 7 cups of oats in a large mixing bowl. Put 3 cups of oats in the food processor.
Add salt, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and protein powder to the food processor. Whiz it around a bit. Don’t aim to turn the oats into powder (although it’s okay if you do) but just to cut them smaller and mix them with the other stuff. Cutting up some of the oats gives the finished oatmeal a smoother texture. If you like it chewy, you can skip this step and just mix everything in the bowl.
Add the mixture to the oats in the bowl. Mix thoroughly with dry hands. Put it into the jars. Place the scoop in the jar you are going to use first. Tightly close the other jars and store in your pantry area until you use up the first jar.
To prepare a serving of oatmeal, boil 3/4 cup of water. Use a clean spoon to scoop some coconut oil out of the jar, and place the spoon in your bowl or mug. Scoop the desired amount of oatmeal into the bowl, and add raisins to taste. Pour boiling water over the oatmeal until it’s flooded. Stir. If oatmeal is too thick for you, stir in more water. Eat!
Making my own instant oatmeal works for me! Visit the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop and Real Food Friday and Tasty Tuesday for more cozy foods! Visit Healthy Vegan Friday for more delicious animal-free recipes! Visit Waste Not Want Not Wednesday for more resource-saving ideas!