Making Your Own Homemade Oatmeal Packets: A Visual Guide and Cost Analysis

I love oatmeal. I eat it for breakfast probably five days a week. It’s a very healthy fuel to get your motor running for the day, plus it can be very tasty if it’s made well.

Whenever I find myself using something almost every day, I begin to wonder if I can’t reduce the cost of it somehow. This led me down the path of making my own instant oatmeal packets. Could I make them as well as (or even better than) the instant Quaker Oats packets for a cheaper price?

The answer is … sort of. For me (and for anyone else who consistently eats oatmeal for breakfast), the answer is emphatically yes – you can make packets significantly cheaper and far tastier over the long haul. For people who might eat oatmeal once a week or less, though, you’re likely better off buying the Quaker Oats packets.

Here’s the plan.

The Basic Recipe
All you really need to make your own basic oatmeal packets at home are instant (ready to eat in one minute) oatmeal, salt, and sealable baggies to store them in – you might also want sugar or another sweetener if you wish to pre-sweeten the oatmeal.

Core ingredients

The procedure is really easy. Just add 1/4 of a cup of the oats and a pinch of salt (1/8 of a teaspoon if you must measure it) to each baggie. Out of that container there, you’d get about 48 bags. I also like to pre-add a bit of sugar to it – about 1/2 of a teaspoon. You can choose to add none at all or add another sweetener like Splenda at your own discretion.

These will result in basic oatmeal packets very similar to the “regular” oatmeal packets sold by Quaker Oats. If you like the basic oatmeal with no changes, this is a very cheap route to go – since you can re-use the baggies, the only recurring cost over a realistic timeframe is the oatmeal itself – a bag of sugar and a canister of salt will last you effectively forever with this recipe.

Flavoring It Up
Of course, I like to flavor it up.

Flavoring ingredients

On the left are the ingredients for cinnamon-raisin packets. On the right are ingredients for blueberries & cream packets – dried blueberries and fat-free non-dairy creamer. Why not powdered milk? It tends to potentially mold and have other bad effects if left in baggies for too long – Coffee Mate is an excellent substitute.

For my cinnamon-raisin packets, I just add about 1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon and about two dozen raisins to each bag. For the blueberry packets, I add a tablespoon of the creamer and about a dozen and a half blueberries. Perfect.

Here’s a finished blueberries and cream packet:

A close-up of a blueberries & cream oatmeal baggie

The nice part is you can basically make anything you want if you’re making your own packets. You can experiment as your heart desires – any dried fruit pieces, any seasonings you can find – anything. I’ve actually made batches of cranberry oatmeal using dried cranberries in the past – I love it, but it’s not something you see sold on store shelves.

Adding the ingredients yourself make for tastier packets. The pre-mixed packets that Quaker sells seem to use low-quality versions of the added ingredients. For example, the dried blueberries in this packet are way better than the blueberries used in the Quaker Oats packets, resulting in a much tastier blueberry oatmeal.

Storing the packets is easy, too. Just stuff the baggies into the oat canister. That’ll hold 80% of the baggies – just sit the rest next to them and eat those first. Problem solved.

I Like It Thicker
One thing I don’t like about the Quaker Oats packet in the stores is that the oatmeal is almost always too thin. Personally, I like thick oatmeal, the kind that reminds me of the stuff my great grandma used to make at her house.

Since you’re making your own baggies, you can make it nice and thick, too. All you have to do is puree some of the dry oatmeal in your handy-dandy blender.

Blender

Put in about a quarter of a cup at a time and put it on puree for about ten seconds. You end up with oatmeal powder.

Blended oats

Then, just add a tablespoon of this powder to each baggie to make it thicker. I actually add two tablespoons to each baggie – that makes it really, really thick – just how I like it!

Here’s the bowl of thick blueberries and cream oatmeal I had for breakfast this morning:

Bowl of oatmeal

I just dumped the baggie into the bowl (saving the baggie for reuse, of course), added about a quarter of a cup of skim milk, and microwaved it for about sixty seconds. Nice and thick and warm and delicious.

Cost Analysis
I wound up making 42 baggies with this batch. Normally, one would make 48 baggies out of a normal-sized canister of instant oatmeal, but I pureed enough of the oatmeal to make only 42.

42 baggies

15 of the baggies were blueberries and cream and 27 were cinnamon-raisin.

Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of ingredients left over:

leftovers

I used all of the oatmeal and all of the blueberries, but I still had almost a full container of salt, an almost full container of cinnamon, an almost full container of sugar, a 2/3 full container of Coffee Mate, half a box of raisins, and 58 Glad baggies.

This means that if I were to make a second batch, I’d only need to replace the oatmeal and the blueberries. Since I can reuse the baggies and I have enough salt and sugar to last effectively forever, those are sunk startup costs – after that, you just need to replace oatmeal and the flavorings when you need to – and most of the flavorings will last for multiple batches.

Batch 1 – More Expensive
Of course, the first batch was a bit more expensive per packet than just buying the Quaker Oats packet. Here’s my receipt from Fareway for the stuff for 42 homemade packets:

The cost

The cost per homemade packet during the first run is $0.46 per packet. The cost would have been $0.43 per packet had I not ground up some of the packets to thicken some of the others. We’ll figure up costs for future runs in a minute.

What about the time cost? It took me about thirty minutes of mindless work to make these packets. I spent the entire time making them on the phone with my mother – I just conversed with her while my hands were busy with… well, busywork. Thus, I don’t consider the time sink to be significant.

How about the Quaker Oats packet? To control for location and store differences, I bought a box of packets at Fareway to compare the price:

A box of Quaker Oats packets?

The cost per packet for Quaker Oats is $0.30 per packet. Yep, the prepackaged ones are cheaper at first. But let’s keep looking.

Batch 2 and Future Batches – Less Expensive
The kicker with making your own packets is that they get cheaper on future runs. You don’t have to buy the sugar, the salt, or the baggies any more. Let’s say I made another identical batch to the one above – 42 packets. Using what I have on hand, I only have to repurchase the oats – $2.99 – and the blueberries – $3.29. The second homemade batch has a cost per packet of $0.15 – way cheaper than the prepared packets. In fact, averaging the two costs ends up with an average cost per homemade packet after two runs being almost identical to the cost of buying prepared packets – $0.30. If I had not ground up some of the oatmeal to make thicker packets, it would have been cheaper – $0.28 per packet.

Runs beyond the second further reduce the cost. And when you consider the flexibility of your homemade packets – and the fact that they taste far better – it becomes a pretty clear bargain after a while.

Reducing the Costs
Even more important, I didn’t optimize my ingredient purchases very well. A bit of optimization shaves off a lot of the cost.

The biggest way to save more money is to buy a giant canister of the oatmeal rather than a fairly small canister. Buying the oatmeal in bulk cuts down on the cost per packet significantly. Similar logic applies to some of the ingredients – if you particularly like blueberries in your oatmeal, for instance, buying them in bulk cuts down on costs, too.

Also, re-use the baggies. There’s no reason not to here – you’re only storing dry ingredients in them. Use them again.

Another tip – buy snack-sized baggies instead of sandwich baggies. I bought sandwich baggies in the example above because the store’s baggie selection was small – snack baggies are cheaper, easier to store, and hold an oatmeal packet easily.

All of these tips can trim the cost significantly, particularly on future batches.

Conclusion
If you or your family eat a lot of oatmeal, making your own packets is a cost-saver over the long haul – plus they make for tastier packets. In our house, I eat oatmeal four to five times a week, plus my son eats it twice a week and my wife perhaps once a week. That makes eight packets a week. In ten weeks, homemade packets become cheaper per packet. In twenty weeks, we’re now saving, on average, a dime for every packet we’ve eaten – $16. After that, it’s just gravy – another $1 or so each week saved while eating better oatmeal packets.

The key, though, is that your family eats a lot of oatmeal. If they don’t, then making your own packets probably won’t be cost-effective for you.

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  1. This is an excelletn case study. I used to live off of this stuff in College…of course I bought the pre-made stuff. Looks like I could have saved a bundle!
    Thanks Trent!

  2. Diane says:

    Trent I am so doing this! I have taken quite a shine to Quaker Simply Harvest Oatmeal. It’s $3.48 for 8 packets . In addition to oats, they have some grains like barley , rye and wheat that makes these oats especially good. I’m going to check out the Bob’s Red Mill section at my grocery and see if I can find some different grains to add to your recipe. Thanks for another great post! How about writing another book about frugal food!

  3. Andy says:

    Nice analysis. I have a suggestion though, why not skip the baggies, pour everything into a big tupperware container, and then scoop a half cup or cup at a time when you’re ready to eat. Much easier for storage I think.

    Also, I did a post on the cost of no-knead bread over at my site if you’re interested. If you buy in bulk, it can be cheaper than dollar loaves at the store.

    One last thing, do you have any idea what it costs to run an oven at 450 degrees?

  4. K says:

    I have been doing this but haven’t been as creative with the flavors. I actually make this so I can take it to eat at work. I use ziplock containers and pour the dry oatmeal and brown sugar into the container and take it to work dry. Then I add water, microwave, and eat it right out of the ziplock container. I usually make a weeks worth at a time, but it is also really easy to make up every evening if I forget. I’ll have to try blueberries and gringing the oatmeal!

  5. Jayson says:

    It seems that if you add the cost of adding raisins to the store bought packets you would end up closer in price.

  6. Is there any reason to use the baggies, rather than just keep the mixed up ingredients in a big Tupperware container, with scoop?

  7. Chris says:

    I love when you do these breakdowns, great post!

    I mostly just grab a muffin or two on my way to work, and they aren’t economical or healthy. I’ve been looking for a new breakfast option and this might just be it.

  8. Johanna says:

    I have oatmeal for breakfast most mornings, too. I can’t stand the kind in the packets (too sweet, not enough texture), and I don’t bother with the baggies. Here is what I do:

    Measure a cup of water into a little saucepan (you could use milk or part water, part milk) and put it on the stove on high heat.
    While it’s heating, add some raisins and walnuts, a few shakes of cinnamon, a teaspoon of sugar, and maybe some fresh or frozen fruit if I’ve got some.
    When the water comes to a boil, add half a cup of quick oats (from the bulk bins at the health food store – far cheaper than the supermarket).
    Give it a stir, and take it off the heat. When it’s cool enough to eat, it’s ready. I eat it straight out of the pot, so there’s less cleanup.

    Start to finish it takes maybe 5-6 minutes. But my morning tea (which I make at the same time) takes that long to brew anyway, so there is no point for me to do any of the prep work in advance.

  9. sara says:

    I was eating a lot of eggos, and I figured out that you can freeze pancakes or waffles that you make at home. It does take longer than mixing the oatmeal, but the ingredients are pretty cheap. I made three weeks worth of pancakes from pancake mix and a can of blueberries and it tasted so good. I don’t know if it was cheaper, but it was certainly better tasting and healthier.

  10. Interesting and thorough project — thanks for sharing!

    I love the instant packets of Quaker Oatmeal but I try to eat really healthy and the unnecessary sugar/calories is hard to justify. I did discover that the regular whole oatmeal, which says you have to boil it in water, also cooks if you just pour some boiling water into it (but you need less water than the instructions say). I turn on the tea kettle, pour it into a bowl of plain rolled oats, and add raisins.

  11. Eric says:

    On a totally unrelated note I actually graduated from Ankeny High School. My aunt and uncle still live in town although I haven’t for …crap 17 years…I am old!

    Just thought it was neat you shop at a store I used to go to.

  12. Anne says:

    I pour old-fashioned oats (store brand is fine and sometimes better) into quart sized glass bowl, add water to cover, microwave for 3 minutes, eat out of bowl with skim milk and splenda brown sugar. Love it. Nice to know others share my oatmeal fetish.

  13. Frank says:

    The picture of all the baggies laid out on your table makes you look like an oatmeal dealer.

    Maybe you could sell this stuff on a shady corner somewhere??

  14. Awesome Mom says:

    Great idea! My kids love oatmeal and eat it for breakfast almost every day. I have been using the plain oats but making these packets would help streamline the time it takes to make breakfast.

  15. Joe T says:

    My oatmeal routine, and favorite oatmeal recipe: I buy steel cut oats and whole oat groats in bulk at Whole Foods, and mix them at 2 to 1. Not as cheap as Quaker Oats, but way cheaper than McCann’s, and I love the texture that the whole groats add to the mix. I keep this mixture in a sealed container.

    First thing in the morning, even before I feed the cats, I combine 1/4 C oat mixture, 1 C skim milk, and 1 pinch of kosher salt in a small saucepan on high heat. I bring this to a boil, then put it on low and get ready for work. I’ve discovered through messy trial and error that if I leave it on “1” on my burner’s dial, it will cook very slowly, but not boil over.

    Usually about 25 minutes later, though it can be as long as 35-40 minutes, I put the saucepan on medium, and stir regularly while the oats finish cooking and thickening. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes, which gives me time to make coffee.

    When the oats are cooked, I add 1 T maple syrup and 7-8 grams of unsalted butter. Stir till combined and the butter is melted. Delicious.

  16. constant learning says:

    Great idea! I have convinced my 5 year old niece that I make special oatmeal. This is about 1/4 to 1/3 cup oatmeal and 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water in a microwaveable bowl. I put a plate on top and microwave for a bit. After stirring, I sprinkle colored sugar or candy sprinkles on top. She can eat three bowls at one sitting!

  17. MES says:

    We’ve found that baggies of instant oatmeal are perfect for our camping trips – fast and lightweight. At home though, I’m an oatmeal snob. We eat oatmeal at least a couple times a week, but I need to have the old fashioned kind that you cook on the stove. I like to add raisins and/or craisins along with sliced almonds.

  18. Kari says:

    crockpot cooking – old fashioned Quaker oatmeal, chopped apples, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, etc. into the crockpot at night. Delicious hot breakfast out in the morning. Left overs warm up well later. YUM!

  19. Aimee says:

    I’ve always had trouble with oatmeal being too watery, so that bit with the blender is a great idea. You should consider putting this on Instructables.com, since the only version posted there does not mention a blender and says to use powdered milk.

  20. Wesa says:

    I like the idea, except for the non-dairy creamer. I haven’t been able to touch those since I read an article by Marion Nestle in which she compared non-dairy creamers to liquid margarine.

  21. Tabletoo says:

    I prefer using oatmeal groats but they take longer to cook. I cook up a large batch once a week and keep it in the refrigerator. I can either store it in one larger container or sometimes I divide it into serving sizes and store in small glass serving/storage bowls that have plastic lids. I cook the oatmeal with 1/2 milk and 1/2 water – avoids the use of non-foods such as artificial creamer. Sometimes I add a little sugar but it is not necessary as the groats have a natural sweetness when fresh. Sometimes I add cinnamon. Before eating it, I reheat the oatmeal either on the stove top or in the microwave and top with a little butter or cream and sometimes fruit and toasted nuts.

  22. Carrier says:

    I make my oatmeal in the microwave. 1/2 c. old fashioned Quaker Oatmeal (I don’t like the quick cooking stuff because the texture reminds me of wallpaper paste) to 1 c. water, add raisins (this prevents the oatmeal from bubbling over the bowl and plumps the raisins nicely to boot), zap for 3 minutes, then add sweetener, nuts, milk, and cinnamon.

  23. money_me says:

    Trent, since you are working from home, you can tune it up by reducing on the ‘baggies’. Too much environmental hazard; reserve the earth for your little ones. Take time to prepare the oatmeal! Let’s be frugal as we also be mindufl of the environment.

    Secondly, you can save more money by buying the oatmeal in bulk as opposed to the packaged ‘quaker’ brands etc. I recently figured that out myself.

    Otherwise keep on blogging!!

  24. MJ says:

    I used to do this too, not sure why, but the plastic bags ended up adding the plastic taste to my oatmeal (since i made so much of it and stored it in plastic bags for a few weeks)…so i have to find a better alternative to using the plastic bags, maybe i could do a huge container of the stuff, and then just scoop it out in the morning? Have you tried anything like that?

  25. Donna says:

    We do this! We kind of have to — the oldest two boys can eat three packets at a time!!! We keep the cost low by buying the oatmeal in bulk at the local co-op or by buying generic. Good for us and good for our bottom line — not to mention all the cardboard boxes and bags we aren’t putting into the waste stream.

  26. Keath says:

    The reason not to just store all of it in one big container with a scoop is that the contents over time will become uneven.

    The smaller grains (salt, sugar, creamer) will, over time, find their way to the bottom and the bigger chunks will find their way to the top.

    Individual bags ensure that you will have the same distribution of ingredients in each and every serving.

    That being said, I will never do this because I too am an oatmeal snob and would never eat rolled oats (except in cookies). Steel-cut for me, please.

  27. Love the site, but do you have any hints on creating homemade versions of something that costs a bit MORE than 30 cents a serving?

  28. margo says:

    Nice!

    I used to do this myself, but my local farmers market sells dried, cubed apple so I used to make apple-cinnamon oatmeal (without the creamer). I used Splenda, personally.

    I can’t tell from your picture if you are using the Old-Fashioned Oats (as in, NOT the quick-cooking variety) but that is the kind I always liked the best for texture and taste.

    I am very weird about my breakfast. I have to eat the same thing every day, and do so for months and months– sometimes a year or more– at a time. But then I get burnt out and switch to something else. So I haven’t been doing oatmeal lately (currently on unsweetened yogurt + strawberries + granola).

    But I have passed my oatmeal recipe on to friends and its very popular:

    3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
    1 Tbsp finely diced dried apple
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1 and 1/2 to 2 Tbsp Splenda
    1/4 tsp salt

    1 and 1/4 cup to 1 and 1/2 cup water

    1. Combine dry ingredients and store in a Ziploc or other air-tight container if using later.
    2. When ready to prepare oatmeal, measure out water into a cereal bowl or extra-large mug. For thicker oatmeal, I use about 1 and 1/4 cup of water.
    3. Add well-mixed dry ingredients to water and stir in.
    4. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Stir and eat!

    MJ: I would think it would be tough to do it in a big container because the smaller ingredients would settle to the bottom. If you are prepping for yourself only, what about buying a set of glass microwaveable containers with plastic lids, assembling a weeks’ worth of breakfasts at a time in them?

  29. dave says:

    you definitely saved money…but you lost time. Isn’t time more valuable in the long run??

  30. Mark says:

    Trent,
    Your analysis of the startup costs assumes that you have nothing at all in your pantry. Personally, the only thing I would need to buy to make my own oatmeal is the blueberries – and maybe more oats depending how big of a batch I wanted to make. That’s a cost of 6.28, or $.15/meal – yes, there is some value in what I’m taking out of my pantry, but the quantities are so low that it’s hard to quantify them. Instead I treat those items as something that needs to be replaced every few months (longer for some items, like the creamer) as part of my general kitchen expenses. It’s the same way that I treat spices, flour, etc., because I just don’t use enough at a time to try to allocate them on a per meal basis.
    -Mark

  31. Dave says:

    Folks,

    It’s healthier and more economical to not use the “Instant” oatmeal. I make my own ‘packets’ of oatmeal with regular quaker oats. 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 cup water, zap it 1 minute, stir, zap it 90 more seconds. While microwaving, I use my apple corer/slicer and then a knife to make 12 apple chunks (eat 3 slices, cut the other 3 into 4 pieces). Stir it into the oatmeal, top with cinnamon. Pounds slide off.

    Dave

  32. JReed says:

    I do exactly as Dave does…just half cup old fashioned oats and one cup water, microwaved for two and a half minutes. Add any sort of fruit and any sort of sweetness. Endless variations and no need for baggies. My pounds never slide off though.

  33. heather says:

    Yum! I like my oatmeal too, but I buy the steel cut oatmeal because I like the thick stuff too, and it is better for you. It is not quick though – steel cut oats take about 30 minutes to make, so I make a batch on Sunday night for the whole week and then eat it through out the week. For mix-ins I buy frozen fruits in bulk to add in, and maple syrup.

    Yummy!

  34. Todd says:

    If you want to save some serious cash consider buying bulk oatmeal instead of Quaker. Bulk quick-cook oats are $0.50-$1.00/lb, and some places you can even get organic quick-cook oats for these prices. I’m a fan of Quaker products and quality, but you can get regular and quick-cooked oats in bulk for a lot less than what Quaker sells it for. BTW, Quaker’s new Simple Harvest flavors are pretty good too, and are easy to replicate on your own (which is what I do).

  35. cv says:

    I eat oatmeal in the morning when I get to my office. I just take a mug of hot water from the water cooler, spoon in 1-minute oatmeal straight from the canister, stir in some brown sugar and sometimes some dried fruit. I find that if the water is hot, the oatmeal cooks in the time it takes me to stir it all up, without any time in the microwave. For me, it’s easier than making packets.

  36. Amanda says:

    Cool idea! I like the idea of making a big batch and measuring out what I need each day (I do this with bread machine mix, pancake mix, etc) rather than storing all the baggies.

    Also, I don’t have trackbacks, but wanted to let you know that I linked to your post from my blog:

    librarycollective.blogspot.com

  37. momof4 says:

    Hmmm…never would have pegged you as an instant oat kind of guy. I’m with all the people who use the microwave to cook the old fashioned kind. I use a covered casserole dish and cook up enough for all of us at once and it takes 4 minutes

  38. KC says:

    Wow I didn’t know this many people ate oatmeal. I like it occasionally, but I only eat it in the winter – so maybe a box will last me all year.

  39. KJ says:

    Trent, the universe is clearly clamoring for you to try old-fashioned oats (or even groats). Take the physical challenge!!!

  40. Weird Normal Guy says:

    Um… I take some oatmeal, add some boiling water, and eat it. Highly economical. Easy to throw fruit in. But that’s just me.

  41. Charlene says:

    Have been doing a similiar mix for several years. I keep it in a airtight container with a scoop. I just shake it a little to prevent the good stuff from settling to the bottom…the baggies would drive me bonkers!

  42. Rob Rogers says:

    I actually eat a bowl of oatmeal every day for breakfast. I’ve thought about doing this myself, but to be honest I’m about the laziest person when it comes to making food.

    Plus now that I see your cost breakdown, it wouldn’t really be saving me enough to make it worth it. Instead of the 8 pack boxes you get at the grocery store, I buy my instant packets at Costco for $9.99 for a box of 55. That comes out to 18 cents per packet, or only 3 cents a day more expensive than making your own. At less than a dollar a month, I’m just too lazy to waste my time.

  43. Joyce says:

    I eat oatmeal most mornings, but like you, don’t buy the packets anymore. Too expensive, too sugary, too many additives.

    I don’t use the baggies, just keep a small plastic cup in the cannister (an empty fruitcup container, just about 1/2 cup). A scant scoop in a bowl, and I use low-fat or no-fat milk in place of water, which ups the nutrition factor. I find I can leave out the salt with no loss in flavor.

    I nuke it for about a minute and a half. I add a packet of sweetener, and a bit more milk if needed. I will sometimes add fruit or cinnamon or brown sugar, but made with milk, it’s satisfying to me even plain.

    Thanks for a great article!

  44. Jules says:

    Something I’ve been dying to try is steel cut oats cooked overnight in a slow-cooker. Which is why I wonder why you can’t make regular oatmeal in a slow-cooker overnight, and whether or not that wouldn’t be cheaper. Supposedly it’s like finding God in a pot.

  45. saro says:

    Hi,

    I just wanted to say thank you for these posts. I like all your posts but I really enjoyed this and the laundry detergent post. I hope you do start up your food blog soon!

  46. Rebecca says:

    I read this with much curiosity – like others have said, wouldnt it be much easier just to buy the various ingredients in bulk, have them in your pantry and make them up each morning. My 2 year old and 1 year old and I all eat porridge every morning for breakfast – we make it in the microwave, 1 at a time, and I add whatever the kids fancy that particular day – sultanas, dried fruit, cut up banana and sometimes some honey. it’s delicious and one of my favourite things about winter (i’m australian so we’ve just started eating porridge as the weather cools down).

  47. Carrier says:

    @Jules: you must try steel cut oats! I make mine in a slow cooker (Alton Brown has a basic recipe), and it’s delicious!

  48. CJ says:

    I would argue that adding sugar to oatmeal ruins the whole point of eating oatmeal.

  49. Pamela Gustafson says:

    You need to try steel cut oatmeal; it is better for you. The oatmeal you are eating is very processed. I lowered by high cholestral (255) without medication by eating steel cut oatmeal everday. The cost benefit is not having to pay for expensive medications and preventing heart disease which is also quite costly. by the way steel cut oatmeal is very thick.

  50. lorax says:

    Great article! It was a joy to read and the photos really added to it.

  51. PJ says:

    Instant oatmeal? Non-dairy creamer?! Trent, what are you thinking! With the emphasis you seem to place on good food and healthy cooking, I must say I’m surprised that you would eat/feed your children this stuff.

    I have one of those “fuzzy logic” rice cookers. I use steel-cut oats bought in bulk at the health food store (once you try this, you’ll never eat that blah, flattened stuff again). I put it in the rice cooker the night before, with appropriate quantities of water and a pinch of salt. I then tell the machine what time I want to have breakfast in the morning, push the button, and go to bed. It kicks in at just the right time so that in the morning, I have hot freshly cooked oatmeal, to be flavored to taste with REAL ingredients.

    I make a week’s worth at a time, and for the rest of the week I just scoop out a bowlful, heat in the microwave, and season to taste. Favorites are diced apple with pumpkin seeds, and raisins with peanut butter. The raisins plump in the micro. And nothing beats a fresh nectarine diced into a steaming bowl of oaty goodness! Can’t do that with the pre-packaged stuff.

    I prefer the rice-cooker method to the crockpot because for me, oatmeal cooked in a crockpot comes out tasting burnt. And the crock is hard to clean. In the rice cooker, the result is always perfect, and the non-stick cooking pan is a snap to clean.

    Trent, step away from the instant oatmeal before they hurt you and try some of the REAL stuff.

  52. Michele says:

    Excellent idea, I love oatmeal in the morning. I normally get the packets (Honey Nut). I have to have something crunchy with my oatmeal. I’ll have to make that with shaved walnuts, cinnamon or something. Now that my company allows me to work at home I can just do the tupperware/scooper suggestions from above. THANKS!

  53. Sharron says:

    Great post! I eat oatmeal almost every day. One thing you might consider trying to boost the nutritional value is to add some ground flax seeds to the mixture. Sometimes I mix in homemade cinnamon applesauce instead of milk. Yum.

  54. Ada says:

    Best if you leave out the creamer — it’s made of hydrogenated oils and is full of trans-fat.

  55. Barb D says:

    Though it’s almost summer and out oatmeal consumption is lower in the summer, this is going to be on my “to do” fall prep list. My kids LOVE instant oatmeal for breakfast in the fall and winter. My problem is they eat two packets at a time (growing teens and all). With this, I can save money AND make larger packets to fill them.

    Thanks for the great tips!

  56. lissell says:

    Since everyone seems to be sharing their oatmeal recipes I will throw mine into the hat.

    I really like the Bobs Red Mill oatmeal and it is pretty cheap here in Portland. I just grab a handful, place it in a bowl and add a tablespoon of butter and jam(my favorite is peach jam) cover with water and microwave for three minutes. My oatmeal turns out perfectly seasoned and I only have to clean 1 bowl before leaving for work!

  57. Karen says:

    Target sells their own brand for about 15 cents a packet. They have all of the Quaker flavors as well as the weight loss lone relabeled as their own.
    Thank you for doing these analoqies. I enjoy them and find them to be very informative.

  58. Jerry says:

    I loved this!!! I have oatmeal every day and buy it in bulk at a natural food store for .57 a pound. If you are really serious about it you can buy 50lb bags at .41 a pound (that’s a whole lot of oatmeal!!!). The Walmart store brand figures out to .71 per pound. As for the blueberries, I pick wild ones here in Maine and freeze them.

  59. Mathieu says:

    What a great idea! My family loves oatmeal and we go through a box of the instant quaker oatmeal in 2-3 days easily. At 2.99$ a box, it adds up real quick! I’m going to try this out as soon as we eat the grocery store and make my own “custom” flavors. Thanks for the great post!

  60. Niall says:

    What’s with the salt? Half my family eat oats (or porridge as we call it :D )for breakfast and alot of my friends do aswell and never use salt, just wondering.

    Another quick and slightly different way to have it cold, no cooking. I got tired of having porridge as I always ate it with honey or maple syrup, I find it hard to eat it without something sweet and artifical sweetners just don’t do it for me. My girlfriend uses rice milk instead of any dairy or plain water, she made up two bowls one morning and had hers, I thought mine was microwaved and started on it. It wasn’t it was cold and it was pretty nice. Now it’s rice milk and oats with a bit of cinnimon, it takes a minute (about 2 minutes less than before) to make and it’s pretty nice.

  61. yvie says:

    I wonder too, along with some other folks, why you would do all this when you work from home? You no longer need to prepare convenience foods when all you have to do is stick your hand in a bag of oatmeal every day. Before I go to work I take a handful of large flake oats, a tablespoon of ground flax seed (certainly not necessary but I do it anyway) half a chopped apple, cinnamon if you want, water to cover in a glass bowl, nuke it for 6 minutes while I wash my hair and la voila! I don’t need to waste money or the environment on plastic bags and I can stay away from that yucky artificial creamer.

  62. dj says:

    We buy a 32 oz bag of Bob Red Mill Old Fashion Rolled Oats from our local grocery store for $3. There are 22 servings in a bag.

    We have 4 glass canisters like this,
    in 4 different sizes on our counter. The tallest one holds the oatmeal. The other’s contain rice, beans and nuts. We take a scoop of oats, add water and frozen fruit, and put in the microwave for 3 minutes in a 2 qt glass measuring bowl covered w/a plate. When done we add nuts and milk. Sometimes instead of this, I’ll use chocolate soy milk.

    I’d replace the coffee-mate with nonfat dry milk because of the partially hydrogenated oil. I’d also replace the white sugar with honey and if I wanted dry, I’d use stevia. I would also replace the plastic bags with something reuseable. Either purchase reusable containers, or we reuse our peanut butter jars. I wouldn’t reuse them if they were plastic, especially #7, but in this case they are glass.

    As a general rule, imho, from an expense, health, and environmental perspective, plastic bags, plastic wrap is to be avoided. Do you reuse the bags in this case?

  63. Jessica Woodhouse says:

    Mmm, oatmeal! Still, I have to join the list of people quibbling with your flavoring choices. My tightwad husband (who learned to cook at his French mother’s knee) would never abide Sun-Maid raisins or McCormick spices in his kitchen. He insists — and quite correctly — that ordering spices in bulk from Penzeys is both a better bargain and far better tasting. Also, he goes to the local health food store for organic raisins in bulk – again, cheaper and better than the commercial supermarket stuff. His motto on food is that if they have to spend money on advertising and packaging to get you to buy it, then it can’t actually be any good for you. So if you want to live long and healthy, do like the French do: buy local food, made by people you know, wrapped in plain paper. Good for you — good for the environment — and good for your wallet.

  64. TJP says:

    I can’t stand the consistancey of microwaved oatmeal….I HAVE to cook it on the stove. I bake muffins in advance and freeze them, bring them to work for a mid-morning snack…MUCH cheaper than buying on the road and I know what’s in them. Also make my own coffee and bring cup two in a travel mug or thermos. I’m amazed watching coworkers buy a coffee and muffin daily for about $2!

  65. Anna says:

    I too love oatmeal.

    Seeing so many people who think of packets as the standard blows my mind. It’s like thinking of Kool-Aid as the standard for juice.

    Seeing so many people who cook each day’s oatmeal from scratch without going through the packet routine makes me ever so optimistic about the human race.

  66. Mary says:

    With all the talk of buying cheaper products why would you use all namebrand products? I will agree that some name brand things are worth the extra money but it would certainly make things cheaper. Even if your only saving a few cents per baggie it adds up. It almost looks like an advertisement for ziplock, coffe mate, Quaker, etc. Good idea anyway.

  67. Jen says:

    One of my favorite snacks is a combination of plain yogurt, rolled oats, and raisins flavored with a good dollop of honey and a splash of rosewater. It’s sweet and creamy with a great chewy texture. Cinnamon and brown sugar are good alternative flavorings too.

    Right now, since orthodontia has rendered me unable to chew, my standard lunch is plain yogurt, rolled oats, and a puree of strawberries and mango with a little honey and a squeeze of lemon. I stir it up before I go to work, and by lunchtime the oats have absorbed enough moisture to blend the textures together.

  68. Janet says:

    Ditto some of the previous questions of why bother measuring these out into baggies, instead of either 1) just measuring out the ingredients in the morning – doesn’t take much time to measure 1/4 cup of oats and sprinkle some cinnamon and brown sugar, or 2) put the pre-measured stuff in a big container. (Not being facetious. Just curious and trying to see if I missed something obvious.)

    And agree with the cautions against the nondairy creamer.

    Thanks for this blog, by the way – it’s great!

  69. Sam H. says:

    I like your method in theory, but those portions look awfully small. I use 2 packets at a time because 1 just isn’t enough (I have several boxes of packets that I got on sale but might switch to your method when we finish them all).

    Does one of those packets really fill you up?

  70. Penny Squeaker says:

    Trent,

    Beautiful presentation!!!!

    I love oatmeal. Getting my famly used to the taste. Saves a bundle of money on breakfast.

    I don’t know how a picture of the recipts gets into the webportal, but It’s wonderful to actualy see it w/ones own eyes.

  71. Cindy in NY says:

    I buy the big cannister of storebrand Quick Oats from Price Rite. It used to be 1.39 but just recently went yp to 1.69! :( From that cannister, I get about 30 servings or about .06 a servings. I use a heaping 1/3 cup with just over 1/2 cup water and microwave for 1 minute 15 seconds on high. Then I add a bit of milk and brown suagr. Trent – your oatmeal still looks too soupy for me! Mine is the consistency of play dough!!

  72. I love this. Love it. Can’t wait to try it. And I love some of the suggestions made by other commenters!

  73. Lisa says:

    •sea salt if you must, but you won’t miss salt
    •steel cut oats; not the overly processed ones
    •brown sugar, molasses, raisins, or honey; not splenda, not white stuff
    •always add a fruit
    •not in a plastic bag; not even in a plastic bowl (when hot)

    The other day you suggested heating burritos wrapped in plastic. Yikes

    Poor health and medical costs go in the expense column. An environment filled with plastic ziplocks has a cost too.

  74. Lisa says:

    • And don’t use water; use fat free milk instead

  75. Mel says:

    I think it’s great, if I wasn’t allergic to oats, I’d eat oatmeal all the time. The only problem I haev with your blueberries and cream recipe is the non-dairy creamer. Do you know that stuff is mostly made of partially hydrogenated oil?

    If I were you, I’d leave out the n-d creamer and just add the powdered milk as you make it.

  76. Fern says:

    I love oatmeal, but IMO, you guys are all eating mush! Skip the instant stuff and skip the instant or even so-called “old-fashioned” oatmeal.

    If you like oatmeal, don’t go another day without trying STEEL CUT oatmeal. It is far superior to regular oatmeal, chewier (like wheat berries) and very filling. Yes,it takes 30 minutes to cook, but start it in the morning then take your shower or do whatever else you need to do to get ready for the day. Or simply double or triple the batch and keep the leftovers for the next several mornings.

    I add rice milk, walnuts, raisins and (real) maple syrup to mine and it’s delicious. Trust me, you will LOVE the steelcut oats.

  77. partgypsy says:

    OK, I’ll post my oatmeal recipe. Buy bulk steel cut oats at Whole foods (1/3? the cost of oats in cannisters). Put 1 cup oats with 2 cups milk, 2 cups water, dab of salted butter in a pot. Heat till boiling, then turn down to low and cook another 20 minutes. I usually add cinnamon and honey. That makes enough for 2 days. Repeat the process.

    I do have to say I’m intrigued by the oatmeal crock pot recipes, and the use of dried apple sounds very delicious.

  78. Lisa says:

    Maybe snack sized bags would cut the cost?

  79. Lise says:

    To all of you (including Trent) who microwave their oats: how the heck do you keep it from boiling over and covering the microwave in goo? Or all you all microwaving with lids on?

    The microwave boilover problem is what keeps me from having a proper bowl of oatmeal at work…

  80. Allie says:

    I love these posts. They really make you think about already seemingly frugal daily expenses. I eat oatmeal every day at work and will definitely start making my own. I love everyone’s recipes and ideas. I also had no idea things could be cheaper at the health food store. I just assumed they were more expensive. Can’t wait to see for myself.

  81. Lisa says:

    Lise: good question about the boiling over. First, I cook my steel cut oats in a glass batter bowl (the kind with a handle on the side; like an 8 cup liquid measuring cup)so it is tall, set the microwave to 6 minutes (your microwave may very), and then SET THE POWER TO 50%. Lowering the power is the key. Microwaves don’t really lower the power. They just are sometimes on and sometimes off. This is actually rather cool to watch as it bubbles up when the microwave is nuking it, then all the oatmeal settles down while it is not nuking, then the volcano builds up again, etc. No lid.

  82. Cathie says:

    Such a timely post! I eat oatmeal everyday at work, and I’ve just run out. I was wondering if I could do this for myself. Perfect-I can’t wait to try it.

  83. Carrie says:

    I stop the boilover problem by mixing in the raisins before putting the bowl in the microwave. The raisins seem to act as a buffer.

  84. babs says:

    I’ve also started bringing my own homemade oatmeal packets!

    At the office we have an Insinkerator “instant” hot water tap, so I use that water, then microwave for 3 min. at 20% power. The oats boil up and just barely kiss the lip of the bowl when the power kicks down.

    I buy all the ingredients at Aldi. They have a dried berry mix that tastes good in this, as well as dried blueberries, raisins, and some other dried fruits available. Brown sugar is tastier than plain sugar, I think.

    If you have small containers with lids, you don’t have to use plastic zipper baggies; just rinse and reuse your containers. I make a small batch of 5 servings on a Sunday night, and bring them to work for the week. I really have no appetite for breakfast til I arrive at the office.

    And here I thought I was being SOOOOO unique! Clearly I am in good company!

  85. Erin says:

    Non-dairy creamer? Quaker oats?!? Tens of plastic bags at a time?!?!?

    I love the theory of this post, Trent, but I think you’re selling yourself short! Ditto all the PP recommending steel cut oats (I swear you will never go back), and since you work at home now I think you could sacrifice some of the convenience factor for something that would take about 10 additional seconds, and be much more flavorful and healthy. A canister of oats, a canister of dried fruit, and the cinnamon right on the counter – milk in the fridge – glass bowls above the microwave – you’re good to go!

    As is, this post is kind of like saying you’ve figured out how to make discount Wonderbread at home. Making it cheaper doesn’t necessarily make it any good :)

  86. Kara B. says:

    My family eats “quick” oatmeal fairly regularly. We put rolled oats (purchased in a 50 pound bag) in the food processor and chop it up slightly (so it cooks faster). Just chop it a little – you want some bigger pieces for texture, but if you chop it a little it will help it cook faster and be more smooth. Then we add dried fruits and/or nuts – walnuts and dried apples, pecans and raisins with cinnamon, dried cranberries or cherries with almonds – variations are pretty much endless. We add no salt or sugar (we do like to add honey or molasses when serving). I keep it in a large bowl with a lid or in a large ziploc type bag. For one bowl full put 2/3 cup oat mixture in a bowl. Then add about 1 cup (or a little less) boiling water. Stir slightly (it will get gummy if you keep stirring) and then let it sit for 1 minute. Add milk if you want and honey or molasses. We love this stuff! This is much more healthy than packaged instant oatmeal and is not so sickening sweet! We like it because it is fast, and also not gummy like traditional oatmeal. We also love to eat baked oatmeal – kind of a cakelike texture (although not so sweet) with milk on top.

  87. Vanessa says:

    I eat oatmeal most mornings. I don’t have a microwave at home and I hate washing out pots so I baggie my oatmeal and microwave it at work. Scoop of oatmeal, few shakes of cinnamon, touch of brown sugar and it’s ready to go. Takes no time at all to baggie it every day. I also must have soymilk in my oatmeal, never water, yuck! I prefer maple syrup to sugar but haven’t figured out an easy way to transport it without taking the whole bottle. Also, I reuse my baggies, not sure if anyone else does.

    Microwaving is quite easy too. I use a soup mug, kind of cross between a mug and a bowl. It’s ceramic and has a handle, think I got it from the dollar store. Microwave for a minute, stir. Microwave another minute, stir. Microwave for 30 seconds, done!

    It puzzles me too, that some people see instant packets as the standard for oatmeal. I stopped eating those packets long ago, not for health reasons, but because of the texture, like sawdust. I don’t even like the 1-minutes oats in the canister. Plus such small portions! I like a chewier texture so I think I may be ready to try steel-cut oats though and experiment with some flavors beyond my standard brown sugar/cinnamon combo. Never thought about adding fruit besides raisin. Thanks for the flavor ideas, Trent! But Like Janet, I have to question the serving size. 1/4 cup? I’m a tiny lady and I need 1/2 cup at least.

    I just remembered Alton Brown did a show on oatmeal, using a slow cooker even. I think his sentiments about instant oatmeal and pretty much what’s been stated here and steel cut is his preference as well. I should see if my library has that episode on dvd.

  88. Becca says:

    I just fill a small Gladware container each night with rolled oats, brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Next day at work, pour in mug, add hot water, voila. I don’t care if food snobs have a problem with it. It’s what I like and it takes 30 seconds at home, 30 seconds at work.

  89. Fiona says:

    Porridge is not only an economical way to break your fast (plain oats cooked on the stove top in less than 5 minutes while making the lunches, feeding the cat, drying your hair …), the savings extend into the day. You’ll be satisfied until lunchtime and won’t need a mid morning snack. My father always added a good amount of salt in homage to his Scottish forebears but I like a little soft brown sugar instead. In my experience, the stovetop method produces good thick porridge. If you are pressed for time, soaking the oats in water overnight softens them before cooking in the morning and reduces the cooking time. Eating porridge (as I’ve done since childhood), even with some sugar, makes prepared and packaged breakfast cereals taste too sweet to me. This includes those which are marketed as healthy alternatives. As these other cereals are generally much more expensive than porridge made from scratch at home, I’m feeling very good on multiple levels about getting my oats.

  90. How clever!
    It’s always simple things like this that I never think of.
    Of course, I wonder what the caloric difference between DIY and pre-packaged is? I know it’s usually way healthier to make food rather than buy pre-packaged, but I’m terrible at the calculations! Anyone care to give it a go, with just the basics (oatmeal, sugar, salt, coffee mate)?

  91. djc says:

    regarding steel cut oats in the slow cooker – I put 1/4 cup of the steel cut oats in a standard cereal bowl with 1 cup of almond or soy milk with a dash of salt. I set a trivet in the slow cooker insert and add a couple of inches of water to the bottom. Then I cover the cereal bowl with foil and set it on the trivet, then put the lid on. Set it on the low setting to cook overnight – comes out wonderfully creamy, and only one bowl to soak clean.

  92. Jasi says:

    You could use wax paper and masking tape or wax baggies instead of plastic.

    And pumpkin pie seasoning with raisins in nearly any baked good or cereal is awesome. I throw them into those .33c muffin mixes for a dozen smallish muffins – usually the oatmeal or bran mix. It’s a cheap and yummy grab and go.

  93. tjc says:

    I’m very, very confused about something:
    If I want THICKER (instant) oatmeal, I use LESS WATER.
    If I want it thinner, I use MORE water.

    Am I doing it wrong? What’s with all these suggestions for how to make instant / minute oatmeal thicker? And why wouldn’t this work for crock-pot oatmeal too?

    I’ve been using more or less water for years. When I use packets, I dump two of them in a mug and add enough water to get the consistency I like. For my own stuff, I’ve figured out what amounts work for me.

  94. tjc says:

    For myself, I make my oatmeal this way:
    I use 3x 1/4 cups oats (=3/4 cup) and 1-1/2 cups of water. I leave the 1/4 cup measuring cup in the container of oats and the water measuring cup on top, next to the microwave.
    I nuke it in a large bowl (no boil-over) for 2 minutes.

    When done, I add a packet of Stevia and about a tablespoon of vanilla, and a large amount of cinnamon (maybe a tablespoon too). Stir and eat!

    Quick, filling, and tasty. Nutmeg is a good replacement for cinnamon, or almond extract for the vanilla.

  95. Benjamin says:

    I just took a container of Quaker Instant Oats to work and stuck at the back of my desk. I then take a bowl, spoon, and 3 packets of sugar from the cafeteria and make myself a hot breakfast with the hot water tap in the vending area. I eat it as I read and respond to my overnight emails. Then I take the empty bowl to the dish area and I’m done. For about $2.99 I have breakfast for 2-3 weeks. Of course I also pay more for eating lunch in the cafeteria :-).

    Ben

  96. Katey says:

    I do this in a mason jar at home, more as a time saving measure (and thus encouragement to eat breakfast at home rather than buying muffins at Dunkins on my way into work)… Instant oats, oat bran, powdered milk, brown sugar, and salt for me. Being able to dump some in a bowl and add hot water from the kettle that gets heated up to make tea anyways is pretty brainless, even for someone as regularly hung over and running late for work as I am.

  97. Wendy says:

    I do this all the time …. we have an ‘almost boiling water tap’ at the office – it is hot enough to cook instand oatmeal. I keep baggies of the outmeal at my desk – I keep cycling the same 5-6 baggies over and over again. I had not thought of using oatmeal powder as a thickening agent though – great idea! Also like some of your seasoning ideas. I usually just dump several tablespoons of low fat yogurt over the cooked oatmeal – it is a healthy addition and I don’t need any sugar added. The oatmeal and yogurt are a perfect balance of calories and energy and i have this in the afternoon an hour before I hit the gym – it tides me over for the workout until I get home for dinner.

  98. Crystal says:

    Thank you, now I know what to do with my free bottle of coffee mate!

  99. NicoleLB says:

    I’ve been doing this for ages, and my family thought I was crazy. I tried scrolling through to see if anyone had my tips, and they’re there in one form or another, but here’s my go-

    I use old-fashioned oats, and then i mix up a batch of the flavoring. Reason being is that I use vanilla and almond extract, and a whole teaspoon is unnecessary and uneconomical for one serving, mixing it up and bagging it allows the even distribution of the small bit of liquid, I find the flavors get better after a couple days of being combined (probably the evaporation of the alcohol more than anything else)

    I also add ground flaxseed, which I find to be a natural thickener. I use a mix of brown sugar, splenda, and the extracts. I’ve also tried a non-dairy creamer in the most recent batch and the verdict is a draw.

    I leave the baggies in my desk at work for the days I forget a real breakfast.

    Also, why buy name brand baggies? I bought a box at the dollar store and reuse them.

  100. Lisa Z says:

    Great ideas, everyone! I just keep a 1/2 c. measuring cup in my Old Fashioned Oats container. At night before bed, I put 1/2 c. oats and 1 c. water and a pinch of salt into a pot. I let it sit overnight (Quaker Oats used to recommend this–it helps with digestion), then in the morning heat it up for less than 5 minutes. I then add cream or milk or plain yogurt, maybe some jam or maple syrup or brown sugar, and some fruit and nuts and it’s.so.yummy!

    Some mornings I don’t even cook it. It tastes great cold with some unsweetened coconut and the above ingredients added in. I used to hate mush, but with all the additions and my advanced age (37), I now love oatmeal! I call it “meusli” when I eat it cold.

    Lisa in MN

  101. sam says:

    I don’t make baggies, but I do make single bowls at a time every so often. What I do is: cook the oatmeal, mash up a banana and mix that with the oats. Then I sprinkle some Ovaltine over it to add some chocolate flavor.

  102. I just found this post and am so excited to make my own packets! I’m a kick right now where I’m preparing packaged items for myself so this will help a lot!

  103. Heather says:

    Johanna (Comment 8)! First of all, you’re the second Johanna I’ve met and I love your name. Secondly, that sounds like a great idea! I don’t like making oatmeal precisely for its “convenience”; I can’t control the amount of liquid or thickness in the microwave. I’m going to try your method!
    Another idea: Keep a sugar shaker handy. I feel that most people have more than one salt and pepper shaker set, so why not fill one of these with sugar or a sugar/cinnamon combo and figure out how many shakes you need? Then you can keep it by the stove when you cook it all up.

  104. Janel says:

    I love the blueberry and cream idea. Thanks for the great analysis. I’m sold.

  105. Susan says:

    try using a couple of good shakes of pumpkin pie spice. I store my oatmeal, brown sugar etc. in mason jars and while I am making my coffee I just take a scoop of oatmeal with a shake or two of salt I spoonful of brown sugar and a shake or two of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and I am done. The ingredients stay fresh and it probably takes me the same amount of time it would take to do the process with filling, sealing emptying and storing a packet. All the mason jars line my kitchen windowsill (which is in the shade all day every day) Any time companies put things in individual packs your eating so many more chemicals it is scary. Tastes much better to do it yourself.

  106. Tina says:

    Four out of the five people in my house eat oatmeal several days a week…and I had the same thought you did. “Are we wasting money on this instant stuff?” A quick Google search and here I am! Thanks so much for taking the time make such a detailed post.

    Here are two things I’m thinking…and that will be easy to modify making my own packets. First, I can make larger servings. My children are all three typically slim, active kids…and they eat two packets of Quaker Instant. Second, because much of our oatmeal is made at 6:45 in the morning, with hungry but still-sleepy kids waiting, speed is the key. Because I can use so many packets before they ever had a chance to go bad, I’m going to go ahead and add butter to the packets and just keep them in the fridge. (This also allows me to control the kids’ intake of butter.) Fridge…bowl…microwave…warm, full tummies!

    I can even make large, family-size packets assuming all three kids are eating it. And, like Susan (who posted a comment right before me), I’m glad to avoid some of the chemicals added to instant foods.

    Thanks, again! – Tina

  107. Lauren says:

    I made the oatmeal packets, great hit with the kids. I am now looking foward to pre making alot more stuff to save money.

  108. daniel says:

    you can go to sam’s club or some other wholesale store and buy a 55 variety pack of quaker instant oatmeal for less than $15.

    It comes out to around a quarter per packet. You lose.

  109. Charli Gordon says:

    I have been doing this for years, especially when I worked and had an early morning schedule. The prepackaged oatmeal was always too sweet and contained cinnamon, which I don’t like in my oatmeal. I prefer raisins and walnuts/almonds and bananas, no sugar, salt or cinnamon. Even if it cost more, the fact that you get it “your way” is the appealing thing for me. I use the snack bags and Glad 1/2 and 1 cup plastic bowls are great to pack things in serving sizes. This really helps when you are eating healthy or trying to lose weight.

  110. fullfaun says:

    My niece and nephews LOVE peaches and cream oatmeal and have eaten it for breakfast, lunch and dinner a few days. This is great. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!

  111. Annie says:

    This is the second time I am making these packets. I love having them on hand at my office. Any time I get hungry (snacks and other meals) I grab a spare coffee mug, dump and go. I even have other staff members asking for them. Thanks so much for this great idea!

    Cheers!

  112. Mel says:

    I liked this post, they look exactly like the store pre-packaged variety. However, I still go the old fashioned way, half-cup of oats on the stove, 3/4 cup of milk (recently discovered lactose intolerance so I now use bonsoy), maple syrup or cinnamon and whatever fruit is around for flavour. I know traditional steel cut are better and I used to use these but I’m now buying rolled quick oats (with nothing added) just to save time. I know the energy is released quicker but I figure it’s still healthy.

  113. lee says:

    ditto on soaking the “old fashioned” oats– bought at the bulk store– overnight. then they cook in less than 5 minutes.
    1/2 c. oats (or 1/3 depending on your tastes) with 1 c. water and a pinch of salt if desired, into a pot while getting ready for bed.

  114. Molly says:

    I still love this recipe. I make it monthly. I’ve also shared it with multiple coworkers. Thanks!

  115. CL says:

    Thanks for the tip.

    I hoard some packages of splenda from work and mix that with the cinnamon.

    I also picked up 3 tubs of oatmeal from the 99 cents store.

    Overall, I literally spent $3 on 120 bags.

  116. Vanessa says:

    Good grief, it’s just oatmeal. I think the idea behind the post is that when you find yourself eating and enjoying A LOT of a certain item, sometimes it is fun and satisfying if you can make it yourself at home and come out with a tastier or economical manner. I think some of these steel-cut oat people need to relax a bit – with your crazed attitude, I will think twice before trying them!!! We all have a not-so authentic version of “real food” that we like – cool whip vs. whipped cream, parboiled white rice instead of brown, etc…. A touch of powdered creamer and some instant oats in homemade instant oatmeal is not the evil threat to America than you seem to think it is!

  117. liz says:

    This is great for backpacking. Add everything in a freezer ziploc bag. You can just add boiling water, zip up and then eat. Easy clean up and pack out the baggies.

  118. Paula says:

    I microwave my water for about 2 minutes. Then tip in just a few grains of oatmeal and the carriers. The water will bubble, but not overflow. Add a bit more to be sure I’ve “neutralized” the volcano chances, and then pour in the balance. I let the cup rest for a couple of minutes on my desk, stir and enjoy. It always comes out perfectly.

  119. Kate says:

    another daily oatmeal-eater here. I second #96 Katey in that if you add oat bran, you up the nutrition significantly, and add to the creaminess (it’s quick and great at absorbing too much water). And I agree with everyone saying: the bigger the oat flakes, the healthier. Non-dairy creamer= BAD.
    p.s. I also don’t think honey is the healthier choice, it’s almost completely fructose.

  120. Christy says:

    When pairing coupons and sales, I can usually get Quaker instant packets at $1.00 a box or less (8 packets in a box). Since I have 2 computers, I can print out 4 coupons at a time. The last time I stockpiled, I bought a kind with blueberries!

  121. Dominique says:

    WOW! A lot of oatmeal fans here, I see. I confess, I love the convenience of instant oatmeal, but I rarely use it, since the cost & waste from the packaging irks me. I’m going to try this recipe – as for the non-dairy creamer being bad … I’m lactose intolerant, and powdered milk is MURDER on my poor system. Any suggestions on a dry lactose free cream replacement for the mix, other than Coffee-mate (or generic)?
    Also, so many people recommend steel-cut oats … is it possible to chop the steel-cut oats into smaller pieces and mix them with the instant? Would that work, or would the SC oats affect the cooking time too much?

  122. Steph K says:

    “Cofffee Mate” dairy subsitute is shelf-stable, but contains hydrogenated oils and other ingredients you might not wish to eat.

    Powdered milk, natural soy drink powder -or just adding regular milk or soy milk on preparation- is a healthier choice.

  123. Julie says:

    I do this all the time!! I reuse my plastic snack baggies, too. I hate the weird processed flakes in the Quaker packets, I like the big chunky oats in the DIY version. I add sugar, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and a dash of nutmeg, and eliminate the salt (I’m watching my sodium). Sometimes I add ground flax seed. It’s So. Damn. Good. I’m never going back to packets.

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