Instant Oatmeal That Doesn’t Suck
It you eat instant oatmeal a lot, I’m about to offend you.
I think the stuff just plain sucks. It’s like somebody cut up tiny pieces of cardboard, mixed in some sugar, and stuck it in crappy little pouches with a few freeze-dried berries. The only time I really purposefully eat it is if I’m camping. It’s barely worth the energy it takes to microwave it.
This was not always my view on the stuff. There was a period in my life where I thought that oatmeal was instant oatmeal. I didn’t realize that oatmeal existed that didn’t come in microwaveable packaging. Once I made the jump to real rolled oats (and then steel-cut oats) I never really looked back – sacrificing some time for flavor and extra fiber.
The only category that instant oatmeal can claim a win in is time. Real oatmeal (especially steel-cut oatmeal) takes time to make. But, thanks to a tip off from a friend (Thanks Sean), this is the definitive way to make delicious oatmeal that takes the same amount of time to make as instant oatmeal and tastes like NOT cardboard.
Oh… it’s also cheaper.
Homemade Instant Oatmeal
Yield: 8 servings
3 cups steel cut oats
10 cups water
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dried strawberries, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup cooked oats
2 tablespoons milk
1) Bring water to a simmer in a large pot with a pinch of salt.
2) Once simmering, stir in oats and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until oats are tender. It's okay if they still have some bite to them. If they get really thick, feel free to add a bit more water. Stir regularly to make sure they don't stick to the bottom. Heat should be on medium-low to medium.
3) Once oats are mostly cooked, stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and dried strawberries. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
4) Transfer to a storage container and store in the fridge for up to five days.
1) Scoop out 1/2-3/4 cup of oat mixture and mash with a spoon in a bowl. Add about 2 tablespoons of milk to the oats and microwave on high for 90 seconds.
2) Top oats with banana slices, fresh blueberries, and peanut butter.
There really isn’t much of a trick to this method. Basically you just cook a metric ton of oats, mix in lots of good flavors, and then reheat individual servings as needed. Since you are cooking a bunch of oats, I recommend using steel cut oats. They will store better and have a better texture than the rolled oats in my opinion. For about a buck, you can by enough in the bulk section to make enough oats for the entire week.
If you happen to buy your oats in the breakfast aisle, they will be more expensive. I sometimes see steel-cut oats in containers for like $9 which is just ridiculous. Even Whole Foods sells them for about $1.20/lb in the bulk section.
Cooking steel-cut oats takes a lot of water and some time because of their thickness. It’s a great thing to do on Sunday morning and then you can eat some and store the rest for later.
To make them just bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Then pour in the oats!
These will need to simmer for at least 30 minutes but probably closer to 40 minutes until they are tender. You don’t want them mushy at all since they are going to be reheated later.
Stir them regularly over medium-low heat so they don’t stick to the bottom and if they get too thick, don’t be afraid to add more water.
When they are done they should be nice and thick and still have a tiny bite to them. But they shouldn’t be crunchy at all if that makes sense.
This was the consistency of my finished oats.
Normally, I keep my oatmeal pretty standard, but since this recipe makes an enormous batch, it makes sense to add in some fun flavors.
I used some cinnamon, vanilla, and dried strawberries in true instant oatmeal fashion.
Just stir this stuff into the oats when it’s done cooking!
You probably want to let the oats cool for 5-10 minutes and then you can store them in the fridge for 5 days or so.
The Reheating Method
When you wake up in the morning, you may think that I sabotaged your breakfast. The oats will be in a near-solid block in your fridge.
That’s okay though! Just scoop out about 1/2-3/4 cup of the oats per bowl depending on how hungry you are.
Mash the oats in a microwaveable bowl and add in a few tablespoons of milk. Microwave the oats on high for 90 seconds just like you would instant oats!
When they come out, stir them up really well and top them with anything you want. I like banana, blueberries, and a small spoonful of peanut butter.
This is seriously the reheated version that I made days after I made my batch. I didn’t use the fresh stuff just to make the photo look good or anything.
This is one of those things that just makes sense after you read it but for some reason I never thought to do it until someone told me it worked.
So this is me telling you that it works.