Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Make your own: Instant Oatmeal Packets

I read that it was possible to make your own instant oatmeal packets several years ago.  I filed that away in my bookmarks for the day that I decided spending $2.50 on a box of conveniently packaged oatmeal was far too hard for me to accomplish.
OK, so maybe I had inclinations of being frugal and healthy way back then but let me tell you, with 3 kids under 5 years of age I was far too busy to care about the sugar content in instant oatmeal.  I needed that sugar just to survive the multiple diaper changes in one day.

Making your own instant oatmeal packets will save you money and best of all put you in control of what you and your family are eating.  You might not know this so I'll let you in on a secret- I'm a control freak, so this is right up my alley.

What you'll need:

3 cups Oatmeal
Pinch to 1/8 tsp. salt for each baggie
Blender (or food processor)

You can use either quick-cooking oats or rolled oats; your choice.  If you use rolled oats you will need to chop them up in the food processor or blender to make them into quick-cooking oats.

Take 1 cup of the oatmeal and process it in the blender or food processor until it is oat powder; you may need to process 1/2 cup at a time if using a blender.

Make your packets
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp. oat powder
pinch of salt

To prepare:
Dump your oatmeal in a bowl and add 3/4 cup boiling water.  Mix and let rest for 1-2 minutes to thicken.  I have also had success with mixing 3/4 cup water in the bowl with the oatmeal and microwaving for about 90 seconds, stopping once to stir.

Flavor Combinations
We all know oatmeal usually tastes better with yummy flavors mixed in; here are a few flavor combinations you can add directly to your packets.

Sweetened Oatmeal: 1 Tbsp. sugar or other dry sweetener of your choice.
Brown Sugar & Cinnamon: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Apple Cinnamon: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. chopped dried apples, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Banana Bread: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. chopped dried bananas, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of nutmeg
Fruit & Cream: 1 Tbsp. non-dairy coffee creamer (I used vanilla because that is what I had) and 2 Tbsp. dried fruit (you could use peaches, apricots, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
Raisin: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and 1 T. raisins (you can also add raisins to the apple cinnamon oatmeal)
Health Packed: Add 2 Tbsp wheat germ and/or 1/2-1 Tbsp. ground flax meal

I added 1/2 Tbsp. of ground flax meal to each of my packets; it's an easy way to sneak in some beneficial ingredients without my kids knowing.

When testing these packets I first made all brown sugar and cinnamon packets.  The three kids who eat oatmeal tried it and proclaimed it was the best they'd ever eaten, so I take that as success.  This time I made 3 different flavors for some variety, banana bread, apple cinnamon, and strawberries and cream.

Good luck and have fun taking control of your oatmeal!