Jan 19, 2012

DIY Instant Oatmeal Packets - CHEAP, Delicious, and Healthy!



Ok - so you know I am always on the fly (literally) and it is hard to eat when you have no stove, cooktop, or refrigeration at your disposal.  Last year I shared some of the lengths a which I go to to eat healthy on the plane - Burrito ala Galley post right here - but now I am tackling a new issue.  Instant Oatmeal.


In an effort to eat healthy in the mornings I have taken to instant oatmeal as a quick, healthy breakfast that meets most of my flight attendant needs.  It can be kept in my bag without refrigeration and cooked up at a moments notice with hot water from the coffee maker on board...or in the hotel room if needed.  Perfect, right?  Eh, not so right.  The cost for an organic box of instant oatmeal is $3.49 + tax for 8 packages which makes them around .47 cents each.  Not too bad...but most people (not me) like to eat more than one package at a time.  This 8 package box will last me one week of work.  That means 4 boxes a month which equals a little over $15 a month.  Overall, the price is ok but the amount of packaging that comes with it is ridiculous.  We love to recycle here (and at work!) but I could no longer justify the constant boxes coming in and out of this house on a weekly basis.  Some may think I am crazy, but this year I am doing my best to reduce my overall impact on our planet and instant oatmeal is first on my list!  :)  Here is how it's done:

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups quick oats (I got mine in the bulk food section at Whole foods for $1.39/lb)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Take one cup of quick oats and pulse in the Cuisinart or blender till they are a somewhat fine powder
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients above.  Mix mix mix and store in an airtight container.
  3. Use 1/3 cup oatmeal mix to about 1/2 cup hot water, milk, or soy milk.   How much liquid depends on how runny or thick you like your oatmeal. 
  4. Let stand for a minute then enjoy!
THAT'S IT!!!  SERIOUSLY!

But, ya'll know I had to jazz mine up a bit!  As a vegetarian, I need to make the most of my food when I eat so I try to add fiber, protein, and a good dose of yummy to everything I eat.  Here is my revised version of Cinnamon Spice Quick Oatmeal:

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 Cups Quick Oats (again, I got mine in the bulk food section at Whole foods for $1.39/lb)
  • 1TBS Cinnamon
  • 1TBS Sugar
  • 1TBS Chia Seeds
  • 1TBS Ground Flax Seeds
  • 1/8 tsp Salt (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Take one cup of quick oats and pulse in the Cuisinart or blender till they are a somewhat fine powder
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients above.  Mix mix mix and store in an airtight container.
  3. Use 1/3 cup oatmeal mix to about 1/2 cup hot water, milk, or soy milk.  How much liquid depends on how runny or thick you like your oatmeal.  
  4. Let stand for a minute then enjoy!
Picture Play by Play:


See the difference in texture from the ground oats to the regular?


Can you see the Cinnamon and Chia seeds?  OK, hardly, but I know they are in there!



Again - THAT'S IT!  I like to add walnuts to the top since I am not sure if adding them to the powder would make them turn rancid eventually.  Either way, I always have walnuts when I travel so it is no big deal to throw them on top.  Other variations could include fruit, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, coconut, and the list goes on!

Here is a list of ideas you can add to the basic mixture:

Cinnamon Raisin:
  • 1 TBS Raisins, 1 TBS Cinnamon
Berries and Cream:
  • 1-2TBS dried creamer, 1-2TBS freeze Dried Berries
Smore's Oatmeal:
  • 1 Graham Cracker pounded to a powder, 1 TBS sugar, a small scoop of mini marshmallows, 1 TBS mini chocolate chips...or regular chocolate chips.
Carribean Queen...or King: 
  • 1 TBS ground ginger, 1 TBS sugar, 1 TBS dried coconut, chopped dried mangoes
GORP Oatmeal:
  • Raisins, Peanuts, chocolate chips in whatever amounts you desire

For now I am keeping my Instant Oatmeal in a airtight Tupperware container.  The whole point of doing this was to save money and help the environment so I feel separating it out into small Ziplocs would be wasteful unless you plan to use them again to which I say go for it!  For me, once I go back to work, it will be easier for me to keep the mixture in a jar with a 1/3 scooper in it.  Since I am not separating it out it would be best to remember to shake the mix each time before scooping so the good stuff doesn't settle to the bottom!

So let's get a cost breakdown.  The only ingredient I had to buy was the quick oats at $1.39 a lb.  I wound up buying 1.62 lbs ($2.25) which breaks down to 7 cups of oatmeal which = 3.5 batches of this recipe.  I wound up only making one batch so that I can make a new flavor later.  Either way, each batch is equal to 6 - 1/3 cup dry portions which is the same amount in the store bought packages.  

Ugh...my math is horrible but let's push on...

3.5 batches = 21 1/3 cup dried portions.  
$2.25 for the oatmeal + 9.5% tax = $2.46
$2.46/ 21 portions = 11 cents per delicious serving!  


As I stated earlier the organic store bought instant oatmeal came to 47 cents each.  We are saving 36 cents per serving.  Now, I know, I know, I added things to mine that cost money.  Each item I added was already in the house and readily available.  Again, the great thing about this recipe is you can make it as basic or extravagant as you want!  The store, in most cases, charges you the same for regular or cinnamon spice.The only thing you really need is the oats and water.

Now that I have this in my arsenal of airplane cooking it will be a rare case to see deep fried hash brown patties passing through these lips!  I am happy to have a cheaper and healthy way to have breakfast as well as one that is more environmentally conscious.  Boxed instant oatmeal beware...this recipe has made you extinct in our house.

So what kind of oatmeal do you like?  If you plan to make this recipe, what flavor combos will you create?

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