Along the same lines as the mixes post below, I am sharing with you my new favorite "make it at home instead of buy it" money-saving recipe. INSTANT OATMEAL. Those little packets that you have to eat 3 of in order to not be hungry by 10am (ok maybe just 2?). Anyway, all kidding aside, these little things are packed with preservatives and additives. We've recently given up cold cereal at our house (I know, we're crazy!) and this is our g0-to breakfast now. These are generously sized, so they're equal to about 2 of the little packets you buy at the store. You can half the amounts below for little kid packets, but we've got all big kids at our house and these are just the right size for school-age appetites. I spend less than 30 minutes putting these little packets together and we're set for the whole week!
First, process some of your quick oats in the blender or food processor until powdery. How much you process depends on how many packets you're planning to make. Start with processing 1-2 C. and go from there, processing more as needed.
START WITH: 1/2 C. oatmeal (quick works best) + 1/4 tsp. salt + 1/4 C. powdered oats
SWEETENED OATMEAL: 1-2 T. sugar
BROWN SUGAR / CINNAMON: 1-2 T. brown sugar + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
RAISINS / BROWN SUGAR: 1-2 T. brown sugar + 2 T. raisins
CINNAMON RAISIN (my personal fave): 1-2 T. brown sugar + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon + 2 T. raisins
APPLE CINNAMON: 1-2 T. sugar + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon + 1/4 C. chopped dried apples
APPLE CINNAMON RAISIN: 1-2 t. sugar + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon + 2 T. raisins + 2 T. chopped dried apples
FRUIT AND CREAM: 1-2 T. sugar + 2 T. non-dairy coffee creamer + 1/2 C. dried fruit
TO COOK: Empty oatmeal mix into a bowl. Add 1/2-3/4 C. boiling water. Stir and let stand for 2 minutes. Adjust as desired for thinner or thicker oatmeal. Alternately, you can add 1/2-3/4 C. water from the tap, stir, and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, stir, and enjoy!
A few notes to the above...
- Store in air-tight containers (snack-size baggies are just the right size). Write the flavor with a sharpie on the outside before filling.
- The original recipes I found call for the larger amount of sugar, but we've found the smaller amount to be sufficient. Start with less and add more if needed.
- I usually like to add about twice the given amount of raisins. Yum!
- If you're using dried fruit, make sure it is SOFT. If using bananas, for instance, banana "chips" won't work. They'll be crunchy little bits in your oatmeal. But hey, if you like 'em that way, more power to ya. :)
- The easiest way to chop soft dried fruit is with a pair of kitchen shears.
- Quick oatmeal works best, and you don't have to process any of the oatmeal if you don't want to. Just omit the powdered oatmeal. The processed oatmeal makes the finished product more "mushy" like the store-bought packets, but is not necessary. I like my oatmeal with a little more texture anyway so I forgo processing the oats.
- Look for oatmeal in the bulk foods section at your grocery store. It is usually a lot less expensive than the canisters. Or buy it in a large bag or bucket from your warehouse club store.