Anne Radcliffe: Dinner - It's Not Rocket Science


Ditch the Box: Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal Packs

Sugar in those tiny packs nears "Rocket Fuel" levels

My husband is one of those people who like to eat goo. I say goo, because we're both oatmeal eaters, but he likes the instant stuff. I, on the other hand, with my gag reflex that makes drinking a smoothie virtually impossible, prefer the good chunkiness of steel-cut oats. 

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I would argue about who's right and wrong here, because what's a happy marriage without a little friendly rivalry? But it's National Oatmeal Month (who knew?) and it's important to celebrate diversity - even in breakfast foods.

Also, I have lots of rolled oats. 

You see, once upon a time, I discovered a local farm that grew and processed their own oats, rendering them about as organic and gluten-free as one could only wish, at this incredible, ridiculous price of about 60 cents a pound. Organic, gluten-free oats cost about $2-3/lb out of the bulk bin, so I was like, "GIVE ME NOW." 

"Okay," said the farmer person. "But you have to buy a whole sack 'cause we don't sell anything smaller."

No problem, thought I. I buy bread flour by the 10kg sack. We like oats. I can make granola, and cookies, muffins, bread, oat flour, cereal, and oatmeal. There's LOTS of goodness to be made from rolled oats. And excess can be stored in the freezer. Piece o' cake. I proceeded to congratulate myself on being a frugal, bulk-buying GODDESS.

homemade instant oatmeal mix

When the farmer returned with a 50 pound sack of oats across her shoulders, I realized I had made a grievous error when I failed to inquire about the size of their sacks, because a 50 pound bag of oats stands a little over three feet tall.

That's when I realized I was in deep doo-doo, but by then I felt like changing my mind about it would have been kind of a jerk thing to do. When a female farm hand who's only your size is holding a 50 pound bag on her shoulders, and she asks you if you want her to put it in your car, you say "yes ma'am!" and pretend very hard that you meant to buy 50 pounds of oats. You know, just so you don't look like a total dope. 

Then you blog about it, because this stuff is comedic gold.

So I let my husband have his goo, and I make his instant oatmeal. Even before I had some 20-odd pounds of organic, gluten-free oats in my freezer, I preferred to make the packets myself, and the reason why is a whole 'nother tale: once upon a time, I used to buy Costco-sized -flavour boxes. This trend continued until I found one of these boxes COMPLETELY STUFFED with 85 packets of the plain oatmeal packets from former boxes.

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Hubs had hidden it in the back of my pantry, you see, because he felt like adding sugar and cinnamon was beyond his technical capabilities. 85 packets of plain oatmeal later, he has the correct, happy-making seasoning ratio.

Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Oatmeal
(Per serving):

  • 1/3 rounded cup of rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp (not packed, not heaping) brown or coconut sugar
  • a few grains of salt

 Mix and store. 

 You can do as I do: I make instant oatmeal using 2 cups of oats at a time, and store it in a Tupperware tub with a 1/3c measuring cup (an instant oatmeal package is about 1/3-1/2 cup dried oats per serving). Alternately, stash them in individual Ziploc bags. You can reuse the bags as long as you keep them dry.

To make oatmeal:

 Use 1/3c rounded dried mix in a bowl. Add scant 2/3 cup water or milk. Microwave for 90 seconds and stir.

 If your family is full of big eaters, use 1/2 cup dry mix and scant 1 cup water or milk.

Optional variations:

Apple-Cinnamon: Add 2 rings of crumbled dehydrated apple per serving
Raisin: Add 2 Tbsp raisins; use only 2tsp sugar
Maple Syrup & Brown Sugar: 1tsp brown sugar only; drizzle a little 100% maple syrup after preparing oatmeal.
Pumpkin Spice: use 1/4 rounded tsp of pumpkin spice mix instead of cinnamon.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, a gallon-size heavy-duty Freezer Ziploc bag holds just about 3.5 pounds of rolled oats on the nose. I know this, because a year after the oat-buying incident, I still have six bags in my chest freezer.

It's still good.