Oatmeal has been popular since its introduction to the masses in the late 1800’s. In the early 1900’s the first oatmeal cookie debuted, but at that time it was known as an Oat Cake. In 1922 quick oats hit the market which was a blessing for those who found that standing over a pot of traditional oats on the stove to be a bit time consuming. In the mid 1960’s instant oatmeal in their individual packets was introduced, but it wasn’t until 1970 that breakfast rituals hit an all time high with the appearance of flavored instant oatmeal. The quick, flavored breakfast staple was a success and remains just as popular today.
Like many people my age, I was introduced to regular oatmeal, although instant and flavored oatmeal was in its infancy in the marketplace, my parents stuck with what they knew. They would make us kids regular, stove top, cooked oatmeal. I remember many mornings sitting and playing with my breakfast until it was cold and inedible. For me, the taste and the consistency bared a striking resemblance to wall paper paste and as you can imagine, not one of my favorites. It wasn’t until I was about four that my mind would be changed on this breakfast food forever.
It was a cold bitter morning in Middle Village, New York and my mom and I had just returned from walking my brother to school which was located approximately four or so blocks away. I hadn’t eaten breakfast before the trip that morning and was whining about how hungry I was the whole walk home. Once we got home, my mom put on the tea kettle to boil some water while I struggled to get my layers of winter garb off. She called me to the kitchen and waiting for me on the table was my least favorite breakfast….a bowl of oatmeal, however, as I sat there, I instantly noticed that this did not look or smell like the same bowl of paste like breakfast I was used to eating. I was enticed by a wonderful aroma of apples and cinnamon, and this bowl of hot oatmeal looked so creamy not lumpy and unappealing. Immediately my mouth started to water. I picked up my spoon and dove in! Since that morning, I have been hooked on flavored oatmeal. Now that’s not to say that I have eaten oatmeal for the majority of my breakfasts since then, but it has remained in my breakfast rotation for many, many years.
What is great about oatmeal, aside from the fact that it has its health benefits, is that is one of those “stick to your ribs” meals, so you don’t need to eat a lot of it to be satiated. It is also inexpensive, easy to make, versatile and has a pretty long shelf life. Now being a thrifty person, I have done the cost analysis and breakdown of store bought instant oatmeal vs. homemade instant oatmeal. The truth is the cost of most store brand boxed instant oatmeal per ounce is only really a penny or so more expensive than making it homemade, but let me re-emphasize that it is only if you are buying the cheapest store brand.
Personally, I like making my own mix for instant oatmeal at home and having several mix-INS on hand to change up the flavor, so that I potentially have enough variety to have a different flavor for every morning of the week. I am fortunate enough to live within a 7 mile radius of a Whole Foods, Sprouts and Winco all of which have bulk food departments, Winco being the least expensive of the three. When I package up my servings I measure out ½ cup of my instant oatmeal mix into snack sized bags, this is slightly more than the 1/3 cup portion that you receive from the store bought boxed packages.
Currently the items I have on hand for mix-ins are as follows:
Peanut butter powder
Chopped pecans and chopped walnuts
Honey and bananas
Jam or jelly
While currently I am enjoying a mix of dried blueberries and chopped pecans in my instant oatmeal, I have to admit, that to this day my all time favorite has been and will always be, apple and cinnamon, bringing me back to that flavor epiphany I had as a child.
Here is the bulk recipe I use for instant oatmeal I hope that you and your family enjoy it just as much as my family and I have.
- 5 cups quick cooking oats
- 1/2 cup powdered milk
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and either pour into a large container to store or package into snack size bags in 1/2 cup servings.
- Mix 1/2 cup oatmeal mixture with hot water.
- Enjoy as is or stir in any mix-INS of your choice.
- Dried fruit
- Fresh fruit
- Powdered or regular peanut butter
- Chopped nuts
- dried apple and cinnamon
- Chocolate chips
- Jam or jelly