I eat oatmeal almost every morning. Once I get to work my regular routine is to mix up a bowl of instant oatmeal, grab a cup of coffee and have breakfast while I read through my e-mails and plan my day. I prefer to eat breakfast once I get to work instead of at home and instant oatmeal packs are a great thing to keep in my desk.
I found a recipe online for making your own instant oatmeal packs so I decided to give it a go. I don’t remember where I found it though so I’m sorry I can’t credit the creator!
Instant Oatmeal Packets
3 cups quick-cooking oats
Snack size zip baggies
Directions: Put 1 cup oats in a food processor and pulse until powdery. You can also use a blender, just blend oats in two ½ cup batches. Put the following ingredients in each baggie: ¼ cup un-powdered oats, 2 tablespoons powdered oats and 1/8 tsp salt. Store in an airtight container.
To serve, empty packet into a bowl. Add ¾ cup boiling water. Stir and let stand for 2 minutes. For thicker oatmeal, use less water, for thinner oatmeal, use more water.
Add the following to make flavored oatmeal:
Brown sugar & cinnamon – add 1 tablespoon brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon to each packet
Fruit & cream – add 1 tablespoon non-dairy coffee creamer and 2 tablespoons dried fruit to each packet
Apple cinnamon – add 1 tablespoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons chopped dried apples to each packet
I decided to make brown sugar cinnamon oatmeal packs – my favorite. I began by getting out all the ingredients and I already had everything on hand. Since this is the first time I’ve made this recipe I decided to just make a half batch so I can make sure I like them before making a ton of them. I used my Magic Bullet to process ½ cup of oats into powder. Then I assembled the packs. Into each bag went ¼ cup un-powdered oats, 2 tablespoons powdered oats, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. I left out the salt. A half recipe made 4 packs of oatmeal.
This morning I used a homemade pack of instant oatmeal for breakfast. I brought a pack to work with me and dumped it into a bowl. I used the hot water spout on the coffee maker to fill up the bowl. I let it sit while I made my cup of coffee. I stirred it up, let it sit some more and then tried it once it thickened up. It tastes different from instant oatmeal. Not bad, just different. Could be a number of things, less sugar, no salt, less additives, less processing of the oats. Overall I liked it and it cooked up fast which is important.
The Economics: I don’t have an exact calculation of the cost because I had all the ingredients on hand. I think a big container of oats costs approximately $2-3. It contains approximately 15 cups. That makes the cost per cup $0.13 – $0.20. To be conservative we’ll use the high estimate so the cost of the oats used in this recipe is $0.30. The recipe made 4 servings, so the cost per serving is $0.08. I did not account for the cost of the additional ingredients as that will vary depending on which recipe you choose. There’s also the cost of the bag to consider. A snack size bag probably costs a few cents, but again I don’t know exactly because I already had these at home.
How does this compare to store bought? In my area you can catch generic brand instant oatmeal for $1.50 for 10 packs or $0.15 each on sale. Regular price generic is closer to $2.00 for a box of 10 packs. Name brand instant oatmeal is around $3.00 for a box of 10 packs. The result is homemade is cheaper.
So is it worth it? I had never made instant oatmeal packs before but these worked out pretty good! Assembling the packs took only 10 minutes from start to finish including cleaning up my mess. In the future I will make bigger batches at a time. I also regularly have all of these ingredients on hand so I don’t have to go buy any special ingredients just to make this recipe. A big container of oats is great to have on hand as oats are useful in many recipes like granola.
In the future I may try to find a way to make these in reusable containers so that I can eliminate the cost of the bag and eliminate the excess waste from throwing away a bag after only one use. An alternative option would be to mix up a big container of instant oatmeal and then just scoop out the amount you need each time you make a bowl.
If you eat instant oatmeal regularly like I do, I think these are worth making. If instant oatmeal is not for you then you should probably pass.