Until I few years ago, I absolutely hated oatmeal. It was fine as an ingredient in cookies or the topping in a fruit crisp, but there was no way you could get me to eat a bowl of the stuff for breakfast. It wasn’t a taste thing, but rather a texture issue. I periodically tried to eat oatmeal because I knew it was good for me, but it just wasn’t happening.
Then, in 2012, I was talking to a friend about running, and he suggested I eat oatmeal for breakfast because it will give me the sustainable energy to get through an early morning run. He then told me about these little oatmeal cups that he’d pick up at the store and keep in his locker for a quick meal on the go.
So, I figured I would be brave, and pick up a few of these little oatmeal cups at the grocery store. But that price! Ouch! Less than 3 oz of oats, dried fruit, & nuts for almost $2 (over $2 depending on the store). Well, it was an experiment to see if I even like the stuff, so I did it. And you know what – these little oatmeal cups aren’t half bad.
So I investigated the label – WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, MULTI GRAIN BLEND (WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, ROLLED BARLEY, WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED RYE), DRIED SWEETENED APPLES (APPLES, SUGAR), DRIED SWEETENED CRANBERRIES (CRANBERRIES, SUGAR), WALNUTS COATED WITH ROSEMARY EXTRACT, BROWN SUGAR, DEHYDRATED APPLES (APPLES, SUGAR, FRUCTOSE, CINNAMON, MALIC ACID, SODIUM SULFITE FOR COLOR RETENTION), WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, SALT, CINNAMON, NATURAL FLAVOR.
In the grand scheme of things, not a bad list of ingredients, most of which you can purchase separately at the market. I am always curious about “natural flavor” though. The one thing that made me curious though was the multi grain blend; this must be the reason why I wasn’t having the same texture issue with this oatmeal as I had in the past with plain oatmeal. The multi grain cooks different and doesn’t get all gummy.
Now that I realized that I liked the Apple Walnut Oatmeal, it was time to figure out how to make it cheaper, and recently I decided to finally write down the quantities that I was using in order to make these:
Since I am breasfeeding, it is so important that I eat breakfast each day or else the headache I have by 10am is ridiculous! Having these oatmeal packets on hand in the pantry not only guarantee a no thought breakfast (one I can make while sleep deprived or before having my morning cup of tea), but also is chock full of whole grains and B vitamins which do so many wonderful things for your milk supply.
Each packet contains the following (brand names are only mentioned because its what I have on hand & other brands may be of differing quality):
1/4 cup Country Choice Organic Hot Cereal – Multi Grain ($.24)
1/8 cup Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Thick Oats ($.06)
1 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Organic Flax Seed Meal ($.05)
1/8 cup dried cranberries – chopped fine ($.13)
1/8 cup chopped walnuts ($.29)
4 dried apple rings, chopped ($.44 store bought – I dry my own with apples we were given)
When I’m ready to prepare breakfast, I dump one packet into a deep sided bowl. Add 3/4 cup water and 1 rounded teaspoon of coconut oil ($.09). Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Stir and cover (I just put a plate on top). Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Add a healthy drizzle of raw honey or real maple syrup, and enjoy!
Total – $1.30 per packet without coupons or bargain shopping (I bet we could easily get that to under $1 a packet with a little extra effort) and you get a portion that is almost twice the size of the little cup that you would be buying for $1.93 each! More food, less money, and you control the quality of the ingredients – That is a HUGE WIN in my book!