Sunday, November 11, 2012

Warm & Comforting Old Fashioned Oatmeal

I can’t think of a better time of the year than the fall & winter to have oatmeal for breakfast.  There is nothing like having your hands wrapped around a warm bowl of oatmeal on a chilly morning, with the aromas of oats, cinnamon and fruit tickling your nose and face.  I like to think of oatmeal as comfort food for breakfast, and I prefer to have thick oatmeal that will stick to your ribs and keep your tummy full!  My Hunnee (husband) eats oatmeal year around, and so I always felt good about buying him those oatmeal packets with all the different flavors and brands to choose from!  I too was eating oatmeal regularly (the extra fiber brand) but got tired of the rolled oats & dust in the packets (I’m an Old Fashioned Whole Oats girl) and also the growling of my tummy only a short time later.  It then came to me, why wasn’t I making homemade oatmeal every day?  The first and probably only reason was because of the inconvenience and time to get it ready; after all my husband and I both work and our mornings are very busy.  So I thought about creating single serving bags similar to Quaker, but, including what we enjoy and also controlling the amount of sugar.  Here is my basic oatmeal packet recipe: 
Basic Oatmeal:
¼ cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon crushed oatmeal
½ tsp or so of sugar (I prefer brown sugar)
Sprinkle of cinnamon

I used 1--42 oz container of Old Fashioned Oats and made 40 bags of oatmeal.  To make the crushed oatmeal, I take approximately 2 cups of oats and put them in my vita mix and grind them up—this helps to thicken my oatmeal and give it more substance.  I measure all the ingredients and put them in the snack size Ziploc bags and store them in the oats container.  I also have an extra oats container that we toss the used bags in so that we can reuse them.  
I put approximately 2/3 cup of milk in a small sauce pan (Hunnee just uses water) and warm it up on low for just a couple seconds before dumping in a bag of oatmeal.  Cooking the oatmeal on the stove takes probably 2 minutes from start to finish; it cooks up fast, so you will want to watch it so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.  If you prefer a more runny oatmeal, then add more milk, I prefer mine a bit thicker, so the 2/3 cup works perfect for me. 
Like I mentioned, this is a basic recipe—just like you would get from a store bought packet---but there are so many ways that you can have fun with your oatmeal.  I am trying to lower my cholesterol, so I have started adding flax seed, ground flax seed and wheat bran.  I also like to use various types of fruit such as peaches, bananas or blueberries.  Still other variations include nuts, pumpkin spice and a little squirt of some local honey…YUM! 
Like many of you, I am trying to find ways to conserve money in this tough economy, so I did the math to figure out if there was any savings at all.  To make the basic oatmeal including the bags, it cost me .15¢ per bag.  Quaker figured out to be .25¢ a bag, and the local store brand cost .17¢ a bag.  Because this is my second time around making this oatmeal, I am reusing the bags, so this batch cost me 13¢ per bag.  I also just learned on the Homesteading Barn Hop that I can make my own brown sugar, so I will try that out next time which will also cut down on the cost of purchasing brown sugar.  I know this isn’t a huge savings when you compare to the store brands, but it is still a savings, and your kids can help you make these.  I also have to consider that I am controlling the amount of sugar that is going into these bags as well knowing exactly what was put into these bags, not to mention our tummies are staying fulling longer.  As I mentioned in my last post, there is a satisfaction that comes when you are preparing for your family that is so difficut to explain, and for most, it is only understood when it is experienced.    
Do you have a favorite homemade oatmeal recipe or concoction?  I would love to hear from you!  

Homestead Barn Hop