Let’s talk about oatmeal

That’s everyone’s favorite topic, isn’t it?


OK, fine, you don’t have to read it, but I am bound and determined to write about oatmeal this morning.

We were never a hot-breakfast family when I was growing up. My dad left for work really early — until high school, when I started having to leave early too (I had an hour commute by public transportation) I rarely saw him in the morning. He would get up and drink coffee, and I know he sometimes made himself scrambled eggs because I do remember a few mornings when I was really little when I’d happen to be awake and I’d sit on his lap in my pajamas and get a bite 🙂 But my mom and brother and me would eat cereal, basically. In high school I sometimes did that, but I’d also get Pop Tarts onto the grocery list and often grab one on my way out the door to eat cold while I walked to the train (seriously. Seriously. My life skills needed improving, let’s just say.) Even on the weekends, we’d have pancakes maybe three times a year or something, but mostly it was cereal.

In college I rarely ate breakfast, and when I did make it to the dining hall it was, again, usually cereal, sometimes a bagel. Same thing after college: cereal at home, or I’d buy a bagel or a donut on my way into work. In my mid-20s I decided it was time to lose some weight, and I saw a nutritionist who told me that I wasn’t eating *enough* — my body was in some kind of mild starvation mode so it was hanging onto everything. We made a plan, and for a year or so I was making a shake that involved soy milk and fruit and drinking that first thing, then an hour or so later I’d have some toast.

I don’t know how I got onto the oatmeal thing. Sometime in the last few years, I realized that except in hot weather, I just prefer hot meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — whenever possible. Sometimes that just means toast, but I really like oatmeal, which I make with dried fruit (raisins or cranberries, usually, sometimes blueberries if I can afford them), nuts (pecans or walnuts), and brown sugar.

The problem with oatmeal is (I always thought it meant) morning cooking. It doesn’t take forever — I used to use the 5-minute rolled oats — but for even more boring complicated reasons I often prefer to wait to eat breakfast until I’m actually at the office, and blah blah blah, long story, even though I wanted to eat more oatmeal I was having trouble fitting into my schedule.

Then I discovered steel-cut oats. (The link sends you to some representative ones on amazon, but whatever, you can buy them at the grocery store and it doesn’t really matter what brand, they’re all pretty much the same. Avoid McCann’s, the ones that come in the pretty canister: they’re super expensive. Last year, there was someone who sold wholesale sacks of them at the farmer’s market, 3 lbs for about $3, and I’d buy a bag every six weeks or so.)

OK, steel-cut oats are magic if you are me, because (a) they are more filling than rolled oats and (b) you can reheat them in the microwave for up to a week and they still taste good. This discovery absolutely blew my mind, because it means that I can make a pot on Sunday night and stick it in the fridge. Then all I have to do is pack some up in the morning, stick them in my bag, and when I get to work I throw them in the microwave for however long and I can eat a delicious, filling, hot breakfast that gets me through pretty much the entire morning (I usually still get hungry around 11 or 11:30, at which point I either stop and have an early lunch, or have a snack, depending on what I’ve packed.)

Did you see the part above where at some farmer’s markets you can get six weeks’ worth for $3?

OK, breakfast does cost me more than that, because I believe in making oatmeal a little more exciting with fruit, nuts, and sweetener (brown sugar or maple syrup or whatever), but still.

Oatmeal — by which I mean made-ahead steel-cut oats — is magic.

6 thoughts on “Let’s talk about oatmeal

  1. I am an oatmeal gal as well. I just throw mine in the microwave with enough water, make it nice a gloopy (the thicker the better) and then I add a serving of yogurt, some chia seeds, and fruit. Voila – I just hit all the major food components in one bowl 🙂

    1. Once you find the way you like to make it, it’s basically perfect 🙂

  2. Cindy Worth says:

    I always loved oatmeal, and tried about a year ago to be an “oatmeal for breakfast” girl. Hot oatmeal, overnight oatmeal, plain oatmeal; It all sounded good to me! But for some reason, my belly said not so much. I tried rolled oats, steel cut oats, certified gluten free oats. It didn’t seem to matter, my stomach still revolted. And Greek yogurt. Bad. Apparently my stomach just isn’t on board with the healthy eating thing! Which is too bad, since oats are definitely a frugal and healthy meal!

    1. that is too bad! But there are always some things we just cannot handle. Especially as we age 🙂 (God, what will it be like to be reallly old?)

  3. CheapMom says:

    I don’t usually eat oatmeal for breakfast in the summer, but now that’s it’s getting colder I’m getting back on the oatmeal bandwagon. I’m another rolled oats in the microwave with water/milk some cinnamon and raisins. Mmmm.

    1. It’s so good in the winter! Sticks to your ribs.

Comments are closed.