Monica's favorite gear
for making
Instant Oatmeal Packets
Just mix with boiling water, stir, and it's ready to eat. This cooks the fastest of the rolled oat varieties.
These little seeds pack a big nutritional punch. Great in oatmeal and smoothies.
Loaded with fiber and nutrition, this is a great addition to baked goods, smoothies, and yogurt. It gives a healthy boost to these instant oat packets. (Organic)
Also available: gluten-free oat bran
This organic dried maple syrup adds great flavor to these instant oatmeal packets. Click below for more natural sweeteners.
Also available: sucanat, coconut sugar
These are 100% organic blueberries. They rehydrate instantly in the oatmeal when it's mixed with water. Click below for more freeze-dried fruits.
Get all of the flavor and protein of peanut butter with 85% less fat. It's a dry powder that's perfect for flavoring these dry instant oatmeal packets.
This adds a protein and calcium boost to the oatmeal along with a creamy texture and flavor.
This is 100% ground vanilla beans and is a great way to add vanilla flavor to a dry mix like these oatmeal packets.
This adds easy, rich flavor to the Mocha Instant Oatmeal Packet.
Also available: unsweetened cocoa powder
An easy way to add orange flavor to dry mixes. It pairs well with many other fruits, especially berries.
This candied ginger adds great flavor when it's minced and added to the Apricot Ginger Oatmeal Packet.
The small bags are the perfect size for individual oatmeal packets. The tight seal keeps the contents fresh. Use a Sharpie marker for labeling (click below)
Also available: Sharpie markers
These are the perfect serving size for storing single servings of refrigerator oatmeal in the fridge.
These are long lasting and easy to screw on and off.
This organic, unsweetened, shredded coconut is a great addition to oatmeal packets; especially good paired with pineapple.

Healthy Instant Oatmeal Packets--for hot & refrigerator oats

12 easy, make-ahead recipes for grab-and-go home, work, travel, camping, & dorm breakfasts


Healthy Instant Oatmeal Packets

By Monica              1 serving (packet)
Healthy Instant Oatmeal Packets

Make your own individual instant oatmeal packets in a variety of flavors. An easy, make-ahead, healthy on-the-go breakfast or snack for work, travel, camping, and college dorms, or those busy mornings when there's no time to make breakfast. Use packets for hot or refrigerator oatmeal.

Ingredients
  • BASIC RECIPE FOR A SINGLE SERVING PACKET:
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (instant or quick); old fashioned oats may be used for microwave and refrigerator oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds or ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons oat bran (or wheat germ/bran)
  • 2 teaspoons powdered milk (omit for non-dairy, vegan)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar, sucanat, pure maple sugar, coconut sugar, or other preferred sweetener
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • OPTIONAL ADD INS (see suggested flavor varieties in directions):
  • dried or freeze dried fruit, chopped
  • chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, macademia nuts)
  • PB2 powdered peanut butter
  • cocoa powder
  • instant coffee or espresso powder
  • sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, cloves)
  • ground vanilla beans (dry powder)
  • TO MIX A PACKET & MAKE OATMEAL:
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water (amount of water may vary depending on dryness of ingredients)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (for refrigerator oats only)

Directions
Combine basic recipe ingredients in individual zip top bags. Add additional flavor ingredients, if desired--see suggestions below.

To prepare 1 serving of hot oatmeal:
BOILING WATER METHOD (not recommended for old fashioned oats): Add 1 oatmeal packet to mug or bowl. Pour in 2/3 cups boiling water and stir. Let instant oats stand for 3-4 minutes to soften and thicken; stir, and they are ready to eat. Quick oats may need to soften an additional minute or two.
MICROWAVE METHOD: Add 1 oatmeal packet and 3/4 cup cold water to microwave safe mug or bowl. (The container needs to be large enough to allow for mixture to expand while it cooks. It can bubble up and double in size in the microwave.) For instant oats, cook uncovered on high for 1 minute; stir, and it's ready to eat. For quick oats, cook on high for 2 minutes, let stand 2 minutes, stir, and it's ready to heat. NOTE: Microwave power and cooking times can vary; adjust cooking time if necessary.

To prepare 1 serving of refrigerator oatmeal:
Add one oatmeal packet to a pint or half-pint jar (or other covered container). Pour in 1/2 cup cold water, add 1/4 cup yogurt, cover tightly, and shake vigorously until well mixed. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 3 days.

12 FLAVOR VARIATIONS (use the basic recipe ingredients, plus these additions):
1. Plain -- Use basic recipe ingredients.
2. Apple Cinnamon Maple -- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup freeze-dried chopped apples; additional 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; use maple sugar for sweetener
3. Blueberry --  2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup  freeze-dried blueberries.
4. Cherry Almond -- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 tablespoons freeze-dried cherries; 1 tablespoon sliced or slivered almonds.
5. Apricot Ginger -- 2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots; 1 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger.
6. Cranberry Orange Pecan -- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 1 teaspoon dried orange peel bits, 1 tablespoon chopped pecans.
7. Pineapple Coconut -- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup  freeze-dried chopped dried pineapple, 1 tablespoon freeze-dried coconut
8. Raspberry Vanilla Bean-- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries, 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla powder
9. Peach (or Mango)  Macademia Nut -- 2 tablespoons chopped dried peaches (or mangos), 1 tablespoon chopped macadamia nuts
10. Cocoa Banana -- 1/4 cup chopped freeze-dried bananas (dried banana chips not recommended), 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
11. Peanut Butter Banana -- 1/4 cup chopped freeze-dried bananas (dried banana chips not recommended), 1 tablespoon PB2 peanut butter powder
12. Mocha -- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder


Make-ahead convenience. These bags may be made, tightly sealed, and stored for several months, depending on the shelf life of the ingredients used. May be stored in freezer to extend their life further.

To make oatmeal packets gluten-free, use gluten-free oats and oat bran.

Nutritional data for the basic oatmeal packets  (without fruit or nuts). There is 1-1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar for the sweetener in these calculations. For one plain oatmeal packet: 160 calories, 2.8g fat, 53mg sodium, 28.6g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 7.6g sugars, 6.5g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4.


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These DIY instant oatmeal packets are so easy to assemble. Make a bunch in advance to keep on hand for those busy mornings when you don't have time to make breakfast. You can mix these oatmeal packets with hot water and enjoy a healthy hot breakfast in a jiffy. They're also great to take along to work or on trips. It's easy to make these gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.

Refrigerator oatmeal, too! If you're a fan of the oh-so-popular refrigerator oatmeal explained in my post, Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal, you can also use these pre-assembled packets to quickly mix a batch of fridge oats the night before. Simply combine a packet with yogurt and water, refrigerate overnight, and creamy cold oats are ready the next morning. Many are already enjoying the convenience of making refrigerator oatmeal a few days ahead for quick grab-and-go breakfasts. These pre-assembled packets take that convenience to a whole new level. You can make up a bunch of the packets weeks or months ahead to make it even easier to quickly throw together a few batches of fridge oats whenever you like.

Why make your own packets? Because they are so much healthier and tastier! I decided to experiment with making my own instant oat packets when I was helping King-Man prepare for a backpacking trip. He's always taken the store-bought instant oat packets for an easy breakfast on the trail. When I read the ingredient list on the packaging with all it's mystery ingredients, high sodium, and artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives, I decided to figure out how to make a healthier version at home.

instant oats

Turns out that it's easy to make your own oatmeal packets. They can be plain, unflavored oatmeal, or you can add an endless variety of fruits, nuts, and other fun flavors. I'll share 12 of my favorite combos. Every ingredient is dry and has a shelf life of at least a few months, so these packets can be made well in advance.

How my packets are healthier and better (in my humble opinion). My basic plain instant oat mix has:

  • whole grain rolled oats (so do the store-bought packets; this is the only thing mine has in common with theirs)
  • chia seeds -- these tiny seeds have big health benefits yet a neutral taste so they disappear into the mix (read more about their benefits in my Fridge Oats post)
  • oat bran -- to boost the mix with more heart-healthy fiber (read about the special health benefits of oat bran here)
  • sweetener customized to your personal preference -- I reduce the amount of sweetener considerably in mine and prefer to use a touch of a natural sweetener over the artificial stuff 
  • non-fat powdered milk -- adds protein & calcium along with creaminess to the texture and taste. In case you're wondering if it's better to use fresh whole milk....well, yes. But these are DRY instant oatmeal packets, so fresh milk isn't an option. The health concerns about oxidized cholesterol in powdered milk aren't an issue if you use the non-fat kind. source. If you prefer, you can omit the powdered milk altogether.

Substitutions? Go for it! Every ingredient is optional, except the oats. You can omit, reduce, or make substitutions for any of the other ingredients. For example,

  • substitute ground flax or hemp seed for the chia seeds
  • substitute wheat bran or wheat germ for the oat bran
  • substitute protein powder for the powdered milk
  • gluten-free option -- use gluten-free rolled oats and oat bran
  • dairy-free or vegan option -- omit the powdered milk

 

Here's how to make
Healthy Instant Oatmeal Packets in 12 flavors 

Choose from 3 kinds of rolled oats. They are all surprisingly similar in nutrients. (You can read all about the relative nutrition of different oat varieties in my Ultimate Guide to Oats.) The quick and instant oats are digested more quickly, so they don't do quite as good a job as the old fashioned oats at keeping you feeling full and stabilizing blood sugars. However, my healthy ingredient additions to the mix more than compensate, making use of quick and instant oats very healthy. Quick and instant oats are normally preferred in these oatmeal packets, because they are ready to eat simply by adding boiling water to them. Old fashioned oats, on the other hand, need to be cooked in the microwave or on the stove top; so the choice is yours as to just how "instant" you want your oatmeal packets to be.

view rolled oats on Amazon: old fashioned, quick, instant

instant oatmeal

Choose your preferred dry sweetener. Below are a few options that I think taste especially good in oatmeal: coconut sugar, sucanat (dried sugar cane juice), pure maple sugar (dried maple syrup), or brown sugar. I won't get into the nutritional benefits of one over the other, as that's a debate that could could go on for pages. My bottom line advice is to use a moderate amount of whatever sweetener you like, or omit the sweetener altogether. How much is enough is a matter of personal preference. King-Man (aka Mr. Sweet Tooth) likes a full tablespoon of brown sugar--that is so sweet that it makes me want to gag and tastes about as sweet as the store-bought packets. I like around 1 teaspoon of sweetener in my oatmeal. Maple sugar is my personal favorite.

view on Amazon: coconut sugar, sucanat, maple sugar

instant oatmeal

Here are the basic ingredients for a plain instant oatmeal packet: rolled oats, chia seeds, oat bran, powdered milk, and salt. I also add a bit of cinnamon to mine for it's flavor and health benefits.

view on Amazon: chia seeds, oat bran, instant rolled oats, nonfat dry milk

instant oatmeal

Nutritional data for the basic oatmeal packets  (without fruit or nuts). I included 1-1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar for the sweetener in these calculations. For one plain oatmeal packet: 160 calories, 2.8g fat, 53mg sodium, 28.6g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 7.6g sugars, 6.5g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4.

Add fruit, if you like. To the basic oatmeal mix, you can add any kind of fruit that you like. There are 2 categories of dried fruit that I've used in my oatmeal packets:

  • Freeze-dried fruit -- I've just recently discovered this healthy alternative to fresh fruit. It is nothing but fruit--no additives at all. It can be eaten as is for a crunchy, healthy snack. It's perfect in these oatmeal packets, because it rehydrates instantly when mixed with water. I prefer this over regular dried fruit, although it is pricier. I've found it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and on Amazon. The volume measures the same as the fresh fruit equivalent. In other words, fruit stays the same size when it is freeze-dried.
  • Dried or dehydrated fruit -- This is the more widely available option. It also works well in these oatmeal packets. However, read the packaging labels; often dried fruits have undesirable additives. When dried, this shrivels and is more dense than fresh fruit, so use less of it than fresh or freeze-dried fruit.

view on Amazon:  freeze-dried fruit,  dried/dehydrated fruit

dried fruit

Add nuts, if you like. Any favorite nut can be added to these oatmeal packets for a flavor and nutrition boost, although they're completely optional.

instant oatmeal

More dry, flavorful ingredients. Here are some of the additional flavors I added to my oatmeal packets: dehydrated coconut, PB2 (powdered peanut butter), dried orange peel, crystallized ginger, ground vanilla bean powder, unsweetened cocoa, instant espresso powder.

instant oats

How to assemble instant oatmeal packets

 1. Label the top of the bags you'll be using. That way, you can store your oatmeal packets upright in a basket or container and easily flip through them to find the flavor you want. It's much easier to label the bags while they are empty and flat. Ziploc snack size bags work great and are widely available at grocery stores. If you prefer not to use plastic, you can use any airtight container (like jars). Paper bags are not recommended, because they are porous and  will result in a drastically reduced shelf life of the ingredients.

view on Amazon: Ziploc snack bags, Sharpie markers

instant oatmeal

2. Add the basic oatmeal mixture ingredients to each bag. Once the oats are added, the bottom of the bags flatten enough for them to stand upright. So, you can line your bags up and use an assembly line method for filling them with each ingredient.

instant oatmeal

3. Add fruit, nuts, and other flavors. If you've pre-labeled the bags, this step goes much more quickly. Seal the bags tightly to keep any humidity out; this extends their shelf life.

instant oatmeal

As I use my oatmeal packets, I save my labeled bags to reuse and refill.

How to make hot oatmeal  (2 methods)

1. Hot Water Method. (works with quick or instant oats, but not with old fashioned oats). Pour an oatmeal packet into a heat tolerant mug or bowl, pour in 2/3 c. boiling water, stir, and let stand until thickened. Instant oats are ready in 2-3 minutes. Quick oats are ready in 4-5 minutes.

instant oatmeal

2. Microwave Method. (works with old fashioned, quick, or instant oats) Pour oatmeal packet into a microwave safe bowl/mug that is big enough for oatmeal to double in volume as it cooks. Add 3/4 cup cold water. Microwave on high, 3 min. for old fashioned oats, 2 min. for quick oats, 1 min. for instant oats. (microwave power and times may vary).

instant oatmeal

How to make no-cook, refrigerator oatmeal 

Works with old fashioned, quick, or instant oats. Add an oatmeal packet to a pint or half-pint jar (or other covered container). I use half-pint jars for mine. Pour in 1/2 cup cold water, add 1/4 cup yogurt, cover, and shake vigorously until well mixed. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 3 days. They thicken into a creamy mixture that is intended to be eaten cold; however, you can heat them if you prefer.

view on Amazon: half-pint mason jars, white plastic lids for jars (durable and easy to get on and off)Oats_instant24_1.jpg

12 Instant Oatmeal Packet Flavor Varieties
These are some of my favorites, but you can use the same formula to combine your own favorite ingredients. Get creative...the sky's the limit! Refer to the printable recipe at the end of this post for exact ingredient amounts.

1. Plain -- just the basic recipe with no added flavors

instant oatmeal

2. Apple Cinnamon Maple -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added chopped dried apples, more cinnamon, and used maple sugar as the sweetener.

view on Amazon: dried apples, pure maple sugar

instant oatmeal

3. Blueberry -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added freeze-dried blueberries.

view on Amazon: freeze-dried blueberries

instant oatmeal

4. Cherry Almond -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added dried cherries and sliced almonds.

view on Amazon: dried cherries, sliced almonds

instant oatmeal

5. Apricot Ginger -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added chopped dried apricots and minced crystallized ginger.

view on Amazon: dried apricots, crystallized ginger

instant oatmeal

6. Cranberry Orange Pecan -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added dried cranberries, chopped pecans, and dried orange peel.

view on Amazon: dried cranberries, pecans, dried orange peel

instant oatmeal

7. Pineapple Coconut (my favorite...YUM!) -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added freeze-dried pineapple, and dehydrated unsweetened coconut.

view on Amazon: freeze-dried pineapple, dehydrated coconut

instant oatmeal

8. Raspberry Vanilla Bean -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added freeze-dried raspberries and ground vanilla bean powder.

view on Amazon: freeze-dried raspberries, ground vanilla bean powder

instant oatmeal

9. Peach (or Mango) Macadamia Nut -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added chopped dried white peaches and chopped macadamia nuts.

view on Amazon: dried peaches, macadamia nuts

 instant oats

10. Cocoa Banana -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added chopped freeze-dried bananas and unsweetened cocoa. (NOTE: Dried banana chips are not recommended. I tried them, and they tasted awful when they were rehydrated. The freeze-dried bananas worked great and are delicious!)

view on Amazon: freeze-dried bananas, unsweetened cocoa

instant oatmeal

11. Peanut Butter Banana -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added chopped freeze-dried bananas (see my note about bananas in #10 above) and PB2 powdered peanut butter. In case you aren't familiar with PB2, it is peanut butter with most of the fat removed, but the protein and nutrition left intact. It's a dry powder that is perfect for adding flavor to these dry oatmeal mixes.

view on Amazon: freeze-dried bananas, PB2 powdered peanut butter

instant oatmeal

12. Mocha -- To the basic oatmeal mix, I added instant espresso powder and unsweetened cocoa.

view on Amazon: espresso powder, unsweetened cocoa

instant oats

So many uses! I'm loving having a supply of these packets made up for making myself either hot or refrigerator oatmeal. They have lots of convenient additional uses. You could set out a selection of these for:

  • A busy family in the morning. Everyone can choose and make their own oatmeal.
  • A workplace meeting or break room. All you need is hot water (often an option with office coffee/tea makers) or a microwave.
  • A dorm room. Send a selection of oatmeal packets to a college student for a quick, healthy breakfast before going to class.
  • A brunch buffet table. All you need is a pot of hot water and guests can mix their own oatmeal.
  • A trip. Most hotel rooms have coffee makers that heat water.

instant oatmeal

  • Camping and backpacking. King-Man gave a big thumbs up to these homemade oatmeal packets after his recent backpacking trip. He had these for breakfast every morning. Blueberry was his favorite.

instant oatmeal

This is FAST FOOD that is good for you. I'm loving it. Hope you do, too. 

instant oats

Make it a Yummy day!
Monica 

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Healthy Instant Oatmeal Packets
By Monica              Servings: 1 serving (packet)
Ingredients
  • BASIC RECIPE FOR A SINGLE SERVING PACKET:
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (instant or quick); old fashioned oats may be used for microwave and refrigerator oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds or ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons oat bran (or wheat germ/bran)
  • 2 teaspoons powdered milk (omit for non-dairy, vegan)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar, sucanat, pure maple sugar, coconut sugar, or other preferred sweetener
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • OPTIONAL ADD INS (see suggested flavor varieties in directions):
  • dried or freeze dried fruit, chopped
  • chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, macademia nuts)
  • PB2 powdered peanut butter
  • cocoa powder
  • instant coffee or espresso powder
  • sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, cloves)
  • ground vanilla beans (dry powder)
  • TO MIX A PACKET & MAKE OATMEAL:
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water (amount of water may vary depending on dryness of ingredients)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (for refrigerator oats only)
Directions
Combine basic recipe ingredients in individual zip top bags. Add additional flavor ingredients, if desired--see suggestions below.

To prepare 1 serving of hot oatmeal:
BOILING WATER METHOD (not recommended for old fashioned oats): Add 1 oatmeal packet to mug or bowl. Pour in 2/3 cups boiling water and stir. Let instant oats stand for 3-4 minutes to soften and thicken; stir, and they are ready to eat. Quick oats may need to soften an additional minute or two.
MICROWAVE METHOD: Add 1 oatmeal packet and 3/4 cup cold water to microwave safe mug or bowl. (The container needs to be large enough to allow for mixture to expand while it cooks. It can bubble up and double in size in the microwave.) For instant oats, cook uncovered on high for 1 minute; stir, and it's ready to eat. For quick oats, cook on high for 2 minutes, let stand 2 minutes, stir, and it's ready to heat. NOTE: Microwave power and cooking times can vary; adjust cooking time if necessary.

To prepare 1 serving of refrigerator oatmeal:
Add one oatmeal packet to a pint or half-pint jar (or other covered container). Pour in 1/2 cup cold water, add 1/4 cup yogurt, cover tightly, and shake vigorously until well mixed. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 3 days.

12 FLAVOR VARIATIONS (use the basic recipe ingredients, plus these additions):
1. Plain -- Use basic recipe ingredients.
2. Apple Cinnamon Maple -- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup freeze-dried chopped apples; additional 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; use maple sugar for sweetener
3. Blueberry --  2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup  freeze-dried blueberries.
4. Cherry Almond -- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 tablespoons freeze-dried cherries; 1 tablespoon sliced or slivered almonds.
5. Apricot Ginger -- 2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots; 1 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger.
6. Cranberry Orange Pecan -- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 1 teaspoon dried orange peel bits, 1 tablespoon chopped pecans.
7. Pineapple Coconut -- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup  freeze-dried chopped dried pineapple, 1 tablespoon freeze-dried coconut
8. Raspberry Vanilla Bean-- 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries, 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla powder
9. Peach (or Mango)  Macademia Nut -- 2 tablespoons chopped dried peaches (or mangos), 1 tablespoon chopped macadamia nuts
10. Cocoa Banana -- 1/4 cup chopped freeze-dried bananas (dried banana chips not recommended), 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
11. Peanut Butter Banana -- 1/4 cup chopped freeze-dried bananas (dried banana chips not recommended), 1 tablespoon PB2 peanut butter powder
12. Mocha -- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder


Make-ahead convenience. These bags may be made, tightly sealed, and stored for several months, depending on the shelf life of the ingredients used. May be stored in freezer to extend their life further.

To make oatmeal packets gluten-free, use gluten-free oats and oat bran.

Nutritional data for the basic oatmeal packets  (without fruit or nuts). There is 1-1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar for the sweetener in these calculations. For one plain oatmeal packet: 160 calories, 2.8g fat, 53mg sodium, 28.6g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 7.6g sugars, 6.5g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4.
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Posted on Sunday, July 28th, 2013








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