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05/13/2015 by Brian Eagen Click to Tweet

Homemade Oatmeal Packets


Oatmeal is one of the classic breakfast foods on any camping trip. It's simple -- just grab a bunch of those Quaker Instant Oatmeal packets, add boiling water, and eat. This is the quickest hot breakfast you can come by which makes it a great option for cold mornings.

However, there are three big drawbacks that go along with store-bought instant oatmeal -- they are packed with tons of unhealthy sugars, there is a very definite amount of oatmeal I can eat before feeling sick to my stomach, and I get hungry very soon after eating them.

Making your own homemade oatmeal packets helps to solve all of these drawbacks while also allowing you to expand your daily variety of food. You can get all these benefits for the exact same price you would spend on the store bought varieties.

Here's how it's done:

Establish a Base

oatmeal base

The base of these oatmeal packets is created from eight ingredients. These ingredients are customizable for your own unique food preferences and appetite. Here is the base I use:

1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
Notes: I prefer old fashioned oats over instant oats because they have a lower glycemic index (55) which means they offer more sustained energy (1). The extra 5 minutes it takes for them to cook is negligible in my opinion.
2 tsp Oat Bran
Notes: Offers an extra boost of protein, fiber, and irons (2).
2 tsp Maple Sugar
Notes: You can use any type of sweetener. Brown sugar and stevia are other good options.
1 tsp Chia Seeds
Notes: These tiny seeds are one of the most nutritious foods in the world. They are super easy to slip into almost any dish and come packed with protein, healthy fats, and vitamins.
1 tsp Ground Flax Seeds
Notes: Another great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. I received a comment that whole flax seed isn't easily digested by our bodies, which is why the ground version is recommended (Thanks devrandom!)
2 tsp Dehydrated Milk
Notes: This helps to give the oatmeal a creamy texture and rounds out the flavors.
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
Notes: A great way to punch up the flavor of the oatmeal base along with countless healthy benefits.
1 Pinch Sea Salt

Customize with Healthy Additives

Now's the fun part! While you can eat the oatmeal base on its own (which is pretty good), it is even better with some additives included. A mix of dry fruit, nuts, sweetener, and nutritional powders can create an almost endless variety of flavors to your oatmeal breakfasts. Purchase dried fruits that contain no added sugars or chemicals, or dehydrate your own for even better flavor.

Here are nine of my favorite combinations:

healthy additives

Putting Everything Together

I like to make big batches of oatmeal packets at the same time. Using an assembly line process I can whip up 20 packets in a half hour. Snack-sized ziplock bags are the perfect size for one serving. Label the top of the bag with a sharpie so you can quickly decide which one you want to eat when you're in the field. Bring the ziplocks home and reuse them for the next trip to save waste and minimize your impacts. While you're at it, create some oatmeal packets for meals at home. It's just as good!

oatmeal packets

Field Preparation

Dump your oatmeal packet into a bowl and add 1 cup of boiling water -- let it sit for 5 minutes. While you could add the water directly to the ziplock and save yourself a tiny bit of cleanup, I prefer to use my bowl and minimize waste and extra pack weight. After 5 minutes, give everything a good stir and eat up! Easy as that.

oatmeal preparation

Packet Size and Serving Size

I usually eat two Quaker Instant Oatmeal packets as a serving in the field, so I designed this recipe to be equivalent to that amount. In other words: two Quaker packets are about the same size as one of my homemade oatmeal ziplock packets.

oatmeal packet size comparision

Nutrition Information

Here's the nutrition breakdown comparison of my apples + cinnamon oatmeal packet versus two Quaker Instant Oatmeal packets.

Calories Fat Protein Sugar
Old Fashioned Oats 150 3g 5g 1g
Maple Sugar 12 0 0 4g
Chia Seeds 18 1g 0.5g 0
Ground Flax Seeds 10 0.5g 0.5g 0
Oat Bran 19 0 1g 0
Dehydrated Milk 5 0 0.5g 1g
Cinnamon 1 0 0 0
Sea Salt 0 0 0 0
Total 215 4.5g 7.5g 6g
+ Apple Cinnamon
Apples (1/8 cup) 15 0 0 3g
Cinnamon (1/4 tsp) 2 0 0 0
Total 232 4.5g 7.5g 9g
Quaker Instant Packets (2) 360 4g 8g 24g

As you can see the homemade version has a LOT less sugar. There are also more healthy fats and proteins per calorie than the Quaker variety. If you are a big eater, you can easily increase the recipe by 50% to get more calories.

What About Cost?

One of the best things about the homemade oatmeal packets is that you can make them for the same price as purchasing store varieties. Here's the breakdown for the apples + cinnamon packets:

$0.13 Old Fashioned Oats
$0.14 Maple Sugar
$0.05 Chia Seeds
$0.04 Ground Flax Seeds
$0.02 Oat Bran
$0.02 Cinnamon
$0.07 Dehydrated Milk
$0.00 Sea Salt
$0.02 Snack Size Ziplock Bag
$0.49 Total - Homemade Apple & Cinnamon Oatmeal Packet
$0.50 Quaker Apple & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal Packet

Technically, the homemade versions are cheaper! How great is that? (I will point out that the Apple + Cinnamon is one of the cheaper packet varieties. Dried fruits such as blueberries and cherries with cost more per serving, as will nuts such as pecans and hazelnuts.)

Wrap Up

If you are looking for a great, healthy hot breakfast option for your next camping or backpacking trip, I would highly recommend trying out these homemade oatmeal packets. They are a delicious way to start your mornings. Let me know what you think!

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