Oatmeal can be a yummy, nutritious, versatile and frugal base for all sorts of breakfasts. Rolled oats are high in fiber, are whole grains, and stick nicely to the tummy as a breakfast treat.
Don't buy the instant kind - I grab the cheaper large 2 pound canisters of Old Fashioned Oatmeal - I can usually get these for around $3 each when they go on sale at the grocery and drug stores. I buy several when they are on sale and it lasts me quite a while.
This oatmeal is quick and easy to prepare, especially with a microwave. What I do is pour dry oatmeal into a Tupperware bowl (I also eat it in the Tupperware bowl - less dishes to wash that way). I don't measure - I just experiment to see how much I actually eat at a sitting and get used to eyeballing that. Then I add enough water or milk to go well over the top of the oatmeal, and pop it in the microwave for 2-4 minutes. Stir, add other ingredients, let cool a bit and eat. :)
Here are three tasty and frugal ideas to get you started with the many ways to prepare oatmeal for breakfast:
- Add raisins and spices. I wait until the 18 ounce canisters of raisins are on sale for $2.50 or $3.00 each and buy as many as I can afford. This helps me make sure I start my day with a fruit serving. I also sprinkle in cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, which are good antioxidants. Cinnamon is also reported to lower your blood sugar when eaten with carbohydrates. Wait until the drugstores have sales on their spices, or buy them in bulk from your grocery store. You can also get many spices for one dollar at the dollar stores. Keep your eyes open and stock up when you find them. Cinnamon goes quickly in my home. If you wish to add sweetener, a little bit of Splenda, sugar, honey or maple syrup goes a long way. It's like having healthy oatmeal cookies for breakfast!
- Add bananas and yogurt. After the grains are cooked, I dump a banana in my oatmeal and mash it up. I'll add vanilla and cinnamon, and then put a big old dollop of any type of flavored yogurt on top of the oatmeal/banana mixture. Bananas are not usually cheap, but since you are mashing it up anyway, you can get the somewhat cheaper 'older' bananas with brown or soft spots, and you get one serving of fruit out of the way. Yogurt adds a nice touch of dairy and is usually sweet enough that you do not need to add sugar to your oatmeal. Yogurt is a great frugal item - usually some brand or other will be on sale for ten containers for a dollar! Sometimes the deals are even better. It's best not to be brand-loyal with yogurt if you are on a budget. Except for Greek yogurt, they all pretty much taste the same anyway. This treat tastes a little like bread pudding, but is a whole lot better for you.
- Stir in cocoa powder and nuts. Unsweetened cocoa powder is an antioxidant, and can add to the depth of flavor of a bowl of oatmeal. I have found that if I add raw nuts to my oatmeal (like walnuts or almonds) and cocoa, then my breakfast tastes like brownies! The nuts provide protein and good fats, and adds a nice crunchiness to the oatmeal. A drop of maple syrup adds just enough sweetness and a lovely flavor. There are maple syrup-like sweeteners out there - even sugar-free kinds - that are cheaply bought. Nuts are usually not inexpensive unless you buy them at the bulk bins or snatch them up when on sale. Walnuts are always the least expensive of the nut options, last a long time when sealed tightly, and are very healthy for you.
Amazon has six organic oatmeal canisters here for around $3 each - Country Choice Organic Oven Toasted Old Fashioned Oats, 18-Ounce Canisters (Pack of 6)
And here is an actual oatmeal idea cookbook! - 75 Ways to Love Your Oatmeal and Other Treats, Tips & Tricks