Instant Oatmeal: A Less-Waste, Frugal, Homemade Alternative

Instant Oatmeal: A Less-Waste, Frugal, Homemade Alternative

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At least one person in our house eats oatmeal every single day. We love it! Sometimes it’s eaten for breakfast and sometimes it’s eaten as a quick, yummy snack.

But have you noticed the price of boxed instant oatmeal these days?

Wow! $3.99 for a box of 8 packets of organic instant oatmeal! We easily could go through 4-5 packets a day if I were to keep the pantry stocked with it. And that adds up to a lot of money for oatmeal. Not to mention all the waste coming from that one box!

I knew I had to come up with a solution! So this is what I did…

Instant Oatmeal Alternative

Instant Oatmeal: A Less-Waste, Frugal, Homemade AlternativePin It
Gather the ingredients:

  • 6 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1 cup dry milk powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instant Oatmeal: A Less-Waste, Frugal, Homemade Alternative
1) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Instant Oatmeal: A Less-Waste, Frugal, Homemade Alternative
2) Mix well.

Instant Oatmeal: A Less-Waste, Frugal, Homemade Alternative
3) Store in a large container. Label and date. Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months (it never lasts that long at our house, but good to know anyways).

Directions for use: Shake the container to mix ingredients. In a small pot, heat 2/3 cup water to boiling. Add 1/3 cup oatmeal mix. Note: There is approx. 1/3 cup of oatmeal in a packet of instant oatmeal. You may prefer to increase this amount based on the size of servings needed. Reduce heat and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached, stir frequently.

Instant Oatmeal: A Less-Waste, Frugal, Homemade Alternative

Optional add-ins: My children love the maple syrup and brown sugar variety. This mix, as a base, works wonderfully for that. Once placed in a serving bowl, I top the oatmeal with maple syrup and they are good to go! However, here are a few of the other add-ins that we use when the mood strikes:

  • Diced dried apples, raisins, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, or cherries (It usually depends on what I have on-hand from the season. Get creative!)
  • Chopped nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax


-Buy in bulk. It will save you tons more! I get a 25 lb. bag of organic rolled oats for $30, making the cost of oats for this recipe $1.50.

-You could use instant oats here, instead of the rolled oats, to reduce the cooking time. If choosing to use instant oats you will need to decrease the amount of water used in the recipe (i.e. 1/3 oatmeal mix, 1/3 cup water).

-This recipe can be cooked in the microwave. If you are using rolled oats, cook on high for 4 minutes. If you are using instant oats, cook on high for 2 minutes.

-Many recipes advise to pulse the oatmeal in a food processor in order to create a quicker cooking oatmeal. Honestly, by the time I prepare the food processor, pulse the oats, and clean up the mess, I could have easily spent the extra 3-4 minutes cooking the oatmeal. That’s just my humbled opinion.

-I’ve also seen recipes that place individual servings in plastic bags. Good for those who want to use this to take on-the-go. You still run in to the waste issue (unless you reuse the baggies) and the additional cost of using all those baggies. We’re trying to reduce our waste and simplify, so the method of keeping it all in a large container works best for me!

What’s your money-saving tip for today? Go ahead…share it!

See this post and a host of others like it here: SNS 110, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Savvy Homemade Monday, Cure for the Common Monday, More the Merrier, Mad Skills, Made By You Monday, Make Something Mondays, New Nostalgia, Tip Me Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, Terrific Under $10, Raising Homemakers, Wicked Awesome Wednesday,Your Green Resource, It’s A Keeper, Creative Juice Thursday, Friday Favorites, Foodie Friday, Inspire Me Friday


  1. Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker says:

    Great post! Sounds easy enough! Do you know of any dairy-free alternatives?

  2. This is an excellent idea! I like the idea of having everything already in the mix, ready to cook. I would like to add, though, be cautious of consuming that much cinnamon on a regular basis, unless it is Ceylon (True) cinnamon. Ordinary (most common)cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin and, consumed on a regular basis can cause liver, kidney, and other damages to your body.
    I am really enjoying reading your blog. Am I seeing this right? Did you really just start this in September of this year? Congratulations on such a great blog so fast!

  3. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    Hi @Erin! Great question! I'd just go without adding the dry milk powder.

  4. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    @Anna I never knew that about cinnamon! Wow! I guess I need to read up on that!

    And thank you for the sweet comments on the blog:) Frugally Sustainable will be 3 months old come Dec. 11…pretty crazy huh? I guess when you live your passions anything is possible:) Thank you for your support!

  5. Country Girl in the City says:

    This is a great idea and one that I would like to use as soon as possible. I have been eating a lot of instant oatmeal lately because it keeps me feeling full and satisfied throughout the day. Thanks for posting.


  6. We are thinking alike today Andrea. I just published a post about oatmeal too.

  7. Stacy Makes Cents says:

    Great post! Totally pinning this for later. ๐Ÿ™‚ Annie eats a lot of oatmeal. While we prefer the Baked Oatmeal variety, I do like to keep this on hand for a quick breakfast. Thanks!

  8. I've been meaning to do this. Thanks for the recipe!!

  9. Can you microwave this oatmeal instead of cooking it on the stove top? Found you via Pinterest! Thanks!

  10. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    @Emily Thank you for stopping by:) And yes you can microwave it (I meant to put that infor in the post! I'll add it now). Cook it on high for 4 minutes then let it sit for a bit. If you are using the instant oats the cooking time will be 2 minutes. Thank you for asking.

  11. says:

    New follower from linky party. I love preparing the oatmeal in a big container. And, I love the extra spices. FOllowing from


  12. Love the recipe!I've seen a few boring/bland ones and this one has me excited to give it another try! THanks!

  13. If you use quick-cooking oats, you can cook them right in your bowl just by adding boiling water and stirring! Saves you from washing a pot. This works for farina (cream of wheat) too. Here's the "recipe" for my favorite oatmeal.

    Erin, if you really want the creamy flavor/texture, there is a powdered instant soymilk called Better Than Milk sold at many health food stores. My local store has it in a bulk bin, so you can buy any amount in the container of your choice. I think it tastes better than powdered cow's milk.

  14. Junky Vagabond says:

    I always thought I could do this, but usually just add everything after it's cooked. This is fabulous – thanks for putting it all in an easy to use post!

  15. I just add pecans and dried cranberries to ours…… sometimes a teaspoon of peanut butter after it comes out of the microwave and a little local honey. THAT IS MY FAVORITE.
    I portion out the mix in seperate tubs…. one stays home, one goes to work with my hubby and the other with me. We have bowls and spoons at work. Seriously stopping to get breakfast is a complete money waster.
    Loving your blog!!!

  16. Found this through Pinterest and my boys absolutely love it! Thank you!!

  17. I found this on Pinterest and I’m so glad I did! My 4 year-old has been having oatmeal for breakfast lately, and those boxes of instant oatmeal add up fast! We put this together this morning and I think I liked it more than she did! I did add a little white sugar as well, just because I like my oatmeal sweet, and we added dried blueberries and strawberries before popping it in the microwave (I used instant oats). Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Hubby loves instant oatmeal! I can order the 25# organic rolled oats through my local food co-op for under $20. Already have all the other ingredients on hand. Will definitely order the oats with my next buyers club order and make this! Thanks.

    • It’s so yummy Polly! We are actually down to our last little bit…we all just love this recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. I noticed that your oats are not soaked. The phytates in the oats make it hard for the body to digest. Even if oats are good for you they will not be easily digested if they are not soaked.

  20. Bridgette Taylor says:

    Is there a vegan alternative for the dry milk powder?

  21. My 11 year old eats THREE packets of oatmeal every morning. This is going to save me a fortune! Thank you!!

  22. Yesterday on Dr. Oz he said to eat oatmeal to aid in sleep. I decided to try it. Now with your post I will be able to save money and hopefully sleep better.

  23. Kristen says:

    I was looking this over today and it is such a wonderful idea! I do have a couple questions though. It would take us a bit longer than 6 months to get through a 6 gallon bucket. The advice on this particular site says that it is good for only a year after opening. Would it still be good if I take out half and toss an ox absorber in the bucket? will that make it “keep” longer than a year? And if i make up packets of oatmeal like in your recipe, (or our family sized jar/bag) should i put absorbers in those too, in able to keep them past 6 months?

    thanks so much for all your information!!!

  24. I just made this recipe, and it was good. Not quite as sweet as I like, so I added chocolate chips (I’m a bad girl). But… I microwaved it. I don’t recommend it. Mine bubbled, boiled, and made a mess of my microwave as it spilled over the edges of my bowl. ๐Ÿ™

  25. How would you make this dairy free?

  26. Awesome idea Andrea! Love, LOVE your blog. Will share on my Facebook pages…keep meaning to make my own instant oatmeal, my hubby works early & he likes instant oatmeal, he doesn’t get it much because it really gets expensive & I refuse to buy individual packages when it’s so easy to make. Thanks for motivating me to make my own & for doing the research & sharing!

  27. i saw a cool oatmeal hack where they used small Mason jars and then you pour the mix and boiling water into the jar, screw on the lid, let the oatmeal sit for 20 minutes and it’s done. For me, I eat oatmeal at work, so it’d be perfect to make up the jar before work and let it cook in the car. Also, more sustainable than the baggies.

  28. would this work with steel cut oats as well?

  29. Love this recipe! Delicious, adaptable, convenient, and frugal! I am one who prefers to use individual packets. One way to do this is ziploc baggies, as mentioned. Since they aren’t subject to much wear and tear, and since they hold only dry product, they can be safely reused indefinitely. Another way is to use (and reuse) small heat-safe jars, in which to mix, store, microwave, and serve the oatmeal, all in one container. The reason I prefer to mix and store these individually is that , in bulk, ingredients do settle out. It’s impossible to get precisely the same mix each time you scoop, and too little or too much salt, sugar, etc. really can make a difference. It’s easy to assembly-line ingredients into each individual bag or jar. Just my two cents’. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for this recipe!

  30. Thank you! Sharing on my fb page!

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