Want healthy meals your kids will love?

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets


I used to think that oatmeal was an ‘old people’ breakfast.  I wonder if it is because the guy on the Quaker Oats can has white hair?  As a kid you have a lot of time to sit and stare at the cereal box, or oatmeal can in my case……Deep thoughts.  Anyway, my view on oatmeal quickly changed when I got married and had to make a quick breakfast for 2 people on a budget with a busy schedule.  There was no time or money for anything very fancy at all.  Enter oatmeal.  I am pretty sure I ate instant oatmeal everyday for several years…….until our budget,  or time in the morning expanded.  Which 3 kids later I am not sure if either of those elements have really increased all that much 🙂  Oatmeal is really one of the greatest breakfasts invented.  It is healthy, filling, versatile, inexpensive, and fast!  But the instant oatmeal packets are typically full of sugar, other additives and really don’t have the best flavor.  I prefer old fashioned rolled oats versus the instant rolled oats and the packets you can buy are instant.  They cook fast, but to me the texture is too mushy.  And the cook time between the two versions is a couple of minutes, so no big deal.

I am a lover of bulk cooking and then having quick meals to pull out when you need them.  Making your own instant oatmeal packets is essentially that.  You can make a whole bunch at once, and then have them handy for a quick and healthy breakfast when you want them.  And they are completely customizable.  Have a picky eater?  No problem!  Let them decide exactly what goes into their oatmeal packets and then you are both happy campers.  Literally……you can take these camping.  All of the ingredients we use have a shelf-life of at least 3 months and so once you make them, you can store them for a bit.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Once you have your ingredients assembled, these literally take a few minutes to put together.  This is the basic recipe:

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

All of the ingredients beside the oats are optional.  The chia seeds add a boost of nutrition and essentially no flavor and so why not add them?   The powdered milk adds protein, and makes your oatmeal more creamy.  The salt is just a flavor enhancer.   And oats are naturally gluten free!  Just make sure you buy a brand that is pure and stated gluten free.

Here is a quick lesson about the different type of oats (you can use any type, it will just change the flavor and cooking time):

Oat Type

                  Information Cooking Instructions

Whole Oat Groats

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
 The whole oat kernel with the inedible hull removed.  These have a chewier texture and nuttier flavor than other types of oats.Cooking Time: 1 hour on the stove.Combine 1 Packet of oatmeal (1/3 cup) with 1 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 60 minutes.

Steel Cut Oats

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
 These are groats cut into pieces using sharp metal blades. They have a more similar texture and flavor to groats than rolled oats.Cooking Time: 20 minutes on the stove.Combine 1 Packet of oatmeal (1/3 cup) with 1 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 20 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats 

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

  Made by steaming oat groats so they’re softened and then rolled into flakes.  The steaming partially cooks them, and the flattening decreases cooking time.  The final result is a chewier oatmeal than instant, but less cooking time than whole groats and steel cut………and my personal favorite.Cooking Time: 10 minutes on the stove and 3-5 minutes in the microwave.Combine 1 Packet of oatmeal (1/3 cup) with 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 10 minutes.  Or, combined packets with water, and heat in microwave for 3-5 min.

Instant Rolled Oats

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
 These go through the same process of steaming and rolling as the old fashioned oats, but they are rolled thinner and steamed longer than old fashioned oats.  Then they are dehydrated. This makes them creamier and less chewy texture and they cook much faster.Cooking Time: Rehydrate Add boiling water, stir, and they are ready to eat.  Combine 1 Packet of oatmeal (1/3 cup) with 1/2 cup boiling water.  Or combine water with oat packet and microwave for 1-2 minutes.

 To create your packets:

1) Label your bags.  I used sticker labels and snack size ziploc baggies.  You can use regular sandwich size bags and a sharpie marker directly on the bag if you prefer.

2) Add the basic oatmeal mixture ingredients to each bag.

3) Add fruit, nuts, and other flavors.  If you like your oatmeal sweet, add a sweetener of choice.  I personally add about 1 1/2 tsp of sweetener per packet. Some options are:

  • coconut sugar
  • sucanat (dried sugar cane juice)
  • dried maple syrup
  • brown sugar

Some of the flavor combinations I chose are:

Mango Coconut:Freeze dried mango, shredded coconut.

Apricot Pecan: Dried apricots, pecan gems

Apple Cinnamon: Dried apples, cinnamon

Oatmeal Cookie: Raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon

Blueberry: Dried blueberries

Pumpkin Pie: Pumpkin Pie spice, brown sugar

Almond Brown Sugar:  Sliced almonds and brown sugar

Making your own instant oatmeal packets is really a no-brainer.  From my calculations homemade oatmeal packets cost about 1/3!  And look at the difference in ingredients.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets Commercial Instant Oatmeal Packets:  Rolled Oats, Sugar, flavored fruit peices, artificial flavor, calcium searate, citric acid, red 40, sodium sulfite, corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, calcium carbonate, sodium caseinate, dipotassium, phosphate, nonfat milk, guar gum, mono and diglycerides, ferric orthophosphate, titanium dioxide, vitamin A palmitate, niacinamide, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets:  

 So for a healthy, quick, and inexpensive breakfast, making your own homemade oatmeal packets is the way to go!

FOOD - Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets. For a healthy, quick, and inexpensive breakfast, making your own homemade oatmeal packets is the way to go! https://www.superhealthykids.com/homemade-instant-oatmeal-packets/

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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A buddy of mine just shared a recipe with me–oatmeal with chocolate protein powder, peanut butter, and bananas cut up in it. I tried it the other day and it was AMAZING! I figured it was something to mention since it was slightly on topic. The only thing you would have to add would be the banana and PB to your premixed oatmeal with protein powder.

I like doing this for trail mixes and I might have to start doing this for my oatmeal; I love oatmeal, but it really can get bland if you don’t mix things up. Thanks for the neat ideas to get my breakfasts lined up in advance (and making it healthier as well!).

Looking at the difference in the amount of ingredients is amazing!

There really is no need for all those preservatives in our instant oatmeal when we can easily make our own! Thank you for sharing this!

My kids love oatmeal (thank goodness!) and I use the 2 parts liquid to one part rolled oats. For liquid I use half soy milk (cow milk allergy) and half water, bring to a boil (about 3 minutes on my stove), then add the oats and cook 3 minutes. I remove from the heat and it keeps “cooking” as I spoon it into their bowls and serve with low sugar fruit jam or frozen fruit. The texture is not soft but they delish with only this amount of cooking on the stovetop, too. Thank you for a speedy idea on the prepacks with healthy goodness.

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How much of the extra combinations do you add to the oatmeal? Specifically the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Thanks!

I love these! We just made ours a few weeks ago and we all love them. We use quick cooking oats and just a little over 1/3 cup of boiling water. Thanks for sharing.

Its not just the money savings it is also knowing what you are allowing your children or family members to eat… Thank you for the recipe 🙂

I use unsweetened apple juice instead of water (and no powdered milk) and I find that way it doesn’t need any sweeteners. Minced pieces of dehydrated apple, some cinnamon, a few raisins, and the apple juice make for an almost apple-pie smelling oatmeal!

Remember: chia-seeds can be addictive! And if you’re taking pills to make your blood thinner, chia-seeds are extremely dangerous!!!

I make these up and put in a small container for when I travel, just add water and you have a good breakfast/snack while everyone else has to eat that horrible airline food!

Thanks for this! My kids love oatmeal and I love preparing lots of food in advance. This looks like a fit for our family! Looking forward to trying this at my house.

The abbreviation for teaspoon is tsp. and Tablespoon is Tbsp. The recipe is written: Tsp…HELP! Does it mean teaspoon or tablespoon? Thanks for the wonderful healthy recipes!!!

Just clarifying…are you saying the quick-cook oats or one-minute oats you buy in the canister are the same as whats used in the instant packets? I feel like I’ve tried them all and so far my kids only like the plain (yes plain) instant packets. I add cinnamon, maple syrup and cranberries. They like it best with hot tap water rather than boiling water from the stove. Could I use this same method with the quick oats from the canister? I’ve always cooked them on the stove and the kids are like…meh.

Yes – basically the quick oats from the canister are the same as the instant packets. Yes you can use the same method and it should come out the same as when you do it with the packets. Good luck!

Do you dry your fruits or buy “dried fruit”? If you dry them yourself can you please detail how? TIA!