Freeze Your Oatmeal

13-10-28 oatmeal 900x602

Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast for both kids and adults. It’s nutritious, provides an entire morning's worth of energy and has amazing flavor. Instant oatmeal is quick, but low on the nutrition scale, however steel cut oats might take 45 minutes to prepare. How can you fit the nutritional benefits of oats into an already-packed early morning schedule? Make it ahead in a large batch and freeze it!

Here’s how to cook and freeze a large quantity of steel cut oats. This recipe can easily be doubled for larger families.

You’ll need:
3 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
Pinch of salt

In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Shorter cooking times will result in crunchier oats. When done, remove oatmeal from the stove and let cool.

You can also use these same proportions and cook the oats overnight. Bring water, salt and oats to a boil in a large pot. Let boil on high for one to two minutes. Leave your pot on the burner, but turn off the heat. Cover. In the morning the oats should be perfectly cooked. For those of you at higher altitudes, cook on medium-high for five minutes before turning off the burner.

Steel cut oats are also great when cooked in the crock pot. With this make ahead method, you'll want to use a little more water, maybe 3 1/2 to four cups. Cook overnight for yummy, ready to eat oatmeal in the morning.

Freezing oatmeal is easy. For individual portions you can freeze oatmeal in ice cube trays, small silicone muffin baking cups or any other freezer container. Lightly grease the trays or cups, fill with oatmeal and freeze for four to five hours. When frozen, pop the oatmeal out of the container and store in freezer bags. These make ahead bags will keep for two to three months. For adults, about three-fourths to one cup is a good portion size. Young children will enjoy about a half cup portion and just a few tablespoons will suffice toddlers. You can remove as many portions as you need when you are ready for a healthy, quick breakfast. Get out your measuring cup to test your tray/cups in advance to determine how many cubes or portions will be the right amount.

Adding all sorts of ingredients to the oatmeal before freezing will give you variety and interesting flavors. Some ideas to try include brown sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut or finely ground or chopped nuts. Fruit also works well. Add finely chopped apples, dried or fresh banana, blueberries, chopped dates, raisins, craisins and dried apricots or cranberries. Try some wheat germ or flax seeds for a boost of nutrition and fiber.

Frozen oatmeal thaws well in the microwave. Or, use the energy saving method of setting out the amount you'll need for breakfast the night before. It’ll be thawed enough for a quick reheat in the morning.