Easy Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets for the Frugal Budget

by Reader Contributors

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Why pay extra for the store-bought flavored oatmeal packets? Save money with these recipes and tips for homemade instant oatmeal packets from our frugal readers.

Do you love the convenience of the instant oatmeal packets sold in grocery stores, but hate the cost?

According to our frugal readers, making your own is actually quite simple. They shared with us their favorite recipes and tips. Below, you’ll find quite a list of variations of different flavors that are delicious as well as economical, along with some unique ways to enjoy your morning bowl of hot oats.

Eat-At-Your-Desk Oatmeal

Each morning, I have flavored oatmeal at my desk. I found a really simple way to make it.

3/4 c. oats
1 packet artificial sweetener
1 T (or more) cinnamon

Add water to your desired consistency. I use the water out of our water cooler, so it’s already hot, and I can get a good idea of how full to fill my bowl. Add some blueberries, strawberries, sliced apples, raisins, etc., and you have a quick, easy, nutritious breakfast with a lot less sugar and calories than pre-packaged oatmeal!

Not Just for Coffee

I use flavored French vanilla syrup (the ones for coffee and tea) to flavor my plain oatmeal. The nice thing is that it comes in sugar-free.
Reader from Zionsville

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Homemade Instant Oatmeal Plus Variations

3 cups Quick-Cooking Oats
Small-sized Zip Baggies

Put 1/2 cup oats in a blender and blend on high until powdery. Set aside in a small bowl, and repeat the procedure with an additional 1/2 cup of oats. If you’re using a food processor, you can do the 1 cup of oats in one batch. Put the following ingredients into each zip baggie: 1/4 cup un-powdered oats, 2 Tbsp. powdered oats, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Store in an airtight container.

To serve: Empty packet into a bowl. Add 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir and let stand for 2 minutes. For thicker oatmeal, use less water – for thinner oatmeal, use more water.


Add additional ingredients per packet.

  • Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal: Add 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp. chopped dried apples
  • Sweetened Oatmeal: Add 1 Tbsp. sugar or 1 packet artificial sweetener
  • Brown Sugar/Cinnamon Oatmeal: Add 1 Tbsp. brown sugar & 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • Oatmeal with Raisins & Brown Sugar: Add 1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. raisins
  • Health Nut Oatmeal: Add 2 Tbsp. any kind of wheat germ
  • Fruit & Cream Oatmeal: Add 1 Tbsp. non-dairy coffee creamer and 2 Tbsp. dried fruit
  • Fun Fruit Oatmeal: Add 6 or 7 pieces of ‘fruit snack’ type dehydrated fruit
  • Confetti Oatmeal: Add 1 tsp. decorative cake/cookie sprinkles
  • S’More Oatmeal: Add 6 miniature marshmallows and 1 Tbsp. Milk Chocolate Chips
  • Cookies n Cream Oatmeal: Add 1 crushed Oreo cookie and 1 Tbsp. non-dairy coffee creamer
  • Exploding Oatmeal: Add 1 tsp. sugar, and 1/2 tsp. ‘Pop Rocks’ candy (This one is fun for celebration days, such as birthdays!)
  • Bart-man Oatmeal: Add 2 Tbsp. ‘Butterfinger B.B’s’ candies

Kaylin Cherry of Real Recipes for Real People

Let Each Family Member Mix Favorite Flavorings

To add a variety of flavors to our quick-cooking oatmeal (and avoid the expensive oatmeal packets), we designate a small jar for each member of the household. In the jars, each person can mix their favorite sweetening, spices, nuts and dried fruit. Each child and adult can add their preference before or after cooking, depending on your preparation. Some suggestions are white or brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, chopped walnuts, etc. Let your creativity develop new breakfast experiences.

After the jar is empty, the family can change or continue with their favorite flavors. Look at packets at the supermarket for ideas or change with the seasons.

Quick and Delicious

I got this recipe from the Quick Cooking magazine.

  • 1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Additional Ingredients (for each additional batch)

  • 2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Brown sugar, optional

In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. YIELD: 9 batches (about 1 cup total).

To prepare oatmeal: In a bowl, combine oats and 2 tablespoons of oatmeal spice mix. Add enough boiling water until the oatmeal is the desired consistency. Sprinkle with brown sugar if desired. Yield: 1 serving

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Use Your Slow Cooker

Buy the family-size rolled oats (not quick oats) and use your slow cooker! We do this and it tastes great!

Measure into your slow cooker the normal ratio of one cup of oats to two cups of water. We add cinnamon (about a teaspoon to every triple batch) and sometimes some dehydrated apple or sliced fresh apple. Turn the slow cooker on low for about eight hours (overnight) and wake up knowing breakfast is already taken care of in a very yummy way. We have also added brown sugar when in the mood. Why not substitute with maple syrup?

This is by far our best breakfast when considering savings, convenience and nutritional content.

Try Baked Oatmeal

Here’s a recipe that we tried after my hubby was diagnosed with high cholesterol. It’s absolutely terrific, and you can probably omit the cranberries and/or the raisins.

  • 2 1/4 cups quick oats or 2 3/4 cups old fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 3 1/3 cups fat-free milk
  • 4 egg whites, lightly beaten or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • fat-free milk or nonfat yogurt and fruit (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with no stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and salt and mix well. In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg whites, oil and vanilla. Mix well. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into the baking dish. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until the center is set. Serve with milk or yogurt and fruit, if desired. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Makes 8 servings.

Note: To reheat, place a single serving in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.

* If you don’t want to hassle with a whole recipe, you can just add brown sugar to your plain old oatmeal. With cinnamon and even some grated apples and walnuts, your oatmeal will be transformed. We’ve tried it all! Enjoy!
Susan in CA

Reviewed October 2023

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