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One of my favorite frugal foods is oatmeal. It is so good for you–full of fiber, protein and whole-grain goodness. It costs very little and is very filling, so a small amount goes a looooong way. Oatmeal is one food that gives you lots of energy, fills you up quickly, but burns off in your body slowly, keeping your blood sugar from spiking. But for a lot of us who love oatmeal, the traditional method just takes too long in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I fell in love with instant oatmeal as a kid. Was there anything better than Maple and Brown Sugar oatmeal in the morning before school? I think not. Now that I’m an adult, I still love that flavor, but don’t want all the sugar and calories that come with the instant variety. It’s also pretty expensive. So I decided a few years ago to start making it myself. I found that it was surprisingly simple! It also is one of my favorite frugal foods, because if you watch sales this time of year you can match them with coupons and get the whole oat variety very cheap. Stock up while its on sale, and you’ve got a very versatile, healthy breakfast for only pennies every morning. So here’s how you can make your favorite flavor of “instant” oatmeal yet still get all the nutrients without any of the junk. I think you’ll find this tastes even better than the packaged stuff.



  • 4 cups of old-fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 cup of your favorite dried fruits: raisins, strawberries, bananas, peaches, etc.
  • 1 large resealable airtight container


  • In a large bowl mix the oats, brown sugar and powdered milk. Mix well.
  • Add your favorite dried fruit. You can get creative in this step. One of my favorites is raisins and chopped walnuts. I’ve also been known to add a touch of maple flavoring or vanilla with dried peaches to the mix.
  • Seal in your container. Keep this in a cool, dry spot.

To cook:

  • Scoop 1/2 a cup into a bowl
  • Add 1 cup of hot water.
  • Microwave for one minute.
  • (make sure the bowl is big enough to let the oatmeal rise while cooking, or you’ll have a mess in your microwave.)

If you want to skip the microwave, you can just use boiling water if you cut your whole oats. Put the four cups into the food processor or use a stick blender, and cut briefly into pieces. Then use the same measurements–1/2 cup of dry oats to 1 cup of boiling water from the kettle (or keurig) for instant oats.    Let sit for a minute so the water soaks in.

So easy, and so good!

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