Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Variations of a Frugal Breakfast Staple

  Oatmeal is enjoyed several mornings a week here at the cottage.  I usually cook a country-style breakfast of bacon, eggs from our chickens, and potatoes when Colton is home, as it is his favorite meal of the day. But when it is just me and John, a simple bowl of oatmeal is on the menu.

'Carrot Cake' inspired oatmeal

  Oatmeal is full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, so I can feel good about giving it to John as I know he's getting a nourishing breakfast.  Mom bonus: it only dirties one pot and takes about 10 minutes.

   It's also a very budget-friendly choice.  I did a cost breakdown at the request of a friend, based on a 1/2 cup serving size for each brand.  The cost was calculated from the prices at our nearest Walmart, without coupons, sales, and rebates:

  • Great Value (generic store brand) Old Fashioned Oats, 42 oz canister: .09/serving
  • Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, 42 oz canister: .11/serving
  • Bob's Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Oats, 32 oz bag: .26/serving
  Even Bob's Red Mill, the most expensive option, is still a very frugal choice, especially if you can purchase it with coupons and rebates.  At full price, the cost works out to be the same as instant oatmeal packets, except it's organic and doesn't contain all of the artificial flavors and fillers.  We have eaten the generic brand (usually HEB, not Great Value), Quaker, and Bob's Red Mill.  It really just depends on what the best price is at the time of our shopping!

  Now, I do realize oatmeal can be a little...boring.  Because we eat it regularly, I've come up with a list of toppings and add-ins to create different, tasty variations.  (Toppings will, of course, affect the cost per serving depending on what you choose.)


Maple Syrup
Raw/White/Brown Sugar

Add-ins and Toppings

Berries, fresh or frozen and thawed
Cooked apples (I chop them up and cook them along with the oatmeal)
Shredded Coconut
Chopped Nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds)
Peanut/Almond Butter
Chia Seeds
Shredded Carrots (again, cooked along with the oatmeal)
Coconut Oil/Butter/Cream
Cinnamon and/or other spices such as cloves or nutmeg

Cooked apple, cinnamon, and a light drizzle of honey

  Because we try to moderate the consumption of sugar in our home for health reasons, I will generally use less sweetener or omit it altogether if I add fruit to our oatmeal, especially bananas, since they are already sweet. When John was a baby, I would grind his oatmeal before cooking it so that it would be smooth, and then I would serve it (cooked) with applesauce and a touch of cinnamon mixed into it.  He loved it!  That is why I added applesauce to the sweetener section.  It all just depends on personal preference.  I would also add that the chia and flaxmeal can be added to any combination to boost the health benefits without greatly altering the taste.

Here are a few combinations that you might enjoy:

  • Raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar 
  • Blueberries, bananas, cinnamon, honey
  • Shredded carrots (cooked right in the pot with the oatmeal, they finish at the same time), cinnamon, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, brown sugar- This carrot cake inspired combination is a good way to get a few veggies in!
  • Diced apples (again, cooked right in the pot with the oats), honey, cinnamon, cloves 
  • Bananas, shredded coconut, chopped pecans, sweetener of choice
  • Almond/peanut butter, bananas, honey 

  While I have not personally tried it, my father-in-law prefers a savory oatmeal and mixes a bit of cooked sausage in with his.  Another that I didn't add to the list would be chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and pecans.  Now this would be more like a dessert and obviously not very healthy!  I think it could be an occasional treat, but I won't do it because I know John would be asking for "wah-wah-mip" (chocolate chips) every morning.  So it's a try-at-your-own-risk combo!  

  If you are accustomed to buying the flavored packets of instant oatmeal, draw inspiration from there and try to recreate the flavors you like at home.  It will be better for your health and your budget.

  What is your favorite way to eat oatmeal?  Let us know if you have any ideas for this frugal breakfast staple!


  1. Breakfast is not high on my go to list. However when the Grandies are here I am looking for ways to feed them that does not involve sugar. I discovered a blog called Lucy Stewart Nutrition. She has some wonderful recipes for little people.

    1. Thank you, Jane. I'll have to go check out her blog. We do try to keep our sugar intake at a minimum.

  2. Yum! I love oatmeal with milk, butter and brown sugar. Sliced almonds or walnuts are good in it too. And I like toast with my oatmeal

    1. That sounds delicious, Kathy! Thank you for sharing.

  3. I love leftover oatmeal fried like a potato cake.

    1. I have never thought of that! Do you add flour before frying? Leftover oatmeal usually gets added to pancake or muffin batter the next day around here.

  4. You will laugh at me but I do not like oatmeal. As a child growing up, we had oatmeal every.single.morning for breakfast. I promised myself that when I got out on my own, I would not eat oatmeal and I don't! (I'm sure if I was hungry enough I would, but that would be the only way!) I do however, eat oats in granola bars and in baking, etc. You have some really good ideas though for someone who likes oatmeal!

    1. Patsy, I can understand getting burned out on oatmeal, especially if you had to eat it every day. John loves it, but I need to change it up a bit each time. Colton was like that about pancakes when we first got married- he ate them so much growing up, he never wanted me to make them!

  5. I just ran across your blog- you are so interesting. Looking forward to following it. I like oatmeal but hubby absolutely hates it. I add blueberries to make it more tasty.

    1. I'm glad you found my blog, Deloris! You are not the first person to describe me as "interesting", haha! Yes, we save oatmeal for days when my husband isn't home for breakfast. He doesn't hate it, but it isn't something he's too fond of, either.


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