Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Yield: 1 serving per packet (young children may be satisfied with a half packet)
Mix and match the options to create a healthy and economical alternative to the store-bought packets.


  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) quick or instant oats (old fashioned oats may be used for microwave and refrigerator oatmeal)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional but adds nutrients and bulk)
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar (adjust to taste and feel free to use granular sweetener of choice or add honey or maple syrup to prepared oatmeal)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) sea or kosher salt
  • OPTIONAL ADD-INS (see our favorite flavor combinations below):
  • Dried or freeze dried fruit, chopped
  • Chopped nuts or seeds (pecans, walnuts, almond pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • Powdered peanut butter* (like PB2)
  • Vanilla powder or additional spices like pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
  • Cocoa powder

To make the oatmeal

  • 2/3 cup or 3/4 cup water, depending on method (may substitute milk of choice; amount may vary depending on chosen add-ins)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (for refrigerator oats only)


  1. Combine the basic recipe ingredients in individual zip-top bags or storage containers of choice.  If desired, add additional ingredients for customized flavors. (See ideas below.)  Mason jars are a great option to the bags and can be used for storage as well as eating.  If using, choose a jar with at least a 12-ounce capacity to ensure room for stirring.

    To prepare a single serving of hot oatmeal: 
    BOILING WATER METHOD (better for quick or instant oats rather than the thicker old-fashioned oats): Add one oatmeal packet to a mug or bowl. Pour in 2/3 cups boiling water and stir. Let stand for 2-4 minutes to soften and thicken; stir, adding a little more water or milk to loosen, if needed, and enjoy.
    MICROWAVE METHOD: Add 1 oatmeal packet and 2/3 to 3/4 cup cold water or milk of choice to a microwave-safe mug or bowl. (The container needs to be about twice the volume of the dry oat mixture to allow room for expansion; start with the lesser amount of liquid the first time.) Cook on high for 90 seconds, adjusting as needed for individual microwave. Stir, and then allow the oats to thicken for 2-4 minutes.  Stir again, and add an extra drizzle of liquid to loosen or cool the oatmeal, as desired.

    To prepare a single serving of easy refrigerator oatmeal:
    Add one oatmeal packet to a jar or bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup milk of choice and 1/4 cup yogurt and cover.  Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours) before eating.  Prepared refrigerator oats will keep for up to 3 days.  When making refrigerator oats, I like to stir in an assortment of chopped bananas, peaches, berries, slivered almonds, a drizzle of maple syrup, and/or other traditional oatmeal mix-ins just before eating.

FLAVOR VARIATIONS (combine the following ingredients with the basic recipe):

    • Plain: follow basic recipe
  1. Cinnamon Raisin: 2 tablespoons raisins and 1/4 teaspoon total cinnamon
  2. Apples and Cinnamon: 2 tablespoons dried apple bits or 1/4 cup dehydrated apples and 1/4 teaspoon total cinnamon
  3. Peanut Butter Banana: 1 tablespoon powdered peanut butter and 1/4 cup dehydrated bananas (not banana chips; may add fresh banana and/or regular peanut butter prior to serving – and a spoonful of jam just before eating makes a great PB&J version)
  4. Strawberries and Cream: 1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder (could add vanilla extract when adding liquid); coconut milk is a nice option to water or regular milk for this flavor, as is a tablespoon or so of toasted coconut flakes
  5. Dark Chocolate Raspberry: 1/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries, 1 tablespoon dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like to wrap the chips in a small piece of plastic wrap and reserve them as a topping; may mix with oats if melted chocolate throughout is preferred.)
  6. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup: 1 tablespoon peanut butter powder and 1 tablespoon chocolate chips (wrapped separately or added later if you prefer as a topping; see above) If you don’t have powdered peanut butter, simply stir in regular peanut butter or nut butter of choice when preparing.
  7. Blueberry: 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup freeze-dried blueberries and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
  8. Tropical: 1/4 cup dehydrated mango or pineapple (or a mix of both) and 1 tablespoon toasted coconut flakes (coconut or coconut/almond milk is a tasty option to water for this one)

Notes & Tips

*When using powdered peanut butter, I add 1 tablespoon powdered peanut butter per serving.  I’ve tried protein powder in these packets, although it’s not my favorite way to use it.  If you’d like to try, I’d recommend starting with no more than a half scoop.

Tip for little kids so they can help — mark a cup with a line for the water.

Another option is to add 2 teaspoons of powdered milk to the basic recipe for a little extra creaminess (I recently tested dried coconut milk for a non-dairy/vegan option, and it was quite good).  Alternatively, I sometimes make these packets according to the microwave directions with milk instead of water.  Milk ratchets up the creaminess, flavor, and nutrients.  An in between option is to make with a little less water than needed and, once thickened, loosen with milk of choice.  This is also a great way to cool the oatmeal, especially for kids who are more sensitive to the temperature level.

Make-ahead convenience: these bags may be made, tightly sealed, and stored for several months, depending on the shelf life of the ingredients used. May be stored in freezer to extend their life further.

To make oatmeal packets gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats.

More recipes at FountainAvenueKitchen.com