Nothing beats oatmeal for nourishing, fill-you-up, keep-you-going breakfast. But, not everyone has time to make a fresh pot of rich, hearty oatmeal on a busy morning. And the cleanup? Forget it. You’re either scrubbing a pot before rushing out the door, or coming home to a hardened mess that needs to either soak or be chiseled off. Instant oatmeal is an option, but the packaging is often excessive.
Baked oatmeal is a great way around that and most recipes are super forgiving, so you really don’t need much baking skill to make something great. You can also get creative with your additions to have something different every week OR (and this is our favourite part) to use up different foods in your fridge or pantry to prevent food waste.
Another bonus of baked oatmeal? Many people (and kids) who don’t like traditional oatmeal do enjoy baked oatmeal. Depending on what you put in, it can almost taste like having dessert for breakfast! So, you can get all the health benefits of oatmeal without pushing yourself to eat something you don’t really like. Just how healthy is oatmeal? Here are just a few of the benefits:
High in beta-glucan - a type of fibre associated with lowering LDL cholesterol, reduced blood sugar and an increase in good gut bacteria
Helps you feel fuller for longer
High in a number of essential nutrients including iron, zinc, manganese, folate, B vitamins and more
High in avenanthramides - a type of antioxidant associated with lower blood pressure
There is even some evidence that children who eat oats have a reduced risk of developing asthma. This one isn’t yet conclusive, but the benefits above certainly are!
Ready to get into the baked oatmeal game?
First, the how. Here are a few of our favourite recipes from around the web:
Now, here’s the thing about these recipes (and just about every baked oatmeal recipe)... you don’t have to follow them exactly! It’s more about the technique and the quantities of wet to dry ingredients. When it comes to the flavour additions like fruit, nuts, spices and sweeteners, you can absolutely play around with these to create different flavours or to use up what you have on hand.
The trick is to keep the quantities consistent when it comes to the wet ingredients and the oatmeal itself. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of oatmeal and you want to add in some chia seeds, substitute ¼ cup of oatmeal for chia so that your measurements become 1 ¾ cups of oatmeal and ¼ cups of chia seeds.
Also, if a recipe calls for milk and you want to swap in a vegan option, just swap cup for cup so that ½ cup of cow’s milk becomes ½ cup of almond, soy or another milk alternative.
In terms of ingredients like dried fruit, nuts or seeds, these are more forgiving. If you want to just leave out nuts altogether, you can do that without swapping something in. You can also swap raisins for dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, or even chocolate chips! Swap seeds, nuts or even a bit of the oatmeal for dried coconut or cocoa nibs. Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds in place of walnuts. Get creative!
On the other hand, if a recipe calls for fresh fruit (not dried), you can’t just leave it out as that will eliminate some of the moisture that makes the end result so delicious. So, if you don’t like fruit in your oatmeal, just use a different recipe.
For sweeteners, you can usually get away with swapping cup for cup (¼ cup of brown sugar becomes ¼ cup of maple syrup, for example). You can also reduce or increase the amount of sweetener without impacting the end result too much.
Baked oatmeal must be stored in the fridge where it usually keeps for several days or up to a week. It’s perfect to make on a Sunday afternoon so you have breakfast ready to go for busy weekdays.
You can eat it straight out of the fridge or, for a hot breakfast, just heat up individual portions in the microwave, oven or toaster oven.
Baked oatmeal can be great for make-ahead brunch as well. Make a pan the night before then reheat in the oven the morning of!
You can also top your baked oatmeal with yogurt, maple syrup, fruit compote, fresh fruit, warm milk or cream, or just about anything you can think of.
Because recipes are so forgiving, baked oatmeal is perfect for using up what you have. Here are a few ways to reduce food waste with baked oatmeal:
Replace the butter or oil in a recipe with mashed banana or applesauce
Swap the fruit in a recipe for what you have
Pears instead of apples, strawberries instead of blueberries, etc.
Freeze extra fruit to use later
If you have too many apples, berries, kiwis, bananas, etc. simply wash, chop and freeze instead of letting them spoil, then dump them into your baked oatmeal mixture later on
Use up overripe fruit
Overripe fruit is still safe to eat, but not a great texture to eat fresh, so just add it to your baked oatmeal instead of tossing it
Use up small amounts of dry ingredients like seeds, nuts or even fast-cooking grains like quinoa or millet
Use up stale or leftover cereal
When you have small amounts of dry cereal left in a box, just swap some of the oatmeal in a recipe to use it up
Buy frozen or canned fruit instead of fresh
It keeps longer and tastes as good as (or even better than) fresh fruit when baked
Use up extra yogurt or kefir
Even past its best before date, yogurt products are usually safe to eat, but the texture may change as the water separates. Just give it a stir or a shake and use it in place of the milk or even oil in a recipe
Baked oatmeal is one of the best ways to make mornings easier, healthier and even better for the planet. Just remember to store your baked oatmeal in the fridge and your dry oatmeal in an airtight container to prevent spoilage.
Thank you for your interest in FoodHero and in the food waste cause.
We’re not quite ready to help you save money on perfectly fresh surplus food.
We’ll let you know as soon as we’re launching!