Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets: DIY Time-Saver

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Homemade Oatmeal Packets DIY Instant

DIY oatmeal packets are great for quick breakfasts! Making instant homemade oatmeal packets allows you to control ingredients, tailor flavors, and more.

Note: you may also be interested in our Overnight Oats recipe.

DIY Oatmeal Packets Recipe!

Growing up, instant oatmeal packets were a staple in our house in the winter. I LOVE waking up to a big, comforting bowl of oatmeal on a chilly day. It just wraps you in a warm blanket and lets you know that, even if it’s cold outside, you can be warm inside.

Sweet Sweet Oatmeal

It has been many years since I’ve purchased instant oatmeal packets. I stopped buying them because buying a tub of oats was so much cheaper and it allowed me to be more creative with what I would put into my oatmeal.

Then, after making my own oatmeal for a few years I had the chance to try one of those packets again. And you know what hit me? Just how SWEET those packets are. Some of them are more like dessert than breakfast!!

What I learned was that by making my own oatmeal, I had control over the sweetness of my breakfast. And when I was in control, something interesting happened. Little by little, I wanted the oatmeal less sweet. Maybe I’d throw in dates and not need sugar at all. Maybe I’d just add a little swirl of honey and realize that was all I needed. However it happened, all I know is when I tasted that packet again, I was blown away by how my tastes had changed.

That’s not to say you can’t make your homemade oatmeal packets sweet. But, at least you know exactly what sweetener is being used.

Making Oatmeal at Home

Honestly, making oatmeal at home from rolled oats doesn’t take much longer than those instant packets. Sure, if you make it on the stove, you might be investing 5-7 minutes. But, you can still make it in the microwave in 1-2 minutes flat.

What can get tricky on busy mornings is figuring out what to put into your oatmeal and measuring out the ingredients.

If you barely have time for breakfast, you probably don’t have time to think and measure.

Homemade Oatmeal Packets to the Rescue!

By making DIY oatmeal packets, you have pre-measured servings that you can dump and heat.

No time for breakfast? Grab a bag on your way to the office and heat it there.

Or better yet, keep some of these packets stashed in your desk for those days when you’re running a bit behind in the morning. (They make great mid-afternoon snacks too!)

Whenever you eat them, you can have confidence that you’re eating good, whole ingredients that YOU chose. Not artificial sweeteners or flavorings. Just pure, healthy goodness.

Rolled Oats vs Instant Oats

One thing you’ll have to decide is whether you want to use rolled oats or instant oats in your DIY oatmeal packets.

Rolled oats are oat groats that have been pressed through rollers to flatten them. They absorb liquid nicely and hold their shape pretty well in cooking. Oatmeal made with rolled oats will have a nice texture to it once cooked.

Quick oats are pressed thinner than regular rolled oats, so they cook a bit quicker. They’re a good medium point between rolled and instant.

Instant oats are made from oat groats that have been pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled thin. They cook a bit more quickly than rolled oats but don’t hold their texture as well, so they tend to create oatmeal with a softer texture.

The good thing to know is that no matter the processing method, all these oats retain their nutritional value. So pick your favorite and enjoy!

DIY Oatmeal Packets Recipe

For each one-serving packet, you will need:

*You’ll need to experiment to see what sweetness level you prefer for your DIY oatmeal packets. I only use a scant 1 teaspoon, but my husband likes closer to 2.


Place all of the ingredients into a small resealable bag or container. Store your DIY oatmeal packets in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use.

To Cook 

  1. Pour the contents into a bowl and add ¾ cup water. Stir to combine and microwave on high for 1-3 minutes, checking every 30 seconds, and more frequently as the oatmeal begins to heat up.
  2. Cook the DIY oatmeal packets less time for thinner oatmeal, or cook it for more time for thicker oatmeal.
  3. Let the oatmeal stand for a minute to thicken. Add more water if the oatmeal is too thick.
  4. Enjoy!

Flavoring Your Homemade Oatmeal Packets

Feel free to get creative with your add-ins depending on what you like or what you have in your pantry, but here are some suggestions that I like!

  • Berries & Cream – 2 Tablespoons freeze-dried strawberries, or dried blueberries
  • Peaches & Cream – 2 Tablespoons freeze-dried peaches
  • Apple Cinnamon – 2 Tablespoons freeze-dried apples + ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Banana Walnut – 2 Tablespoons dried bananas (or freeze-dried) + 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • Cranberry Orange – 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries + ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • Pecan Date – 2 Tablespoons chopped, dried dates + 2 Tablespoons chopped pecans
  • Cinnamon Spice – ¼ teaspoon cinnamon + ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg + ⅛ teaspoon ginger + pinch of cloves
  • Cherry Almond – 2 Tablespoons dried cherries + 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
  • Cinnamon Raisin – 2 Tablespoons raisins + ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Maple Pecan – 2 Tablespoons pecans + maple sugar as your sweetener

Nutrition Boosters

Oatmeal is already a very healthy breakfast option, but you can really kick up the nutrition of your DIY oatmeal packets by picking one or two of these nutrition boosters to each packet.

  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp oat bran
  • 2 tsp wheat germ
  • (Matt & Betsy like 1 tablespoon grass-fed gelatin for added protein & other health benefits)

Make up a bunch of these homemade oatmeal packets at one time, and you’re set for a few weeks!

How would you flavor your DIY oatmeal packets? Share your ideas below!


About Sarah Ozimek

Sarah is a writer, recipe developer, traveler, gardener, and lover of (almost) all things outdoors. Together with her husband Tim, she writes the blog Curious Cuisiniere where they explore world cuisines and cooking using real ingredients and tried and true methods, the way our ancestors have done for ages. Connect with Sarah on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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  1. Danielle says

    I’ve only just started liking oatmeal, and I’m inspired by all of the fun variations you listed. Also, as a breastfeeding mama, the nutrition boosters are such great sources of healthy fat!

  2. Patti says

    Can you use steel cut oats? Are they healthier than the others? How long do you think it would take to microwave them? Thank you.

    • Kaz says

      Great question… I’m wondering same. Plus would like to know difference between rolled & steel cut.

      • Suzy says

        The processing of the oat is the main difference between rolled and steel cut. Think of a strawberry as jelly or as preserves; same fruit, different end product due to the processing. The steel cut might work, but I think the attractions to the packet idea is that it is convenient and a time-saver. I’d guess that the steel oats would need considerable more time to soften to an edible consistency. If you pour the water over, or even microwave, it won’t happen as fast as using rolled. Steel cut oats cook nicely overnight in a crock pot though! Just putting in my two-cents, hope it helps!

      • Sarah Ozimek says

        Like Suzy said, Steel-cut oats (also called Irish oats) are made by simply chopping the oat groat rather than rolling it. This means they do take much longer to cook and have more of a chewy texture. They definitely wouldn’t “cook” from just putting boiling water over them. And, while I’ve never tried cooking them in the microwave, I’d imagine they would work, but it would take much longer than rolled.

        As for nutrition content, all oats, steel cut, rolled, or instant have the same nutritional value. Some people do prefer steel cut, however, because, since they are less less broken down, the body processes them more slowly.

  3. Suzy says

    I’ve been making oatmeal packets since my children were very young (they’re both late 30s now!). Simply whirl up some oats in a blender until powdery. To each “packet” add 1/4 cup unpowdered oats, 2 tablespoons of the powdered oats and then your extras of choice (craisins are great!). I never bothered with the salt. I also don’t use a microwave, so putting about 3/4 cup of boiling water on top does the trick. You can add brown sugar to the packet so you don’t even need to sweeten, just dump into a bowl and “cook.” Easy and nutritious!

    • Liz says

      Yes! That’s how I make my oatmeal every morning. Just add very hot/boiling water to the bowl of oats, stir, and let sit for a few minutes. Delicious and fast. I like to add a dollop of plain yogurt and some frozen blueberries, too. If using flax for the nutrient benefits, be sure to grind it fresh and sprinkle it over the oats AFTER cooking, just before eating.

    • Sarah Ozimek says

      This will definitely work by pouring boiling water over them! I make mine that way sometimes when I’m really short on time. However, personally, I like the tender, almost fluffy texture of actually cooked oats better. I find that when I just use boiling water the oats are still more chewy than I sometimes like. But, it definitely still makes for a good, quick breakfast!

      I think it is all a matter of taste preference and what you have the ability (time or otherwise) to do!