I have this most awesome of friends, Andrea Parrish, who has a blogging itch she would like to scratch, but not the time to dedicate to a full time blog (probably because she has a day job and several personal businesses.) So I have invited her to post here when inspiration strikes her. With her being a bicycle commuter, whole/slow/natural food advocate, entrepreneur and brilliantly creative type gal, I feel she will fit right in at Nearly Wild Life. This is her first (of hopefully many) guest posts!
Lately I have been seeing little containers of oatmeal pop up at my favorite coffee shops, and while they are certainly handy when I am out and about, I knew that they were expensive, and it was difficult to track exactly the calorie / nutrient contents, even with best estimations (I tend to buy small-producer products, which do not necessarily have nutrition labeling on them). I had tried at previous jobs to keep a bag of oatmeal in my desk for mornings where I needed breakfast, but those bags always seemed to sit unused, no matter how good my intentions were; finding a bowl and microwaving was too much for my sleepy-hungry brain when there were breakfast sandwiches and muffins just a few steps away.
Canning Jars To The Rescue
I was talking this over with Peter, my husband, one night, and said “if only I could find a re-usable container of some kind that could hold boiling water, and be easily sealed for the bike ride to work, and…”. Pete laughed and handed me one of the dozens of empty canning jars we had sitting in our storage room. The containers are sturdy, can easily hold up to boiling water, seal easily, and as a bonus, look pretty awesome. It took a bit of tweaking, but I’ve found a base recipe that works well, and with 10 minutes of work, I can make a dozen or so jars to give me a tasty, fast breakfast that I can make anytime at work. As a bonus, it doesn’t go bad if I forget about it in my bag, either, which I admit has happened more than a few times.
Canning Jar Oatmeal Recipe
I tend to weigh out my ingredients, because I’m terrible at actually keeping around measuring cups, and it makes nutritional analysis easier. I’ve done the conversion to volume measurements, but they are not perfect. With this oatmeal, though, perfect is entirely up to you, since oatmeal is pretty darn tough to mess up.
- 2.5 oz (3/4 cup) quick-cooking oats
- .5 oz (1 Tablespoon) flax seeds or nuts
- .5 oz (1 Tablespoon) brown sugar
- 1 oz (1/4 cup) dried fruit – I generally use cranberries or cherries, but any dried fruit will work
Layer in a canning jar. Shake just before making, and add about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups boiling or very hot water (just until the oats are covered). Screw on the lid, shake again, and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Carefully remove lid and eat!
I’m also experimenting with adding powdered milk, different types of nuts, and other types of quick-cooking whole grains to this mixture. The great thing is, it’s really tough to mess up oatmeal, so you can throw just about anything in.
Single-serve container of fruit-and-nut oatmeal at the coffee shop: $4
Organic Oats: $1 per pound / $0.063 per ounce / $0.16 per serving
Organic Flax Seeds: $2 per pound / $0.12 per ounce / $0.06 per serving
Organic Brown Sugar: $5.39 24 oz / $0.22 per ounce / $0.11 per serving
Dried Cranberries: $11 48 oz / $0.23 per ounce and serving
Total Cost: $0.56 per serving
Canning jars generally run about $1 each, though the cost can be spread over the many, many, many washings and re-uses.
This analysis is for oatmeal with flax seeds and dried cranberries. As always, these are approximate and for the ingredients I use – yours might be different.
- Calories: 416 (or about 26 minutes of biking )
- Calories from Fat: 99
- Total Fat: 11 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 g
- Sodium: 13 mg
- Carbohydrates: 69.7 g
- Fiber: 12.6 g
- Sugars: 15.8 g
- Protein: 12.2 g
- Calcium: 9%
- Vitamin C: 6%
- Iron: 22%
So in the end, making my own ended up saving me around $3.44 per serving, and the fact it is a re-usable container, rather than a disposable one doesn’t hurt. These things also keep for a very long time, so I’ve put a few in my desk drawer for those days I forget lunch or manage to leave my backpack with breakfast and lunch at home.