Frugal Food Fridays, Recipes

Frugal Food Friday: Ode to the Oat

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I love my oats (if you can’t tell from the simple fact that I’ve devoted an entire blog post to the topic). So, today I’m sharing 5 reasons to love oats and 5 delicious ways to eat them. And by the end of this post, hopefully you’ll be just as convinced as I am that they are the perfect frugal addition to your grocery list. 🙂

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5 Reasons to Love Oats

1. Oats are cheap.

In fact, they are one of the most budget friendly foods out there. Right up there with beans and rice. A huge 42 ounce container of old fashioned oats costs only a few dollars and makes about 30 servings. That’s a month’s worth of breakfasts for somewhere around $3.00.

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In my experience, the old fashioned variety are the least expensive per ounce. There are also quick oats, which save you a bit of time, but are more highly processed (read: more expensive per ounce) and don’t give you the same chunky texture as the old fashioned variety.

Steel cut oats seem to be the “coolest” variety, second only to the whole oat groats (yes, that’s a real thing) that you can buy in some health food stores, and which will earn you a nod of approval from any hipster who witnesses your purchase. I personally steer clear of the instant oatmeal packets, which tend to be highly processed and loaded with sugar. (Each of these options will cost you more, with the whole groats likely being the most expensive of the three, but all are still relatively inexpensive.)

Harvesting your own oats would certainly be the most badass option, however for the sake of time and convenience, I’ll stick to old fashioned.

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If, like me, you enjoy nerding out on food facts and nutrition info, you can find a nice little summary over at the Whole Grains Council.

2. Oats are versatile.

They can be made overnight or served hot with just a few minutes of prep (microwave or stove top). Eat them on-the-go or hot and fresh at the breakfast table. Add them to your favorite recipes (pancakes, cookies, etc.) to healthify those otherwise less-healthy-but-oh-so-necessary foods.

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3. Oats boast an insane amount of nutritional value.

Vitamins! Minerals! Antioxidants! Seriously. More health benefits than I feel like typing, to be honest. You can either take my word for it or, if you need proof, you can shimmy on over to Healthline for some facts and figures.

4. Oats go with everything.

They pair well with so many flavors and can serve as a carrier for those nutrient-dense foods we should all be eating more of. You know the ones I’m referring to…those antioxidant-packed berries (fresh or frozen) or heart-healthy nuts and seeds (Flax! Chia! Walnuts! Etc!).

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Bonus points if you cook the oats using a fortified plant milk (almond, soy, coconut, rice, etc.) instead of water, and give your body a boost of the other countless nutrients it’s probably craving.

5. Oats are filling.

Ever finish a huge, steaming bowl of oatmeal and feel like you don’t need to eat again for like…a day?

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There’s just something about oatmeal that gives it that incredible “sticking power”. You know, the ability to stick with you all morning without sending your blood sugar through the roof, only to have it crash back down again within an hour of breakfast, which in turn causes you to reach for whichever pick-me-up enters your visual field first?

Then, before you know it, you’re sobbing into that muffin/bagel/doughnut/cookie/double cheeseburger that somehow materialized in your hand without you realizing, and you’re left lamenting your complete and utter lack of self-control. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… 😉

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In other words, oats seem to keep me feeling fuller, longer. When I eat them for breakfast, I’m often in a better place to continue making healthy food choices throughout the day (at least until it’s time for Netflix).

5 Ways to Eat Oats

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If you’re a total newb, rest assured that oats are super easy to make.

1. Start by combining the right ratio of oats to liquid according to package directions (typically, it’s ½ cup of oats to 1 cup of liquid).

2. Then, cook in the microwave or on the stove top, also according to package directions. (Helpful tip: when I cook oats in the microwave using plant milk, I find I have to double the cooking time – not sure why this is the case. Regardless, after about 2 minutes of cooking, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t boil over the top of the bowl.)

3. Finally, top with whatever goodies your little heart desires. My favorite toppings include fresh, frozen, or dried fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butters, powders (i.e. cacao/unsweetened cocoa), spices (i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.), and an extra splash of plant milk.

Now, go forth and sow those wild oats in your own kitchen and try the following interesting flavor combinations.

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1. Tropical Oats

  • fresh or frozen mango or pineapple
  • fresh banana
  • shredded unsweetened coconut
  • sprinkle of chia seeds

2. Peanut Butter Banana Oats

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  • natural peanut butter
  • fresh banana
  • ground flax

3. Banana Bread Oats

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  • extra ripe banana
  • cinnamon
  • chopped walnuts
  • maple syrup

4. Decadent Chocolate Raspberry Oats

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  • cacao or cocoa powder, or high-quality dark chocolate chunks (70% cacao or higher)
  • fresh or frozen raspberries
  • shredded unsweetened coconut

5. Carrot Cake Oats

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  • grated carrots
  • raisins
  • chopped pecans
  • maple syrup

Healthy, delicious, and will warm you to your core. Enjoy!

How do you like to top your oats? Share in the comments!

 

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