March 31, 2015

Cheap Eats: Overnight Oats

Good Morning!

So, March- and our budget focused month here on Peoplefood- is over... I am very anxious to welcome Spring, and all of the pleasures that warmer weather will bring.

At the beginning of the month, I mentioned that we were going to try to stick to a very strict food budget this month of only $125. How'd we do?? Well, we were unable to stick to our budget. But, that's ok. Why didn't we? Baby formula (story for another day), no eating out (you spend more at the grocery store when you cook every meal), prepping freezer meals for future enjoyment, and a couple unforeseen special meals. Overall, even though we didn't meet our (likely unrealistic) goal, we are happy with how we did.

One recipe/breakfast idea that I came to love this month is Overnight Oats. Budget-friendly, healthy and super customizable, they make for a satisfying and convenient breakfast.

I have seen overnight oats all over the internet, and at first I was a little skeptical. Cold oatmeal didn't sound all that appealing. However, I tried them and fell in love. I often enjoy them straight out of the refrigerator, or occasionally stick them in the microwave for just 30 seconds before stirring them up. I don't like eating piping hot oatmeal in the warmer months, and this will be a great way to enjoy heart-healthy oatmeal during the summer.

Mixing them up before bed and letting them do their thing all night while I sleep really couldn't be easier. Being able to just grab a ready-to-go breakfast comes in super handy on my work days- and when I'm home with my boys and need to be able to climb aboard a pirate ship couch/take Curious George to the veterinarian/make bottles and change diapers.


Like I said, one of the things I love about these is the fact that you can make them with just about anything! Start with 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats (NOT quick cooking) and 1/2 cup milk and let your imagination and taste buds determine the rest! I have seen recipes which include yogurt, but I haven't tried it that way just yet. Here are some of my favorite combinations so far:

Banana Bread
1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 small banana, sliced
1 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
dash of cinnamon
2 tbsp ground flax seed (optional) 

Strawberries and Cream
1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 cup lowfat milk (plus 2 tbsp to help mix before eating)
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

Peanut Butter and Banana
1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 cup lowfat milk
2 tbsp PB2 (or regular peanut butter)
1 small banana, sliced
2 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

Cranberry Oats
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup lowfat milk
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
2 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

The method: In small tupperware (or mason jar), combine all ingredients, place in refrigerator overnight (about 8-10 hours). I have let mine sit in the refrigerator for up to 14 hours, and they have been just right. Take them out in the morning, mix 'em up and enjoy!

Notes: You may find that you need to add an additional 2 tbsp or so of milk to help mix. They are perfect right out of the refrigerator or after microwaving for 30 seconds and stirring up. Vanilla extract is a great way to add some sweetness without adding sugar, and adds another dimension to the flavor (perfect for the banana bread combo or for helping recreate the feeling of baked goods).

I am excited to try chia seeds, trying some yogurt in my mix, and trying some other fruits- I've been dreaming of a peaches and cream version... This works well with both fresh and dried fruits- I am going to try out frozen fruit next!


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