Instant Oatmeal Recipes – a perfect camping breakfast!

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Do you like secrets?  Do you also like oatmeal?  Well, for all you oatmeal-eating, secret-lovers, this one’s for you:  Did you know you can stop buying those overly processed and overly-sweetened pre-packaged instant oatmeals and instead start making healthy instant oatmeal right in your own kitchen?

No worries, it’s easy!  You can do this.  These healthy instant oatmeal recipes below are quick, very adaptable, and easily transportable for single-serving meals.

Sure, you can mix up a big batch to keep in your home kitchen.  But, the true appeal of these oatmeal recipes shines at the campground and on the trail when you’re looking for healthy, quick, and lightweight foods.

a cup of instant oatmeal at the campsite


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Try these instant oatmeals for camping and hiking

Really, what’s nicer than a hearty, healthy, hot cup of oatmeal on a cool camping morning?  Sure, you’d probably rather have your mittens wrapped around a steaming mug of salted caramel mocha with soy milk… but, remember, you’re roughin’ it, remember?

Also, if family camping is your thing, you might want to join the Take Them Outside Newsletter. Not only will you get great camping packing lists, you’ll also get a weekly mini kick in the butt to help you raise a happy outdoor family!

A woman sitting on the ground eating oatmeal. Text written on the photo points to various things in the photo like her, her oatmeal, and the hiking kitchen

5 reasons these instant oatmeals are the perfect food to take camping

  1. You can fill them with calorie and nutrient packed dried fruits, seeds, and nuts.
  2. Homemade instant oatmeal is relatively inexpensive.
  3. You can easily package them individually into single-serve containers.
  4. They’re not full of preservatives and such.
  5. And, there’s more to them than sugar (which, let’s all agree, is the case when it comes to our good ol’ Quaker Oats, Instant Oatmeal Packs)

Family Camping Tip: Fill small mason jars with your instant oatmeal ingredients for single-servings.  Then, just add the boiling water directly to the jars.  When the oatmeal’s all eaten up, screw the lid back on and worry about washing them at home where you can throw them in the dishwasher.

Although, this tip works best for short camping trips.  You probably don’t want those used jars to go weeks before a wash!

homemade mason jars full of camping oatmeals

Overnight hiking tip:  Assemble a few servings worth into a larger ziplock bag, then serve out individual portions into your enamel mug in the morning.  This healthy instant oatmeal is also handy to have on hand as an extra, emergency, ‘oops, we ran out of stuff to eat’ food.

The healthy instant oatmeal recipe

These oatmeals are very forgiving.  Add a little more of this, don’t add that… it’s up to you and your family’s preferences.

Here’s the basic recipe:  take some quick oats, add a bit of sugar, toss in a dash of something tasty, add a handful of fruit, nuts and seeds…. And voila!

An oat note: 

There are 3 main types of oats – Regular, Quick, and Instant.  We prefer ‘quick’ oats for their texture when making these.  While the package instructions for quick oats is 1-5 minutes on the stove or in the microwave, we find just adding boiling water and letting it sit for 5-8 minutes works just as well.

If you don’t want to wait that long (or you kids can’t handle waiting that long), then go for the instant oats.

Before buying your oatmeal, read the labels and you may need to try a few varieties to find your preference.  Here’s a quick explanation on the different type of oats and their cooking times by Bob’s Red Mill.

Ingredients for one single serving of cinnamon raisin instant oatmeal:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp dried raisins
  • 2 – 3 tbsp broken or chopped dried apple chips
  • 1-2 tbsp of seeds and nuts (almond slices, pecan or walnut pieces, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds)
dried apples, dried fruit, oats, sugar - ingredients for instant oatmeal - spread out on a wooden cutting board

How to make camping instant oatmeal:

Just throw it all into a jar and give it a shake!

For individual servings you’ll need small jars or baggies.  When car camping and at home, we prefer to use short, wide mouth mason jars.  When backpacking, we use snack-sized ziplock baggies or make an over-sized batch and dole out smaller servings into enamel cups or bowls.

individual baggies of homemade instant oatmeal
Individual baggies of our instant oatmeal

You can even use your kid’s lunch thermos for camping trips.  Just toss the dry oatmeal mix into the thermos, and add the hot water directly into the thermos when breakfast rolls around.  It’s handy and the thermos will also help keep the oatmeal hotter longer on cold mornings!

Here’s a little clip of my little and I getting some camping oatmeals ready for a trip.  You can see, it’s a pretty relaxed recipe!

How will you cook the instant oatmeals at the campsite?

Really, this is up to you.  You’ll need to boil water somehow.  Either in an enamel kettle or pot over campfire or camp stove, or with an electric kettle (if you’re lucky enough to have power).

Once you’ve got hot water, pour some over the oatmeal, stir, let it sit, and keep it warm by covering it or wrapping a tea towel around the bowl or cup.  Add more water as needed.

boiling water over a campfire with camp kettles
Boiling water over the campfire

A few homemade oatmeal packet recipe variations

I’ll be honest and tell you that the standard raisin, apple, cinnamon, nut mix is my family’s favorite.  However, we have tried these following variations as well, some with more success than others!

What about powdered milk?  If milk is your thing, then go ahead and dump in some powdered milk too.  You’ll increase the calcium content and up the creaminess.  We’re a ‘milk alternative’ family, so we don’t use it. However, you can also purchase powdered soy and coconut milk from specialty stores.

Peanut butter, really?

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dried powdered peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp dried berry mix (cherries, craisins, blueberries)
  • Or 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 – 2 tbsp nuts and / or seeds (almond slices, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)

(Please note, this one is only appreciated by my kids… meaning my husband I really don’t enjoy it!)

Apricots and Ginger are yummy!

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp shaved or thinly sliced dried crystallized ginger (a few dashes of powdered ginger works too)
  • 2 tbsp chopped dried apricots
  • 1 – 2 tbsp nuts and / or seeds (almond slices, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds)

(please note, this one is only appreciated by the adults… meaning the kids hate this one!)

A Chocolate Breakfast for Champions

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A few chopped, dried strawberries or cherries
  • 1 tbsp tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 – 2 tbsp nuts and / or seeds (pecan or walnut pieces, almond slices, hazelnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds)
  • Cocoa nibs if you have them

(instead of adding sugar and cocoa separately, you can also use hot chocolate powder!)

Tropical Party

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp shredded dried coconut
  • 2 – 3 tbsp chopped dried mango, pineapple, papaya, and / or apricots
  • 1 – 2 tbsp nuts and / or seeds (almond slices, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)

The oddball couple of Blueberry & Coconut

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp shredded dried coconut
  • 2 tbsp dried sweetened blueberries
  • 1 – 2 tbsp nuts and / or seeds (almond slices, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)

If you’d like a few more instant oatmeal recipes to try, Wholefully has 8 variations worth taking a look at.  I really like the idea of her cranberry orange oatmeal!

Did I mention these are also fantastic grab and go office and school lunches?  As long as you have access to boiling water, you can make these up wherever you are.  Just make sure your containers are leak proof so you don’t get oatmeal juices leaking into your bag after you’re done eating.  Yucky!

Next time you’re heading out to the campground, give these healthy instant oatmeal recipes a try.  Maybe you’re not a crunchy mom, but it’s okay to do crunchy mom things every now and then!  And, really, they’re good! These homemade oatmeal packets are cheaper and healthier than the pre-packaged ones.  Sure, they take a little more time to prepare, but it’s worth it, I promise!

Other Camping Reads you’ll want to check out now:

Other camping food ideas:

homemade instant oatmeal in a cup at the campsite
A mason jar of oatmeal on a wooden picnic table


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