DIY Instant Oatmeal

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If you’ve been searching for homemade instant oatmeal recipes, well… there’s a facepalm in your future. As it turns out making your own instant oatmeal packets is even simpler than we’ve anticipated and is in fact, a no-brainer.

There isn’t any recipe to follow or any special ingredients to purchase, unless you really want to go full-on Martha Stewart. Which would be totally fine. For the sake of simplicity, you only need to know that “quick cooking” oatmeal is the stuff to use. Go ahead and pick up a canister of quick oats and turn it around- that’s right, read the instructions.  Ta-da! There’s your “recipe” right there. No need to grind part of your oats into powder or add coffee creamer, just grab some small baggies, your salt shaker, and a measuring cup. For a creamier finished product, simply cook the oats with milk instead of water. Same procedure applies. Is it really this easy? Yup.

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Now observe, the average instant oatmeal packet contains 1/3 cup of oats but the DIY serving is 1/2 cup. Nice, huh? You’re getting a better deal already. Personally though, my own savings wasn’t spectacular. I purchase store brand oatmeal that is already a discount over name brand and find that the comparison per serving price isn’t anything to write home about. On the left you see the DIY and there’s the store bought instant on the right. You get a little more for about a penny less. There are, however, a lot less ingredients in your DIY version.

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I measure out 1/2 C portions into snack size baggies and stuff the ready to use packets back into the canister the oats came in for easy storage. You could dress the canister up pretty and leave it on your kitchen counter like this one found at www.artcraftideas.net. Oatmeal canisters are really handy!

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Oatmeal Cookie Bars

I bake with oatmeal quite a bit. Chiefly because it’s cheap and lasts a long time in the pantry though also for it’s health benefits. During our baby years while there were infants to nurse, I’d eat plenty of oats everyday to help boost my milk supply. Now, I like to feed oatmeal to my kids in their snacks.

This recipe is one I make frequently because it’s quick to throw together and my husband in particular loves it. I adapted itIMG_0359_1 from a Holly Clegg recipe for low fat Oatmeal Cookies, making changes for convenience and our own personal taste preferences. This cookie bar has a creamy, chewy center and crispy exterior. It’s great for dipping in milk or to eat crumbled over ice cream. We also have them as a quick breakfast bar on the go or for a filling snack. I make a batch of these for my family every weekend to keep on hand for the school/work week. To change things up or for a special occasion I’ll add chocolate chips. This can also be made into a birthday cookie by baking into a pizza pan prepared with nonstick baking spray.

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Ingredients

  • 2/3 C oil (I prefer canola, use what you like)
  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 or 4 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C all purpose flour (or 1 1/2 C whole wheat & 1 1/2 C AP flour)
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned or quick cooking oatmeal

Method

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare a jelly roll pan with parchment paper overlapping the sides. You could also just spray the pan with baking spray but parchment allows for easy removal once the bars are cooked and cooled as well as much easier clean up when it’s time to do those dishes.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In your mixing bowl combine the oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir until dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Stir in the oats.

Drop by heaping spatula or spoonfuls onto your prepared baking pan, dispersing evenly. This dough is a bit thick & sticky so rather than dropping the whole bowlful into the middle it helps to drop in little bits all over the pan and work the blobs together as evenly as possible. Once you’ve got the cookie dough spread across the pan place into the oven and bake for 18 minutes. Once baked remove to a cooling rack and cool in the pan. If baking with parchment, allow the bars to set a few minutes then you can pull them out by grasping the paper and remove to the cooling rack. Otherwise allow to cool in pan. Once cool, cut into bars and enjoy!

An Open Letter to Moms Complaining About Public Assistance

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This was taken the month we started collecting food stamps back in 2008. We had no idea what financial strain lay ahead.

To Whom It May Concern:

Your posts on Facebook and Twitter (complaining about the hassles of getting free food) are hard to read because it’s kinda awkward to watch another person make an ass of themselves, even in writing. I hear where you’re coming from and suspect you just don’t know any better. Maybe you were spoiled as a child and are self-centered as a result. Perhaps you’re spoiled still as is evidenced by the fact that you post from your smartphone and spend a sizable chunk of your income on manicures and cigarettes while complaining about your unfair circumstances.

We can all sympathize- to a point- with whatever it is that’s wrong with you which makes you act this way. It’s understandable that you have a character flaw but may not be aware of it. How could you be? Such flaws generally cause a person to believe themselves infallible. Your constant need for attention practically forces you to broadcast all your perceived troubles on Social Media in shameless attempts to garner sympathy and attention. You’re clearly unaware of how your whiny indignation is annoying to those of us living in similar circumstances yet still managing to behave like responsible adults. We’re over here wincing at your loudmouth rants about a system which you benefit from and should be grateful for yet somehow are the opposite of grateful: entitled. You’re a mess of your own making. Please stop. Big girl panties, now.

One can only assume you have no idea how low class and selfish your public complaints make you sound. So, from someone who understands, I want to break it down from one broke Mom to another in the essence of Sisterhood, but mostly because you’re making the rest of us look bad. Oh yes, I’ve been in your shoes and can relate. You’ll find no self righteous condemnation here, my friend.

My husband & I received “Food Stamps” from June 2008 to just this past spring, 2014. We still participate in WIC for our son and each of our three kids are on Government provided health insurance. I’m what some people refer to as a “Welfare Mom”, though we’ve never actually collected Welfare, ever. The recession hit us hard since my husband was, at the time, working in new home construction and we had just bought a home 2 years prior. We fell hard, crashed & burned but learned a lot and are thankful for the wisdom and fortification that hard times gave us. So I have a lot of experience jumping through the hoops involved in benefiting from Public Assistance.

After all the years we’ve collected Foodstamps & WIC, I’ve come to appreciate how much red tape was involved in collecting those benefits. I figured all that free help was worth the hours it took to get someone on the phone-being disconnected over and over- or the hours spent waiting my turn at the DSHS office with two toddlers in tow only to find out I was in the wrong place or that I had the wrong paperwork. I decided to be thankful for what we received even though there were constant mistakes and hassle working against me to take advantage of that much needed help. My attitude was, “This is how I work for it”. After a while I got pretty good at navigating the system and it’s pitfalls.

Reality check: Be thankful. It would be in your interest to stop complaining about the hassles you endure in the process of receiving free assistance. Trust me, people will pay more attention to what you say- a benefit that surely appeals to you- if you sound less like an undeserving ingrate and more like you’re trying to make the best of it. I mean, we get it, but nobody’s impressed by your “hardship” so buck-up. Say thank you to a government employee and mean it. They’re overworked, understaffed and being chewed out by people like you who seem to think they’ve called Amazon Customer Service rather than DSHS. Funding cuts always seem to hit the programs we rely on most and so their job cannot be easy. It’s unfortunate for the un-manicured, unselfish, hardworking folks who are also collecting benefits to be painted with the same brush as you. However, due to that unfortunate character flaw which causes you to behave this way, I suspect this advice will fall on deaf ears. One can only try.

Warmest Wishes,

from Someone Who’s Been There