The words, "hearty breakfast," were first employed as a phrase centuries ago by Shakespeare to describe oatmeal. Well, that's a lie: the words were first employed by one of Shakespeare's lesser known contemporaries, and then he used it and everyone thought, "If Shakespeare says it, it must be true."
For my youth, oatmeal had always meant brown packets of a pre-made mix that I pour water over, put in the microwave, and eat. It was serviceable then, it's a bit disappointing now. The mixes are never quite what I want, and it all just seems a bit dull. But you can fix that, because it is trivial to make a packet of oatmeal of your very own devising.
There are three ways to get a pouch of microwavable oatmeal mixed with sugars, spices, and potentially dried fruits: you can buy the packet pre-made (the way Shakespeare did), you can make it packet-by-packet, or you can make it in a big batch and divvy it up.
If you're making packet-by-packet, which is fine for up to 10 or so packets, then you can use volume measurements for everything. You get a little assembly going, measure out each ingredient, put it in the bag, seal (not the aquatic kind), and you're done.
If you're making in a big batch, then you want to weigh all of your ingredients, mix thoroughly in a big bowl, then divvy with a measuring cup into bags. The first time you make a batch, it's probably worthwhile to scoop out a 1/4 cup and fix that up before you divvy everything so you can taste it and adjust things if necessary. You don't want to adjust every morning because you had too little sugar; that defeats the purpose.
A note on oats: old-fashioned rolled oats are fine. They take 3-4 minutes to microwave, and are much tastier and heartier than the instant kind. Plus, they're useful for granola, in case you decide that you've had enough oatmeal for a while. All you get from instant oats are a couple of minutes shaved off the microwaving time and suckier oatmeal.
Store the oatmeal in a small zip-top bag.
In the morning, pour into a bowl, stir in the appropriate amount of water or milk, and microwave for 3-5 minutes, being sure to pause to stir halfway through.
If you want a slightly tastier treat, put a bit of butter on the top and stir it in. If you are trying to force yourself to eat oatmeal for the health benefits and think that a bit of butter will kill you, just put the butter on. Not a tablespoon or anything; maybe a teaspoon. It will make the flavor significantly better and won't kill you. The benefits of the oatmeal go beyond "not having any fat in it." That's how Shakespeare ate it. Shakespeare loved butter.
If you use milk instead of water, you probably won't even be tempted to add butter.
The recipe below is terribly basic, and is meant more of a starting point than a final recipe. It's a brown sugar and cinnamon recipe, because that's a version I'm fond of. You could use a range of spices, dried fruits, some nuts, or whatever strikes your fancy and can be stored in a plastic bag in the pantry.
The Mix (one packet)
- 1/2 cup (52g) Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1.5 Tbl (20g) Brown sugar
- 1/16 Tsp (pinch) salt
- 1/8 Tsp (dash) cinnamon
The Day of
- 1 Packet Oatmeal
- 1 Cup Milk or Water
To make the mix, measure out the ingredients into zip-top bags and set aside for a cold, rainy morning. Or just a morning when you're hungry.
To make the oatmeal, stir in a bowl the mix and the liquid and microwave for 3-6 minutes, stirring once or twice. Time to cook will depend on the microwave, how many bowls you're making at once, and the temperature of the liquid. Also probably the age of the oats, to some degree. Most of the liquid should be absorbed into the oats when it is done.