BreakfastHow to CookMake-Ahead MealsTips & Techniques

Freeze Your Oatmeal in a Muffin Tin Today, Sleep in Tomorrow

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Mornings are an exercise in opportunity cost, with every action coming at the expense of another: fry an egg or take a shower; go for a walk or sleep for 30 more minutes; change out of this truly absurd outfit or make it to work on time.

And on no weekday morning do I choose to soak oats for 10 minutes or babysit them over the stove. I'll take cold cereal every time.

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But wait! With a little foresight (what's that?), a warm bowl of hearty oatmeal on a weekday is possible: Make a big batch of your favorite recipe ahead of time, then freeze it in a lightly-greased muffin tin (if you've got Silicone muffin tin, the next step will be even easier).

This is not a weird-ass muffin: It's a frozen puck of oatmeal, ready to be your breakfast.
This is not a weird-ass muffin: It's a frozen puck of oatmeal, ready to be your breakfast. Photo by James Ransom

Pop the pucks of oats out of the tin once they have frozen solid. (I used a knife to lever them out; if you use a silicone tray, you'll be able to push them out.) Transfer to an airtight container (plastic bag, jar, what have you) and keep them stashed in the freezer.

In the morning, place an oatmeal cup or two in a pot with a tablespoon or so of water (or milk). Put the pot over low heat and cook gently, using a spoon to ease the lump to looseness and adding more liquid as necessary. (You can also defrost your pucks in a covered bowl in the microwave: Cook in 1-minute increments, adding liquid as needed.)

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A few minutes later, ta-da! It's like you've made your own instant oatmeal—but instead of coming from a paper pouch, it came from your freezer.

A tip or two:

  • You can sweeten and flavor your oatmeal ahead of time, but consider keeping it plain: That way, you can doctor it up depending on how you feel that morning—honey one day, fig jam the next.
  • We made a double batch of April Bloomfield's English Porridge and it yielded 18 oatmeal muffin cups.
  • In a standard muffin tin, each divot holds 1/2 cup of stuff (each jumbo tin bucket holds 1 cup), so keep that in mind when you're deciding much oatmeal to make and defrost.
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April Bloomfield's English Porridge

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Serves 2 to 3
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus a few generous splashes
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Maldon, or other flaky sea salt (if using finer salt, start with 1/2 teaspoon and add to taste)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • About 2 tablespoons sugar (maple, brown, or white) or maple syrup
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Your favorite recipe to keep in the freezer? Tell us in the comments below!