Breakfast

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

May  4, 2017

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.

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. 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.)

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.

Your favorite recipe to keep in the freezer? Tell us in the comments below!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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17 Comments

MMH October 19, 2017
I commented long ago but this is such a huge waste of time and effort and energy. You can microwave in seconds and there are such huge myths especially about steel cut oats. They all microwave in seconds.
 
jpriddy October 19, 2017
Better Homes and Garden's recipe for rolled oats: Stovetop: For four servings, in a medium saucepan bring 3-1/4 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling. Stir in 2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned). Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 
jpriddy October 19, 2017
Seriously? For heaven's sake, why not just cook oatmeal in the morning? Instead of fussing over a microwave, just make oatmeal in a pan. It doesn't take that long to cook oatmeal and you can be sipping coffee while you wait.
 
Katie G. August 18, 2017
Theoretically, could I let this defrost in a container on my way into work and then eat it cold at my desk?
 
ktr May 8, 2017
I make old fashioned oats for my kids most mornings. I measure the oats into bowls, add boiling water from my electric tea kettle and cover with a kitchen towel or a plate for a few minutes (usually while they get dressed and I get a cup of coffee). Any leftovers get covered with a silicone lid and put in the freezer and added to the next days oats.
 
Suzanne H. May 7, 2017
Alternatively, cook a week's worth and let cool. Then apportion each day's serving into a simple plastic sandwich bag and stick them all in fridge. Each morning you pull one out, stick it in a serving bowl and microwave for 45 seconds. Ta da!
 
kevin May 7, 2017
I wish I saw this yesterday. I just made a small batch of Irish steel cut oats for 1, taking 30 min on the stovetop. I could have made a larger batch and tried the freezing method. Provided the frozen puck can be reheated in a bowl in the microwave in 2 min or less, this would be a welcome timesaver. I resort to pouches of pre-flavored rolled oats during the week, microwaved, and they just aren't nearly as good. Have any readers actually tried this yet? None of the comments thus far indicate they actually tried this out. Wondering if adding a little extra water and cooking al dente would eliminate the need to add moisture during reconstitution in the microwave, which would also finish off the cooking.
 
Susan May 7, 2017
Brilliant!
 
MMH May 7, 2017
This is nice but so much more work than necessary. You can microwave old fashioned rolled oats. It's - couple minutes in the microwave longer than instant. I do it with steel cut oats. The recipe is on every box. I don't see any reason to do this.
 
MMH May 7, 2017
I forgot to add that the night before you can portion it all out. The next morning you add the liquid, microwave, add in what you want and eat. I use frozen fruit added after and the heat of the oatmeal brings it all to temperature. Less dishes, less mess, less time. The method in this recipe is a waste.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. May 7, 2017
This freezing method will work with steel cut oats, too. And it's great if you want to give your oats a little extra time and love in a way that wouldn't be possible on a weekday—https://food52.com/blog/19070-4-tips-for-better-more-satisfying-oatmeal; https://food52.com/recipes/21668-april-bloomfield-s-english-porridge; https://food52.com/recipes/40598-fermented-oatmeal-with-hazelnuts-figs-honey-black-pepper-and-buttermilk. You also don't have to measure *anything* at all in the morning (great for us truly groggy folks), and since you only have to add water, you can bring a couple pucks to the office microwave if you don't have time to eat at home.
 
WHB May 5, 2017
Such a fan of Sarah's kitchen adventures! One of many great ideas. Those brownies...
 
Ali N. May 4, 2017
I don't mean to belittle this concept in any way, but if I don't have time to make regular oatmeal, I'm unsure how standing over the stove defrosting a puck is going to help me in any way... I'm still a big fan of overnight oats in a takeout container to eat at my desk.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. May 4, 2017
It takes a lot less time to defrost a puck than to make oatmeal from scratch—and you can always use the microwave for a super-speedy option. But yes, I love overnight oats, too. So easy!
 
nonniedb May 7, 2017
I thought the same thing.
 
jpriddy October 19, 2017
EXACTLY!
 
Angela @. May 4, 2017
I like to freeze single servings of oatmeal with a little sugar and raisins (or other dried fruit) in a disposable paper coffee cup. I like having a homemade version of the shelf stable oatmeal cups sold at coffee shops and convenience stores. And, here in California I can throw the empty cup in our green waste/compost bin.