After reading a New York Times article on food and inflation, I have to admit to scratching my head in amazement. That inspired this post on oats.
A bagel and coffee from a street vendor for $5. A pint of blueberries for $8. This is what the article said regarding inflation in New York. Is this truly everyone’s reality—how representative is it? It is not what I pay, or anyone around me pays. This is not meant to discount the difficulties people face in paying rent and food bills. It is a matter of looking at our choices to minimize the pain and control what we can.
If there is a choice of a delicious, healthy, no-cook no-heat, 40-second breakfast of whole grains, milk of your choice, and fruit that costs $1.45 to $1.60 (45 cents to 58 cents without fruit) OR a bagel with cream cheese (can also be yum) for $3.50, what would you choose?
All the people who have worked in our home bring a cooler and thermos with their lunches, snacks, and coffee from home. They bring the bagel with cream cheese or bread with ham and cheese from home. While the coffee is brewing, they put their food together. Lunch is sometimes dinner leftovers or a sandwich with fruit and yogurt. So this is a matter of exploring choices and choosing wisely depending on the situation, which can be tough.
So here is an example of exploring healthy, inexpensive choices. Soak oats in milk, any milk, cover and chill overnight. That is it. There is beauty in simplicity. The breakfast above may look expensive, but it is cheaper than a bagel.
Here is the math:
2 lbs/32 oz organic, gluten-free oats which is 20 servings ($3.99 at my local Trader Joe’s—$9.99 at Whole Foods, $5.99 at Stop & Shop). Cost per serving: 20 cents (Trader Joe’s)
64 oz/half gallon unsweetened soy milk at my local Whole Foods—$4.69, 0.65 cups of milk mixed with 0.5 cups of oats. Cost per serving: 38 cents
64 oz regular whole milk at my local Whole Foods—$2.99. Cost per 0.65 cup serving: 25 cents
Cost of fruit and nuts: in my home it varies and depends on whether it is dried, fresh, or a combination. and depends on the season, fruit and where you shop). Around me, Trader Joe’s has the best value and freshness as far as nuts and dried fruit go. Cost per serving: 50 cents to $1.
Cost per serving of a healthy, nutritious breakfast: 45 cents to 58 cents
Cost per serving with fruit: $1.45 to $1.60. (Compare that with $3.50 for a bagel from a cart and compare the nutritional value.) Even if more than one serving is needed, it can still beat the price of a bagel, be more nutritious, and potentially more filling with the whole grain fiber.
Time to buy bagel: maybe 2 minutes if no line
Time to mix oats and milk: 2 minutes but this breakfast can be made for 3-5 days. That averages to 40 seconds a day for 6 servings (plus a minute or two each day to chop fruit, if using). There is NO COOKING, and there is just one bowl, cup, and spoon involved in the preparation every three days so there is minimal use of time, water, and energy.
Here is the “recipe”, if one is needed:
1. 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2. 4 cups cold milk of your choice
3. 2-3 tablespoons optional dried fruit (cranberries, 3 chopped dates, figs, apricots, nuts, etc.)
4. Diced seasonal fresh fruit of your choice and nuts
Optional: 2-3 tablespoons chia seeds, 2-3 tablespoons flax meal (or to taste), and optional splash of rose water or orange extract
1. Mix oats and milk in large bowl—mix well. Cover and chill overnight in the fridge. The next day, stir vigorously for a few seconds to make them creamy. Add fruit/nuts and enjoy, or pack to go.
The oats just get creamier each day, with each stirring. So make it for 3-5 days. On a hot day, it is also my perfect lunch.
Tip: If using flax and chia, I like to heat the whole mixture in the microwave for 2 minutes for the chia to bloom. Stir well. Let it sit overnight. Or if one cannot wait, heat another minute, stir well, and enjoy.
Note: A fruit compote made with seasonal fruit such as berries or frozen bags of mixed berries or peaches is a wonderful addition. In our home, we also love adding orange extract or rose water to boost the flavor. Almond extract is good. Other additions we enjoy are chia seeds, flax meal, hemp hearts.
The math is compelling!