Apparently You Can Microwave Oatmeal

Oatmeal: It is ridiculously cheap, nutritious, and the kids love it. (I can take it or leave it myself, but they will eat it for any meal of the day.) It keeps forever, so I can have a virtually limitless supply in my pantry. So far, an ideal food.

The problem was that it is a pain to cook rolled oats. Takes several minutes on the stove, and who wants to heat their house up like that during the summer?

Now, there are directions on the box for making oatmeal in the microwave. I tried this years ago and it exploded all over my microwave. I filed microwave oatmeal under “fail” and moved on mentally. I made it on the stovetop or not at all.

When we visited Grandma FP this summer, I returned from vacation (thanks, Mom!) and was surprised to find that she had been feeding Big Brother boatloads of oatmeal. My mom’s house is usually more the kind of establishment where one finds packets of instant oatmeal and those pre-shaped cookies that you just separate and bake. While I have known Grandma FP (who is, incidentally, four feet ten inches tall) to rent a drum sander and refinish wood floors, I can’t picture her standing at the stove stirring oatmeal.

Evidently the oatmeal had entered the house for a cookie-making project and she wanted to use it up by feeding it to my tots. So she first tried the microwave and had the same experience I did. Oatmeal city.

But she was not as easily deterred as me and pressed on, experimenting with trial and error until she had it down pat. Evidently the secret is to use a container that holds about 4 times as much water as you are using. So a single serving of oatmeal (half a cup of oats to one cup water) can be comfortably prepared in a one-quart Pyrex measuring cup, should you have such a thing.

Turns out the directions SAY to use a one-quart dish. I don't think that was on the box I used when I painted my microwave with oatmeal.

Turns out the directions SAY to use a one-quart dish. I don’t think that was on the box I used when I painted my microwave with oatmeal.

I do not, so at my house I just use a large stoneware or Pyrex serving bowl. (I have found that I can make up to three servings this way–I’m not kidding, the dudes dig oatmeal.) After it’s cooked, I add a dab of maple syrup and plenty of cinnamon, or perhaps peanut butter and honey, and if it is thick enough, I add a little milk to help it cool off.


For some reason, I have three of these fancy serving bowls. I use them for… microwaving things.


Friends, what a revelation! No more standing at the stove stirring! Electricity savings! More importantly, oatmeal has entered our very short list of “emergency child meals” alongside frozen chicken nuggets and cold cheese sandwiches. Fewer chicken nuggets down their gullets = win for health. It’s easy enough that a babysitter can prepare it, fast enough to whip up for lunch even when I pick up Little Brother at 11 and have to be at work at 1:15. When I get a thermos for Big Brother, I’ll be able to pack it in his school lunch. 

I know lots of food snobs look down on their microwave. For me, it is an essential part of my efforts to eat almost exclusively home-prepared food. 

Do you get much use out of your microwave? What are your fallback meals?


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

8 responses to “Apparently You Can Microwave Oatmeal”

  1. Amy K (RelaxedGal on the MMM forums) says :

    I *love* microwave oatmeal. I use the big canister of quick oats, one of our big soup bowls (3 cup I think, rather than a full quart) and slightly less water. The big bowl keeps the oatmeal beast from overtaking my microwave and I can just eat out of it and toss it in the dishwasher.

    My other favorite kitchen thing for avoiding more dishes: the scale. Right now I keep a half cup measure in the oatmeal canister, but for other cereals & the milk when I want a proper serving (e.g. when I’m following Weight Watchers) I set the bowl on the scale and weigh my cereal, tare, weigh my milk. My husband does this every morning and I am *so glad* I don’t have to deal with his measuring cup every day, even if it’s just in the dishwasher. Fewer dishes = happier me!

    • frugalparagon says :

      Love the idea of a scale! We don’t have one but I’ve always kind of wanted one for measuring flour and whatnot.

      Alas, obviously I can’t let my three- and four-year-old eat out of the serving bowl, so that’s TWO more bowls right there. Then, in addition to their oatmeal, they often want yogurt or Cheerios–in ANOTHER bowl. (At that point, I often put my foot down.)

  2. Autumn says :

    I’d get along great with the FP brothers – I have oatmeal almost every morning. Lately I’ve just been going the overnight oats route – I just throw some oats, chia seeds, greek yogurt, milk, maybe some berries in a mason jar at night and enjoy the next morning.

    I’ll definitely try them in the microwave when it starts getting cold and want something warm in the mornings. My previous hot oatmeal prep was to wait until I got to work and add hot water from the coffee maker to some instant oats and just wait for 20-30 minutes. Not ideal, but good enough and it prevented break room oatmeal explosions.

    • Frugal Paragon says :

      They love the overnight, too! I use homemade yogurt for it, which is thinner–I need little or no milk. Touch of strawberry jam. But I don’t always plan that far ahead :-). Especially when I work till 8.

  3. Ashley says :

    Goodness, yes you can make oats in the microwave. I use an 18oz fiesta ware jumbo cup for an individual serving (1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup water, microwaved for two min). Another tip put the oats in the bowl first, water goes on top. If you do it the other way around you have a mess on your hands. Also if you like your oats soupier add hot water from the tap after cooking in the microwave. +1 on a measuring cup in the oats canister. Less dishes and it makes the morning go smoother. Also, you can microwave two bowls at a time if they fit in your microwave.

  4. Monica says :

    I have been doing this for years for my kids! I don’t measure at all as I find the whole recipe fairly forgiving – just pour some oats in a bowl, cover with milk (figure the kids can use extra milk in their diets) and microwave for two minutes. Then I add some cinnamon, something sweet (brown sugar or maple syrup or honey) and maybe raisins, maybe some vanilla, stir and put it back in for a mother minute or till it is done. Then I add a bit more milk to cool it down so they can eat it right away!

  5. Mel says :

    You can keep cooked oats for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. So I make a batch (4 days worth) on the stove top one morning, I eat 1 serve that morning and place the rest in an airtight container in the fridge then for the following 3 days I just have to put a serve in a bowl add a dash of water, youghurt or milk and heat in the microwave and add toppings (honey frozen fruit etc) its quick its the texture I like and no mess 🙂

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