|Grande Soy Mocha, no whip. To go, please.|
But I know there are a few of you like me. A few of you who insist on eating oatmeal almost every morning. A few of you who hate the thought of starting your day without some comforting porridge, even on the road. A few of you who don’t want to spend a vacation day with a stomach ache because you didn’t get your daily dose of soluble fiber.
Or maybe some of you just want to save some money while traveling. Every dollar adds up, especially when you’re eating out for every single meal.
This post is for all of you. You can have your morning oatmeal. In fact, many of the tips below have been personally used by me within the last month (and I provided photos for evidence!). Here’s how I make it happen:
1. If you’re staying in a hotel, they might have continental breakfast, and they might serve oatmeal. If you don’t want to leave it to chance, call them ahead of time and ask. Some places might just offer packets of instant oatmeal. However, I have stayed in hotels that provide a massive heated container of unflavored oatmeal! They usually have a few “traditional” mix-ins to the side, like cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins, but to that, I say “bullocks.” Look around: there’s probably some fruit, peanut butter, fruit juices, yogurts, and jams around somewhere. Look at the condiments for the bagels and toast. Look at the toppings at the waffle bar. Look at the coffees and teas! I’m usually less picky about the quality of ingredients at this point because it’s a special circumstance; I mean, I’m already turning down the nummy-smelling waffles, so I want to make sure my oatmeal doesn’t taste like water! How about stirring in a splash of grape juice, cutting up an apple, and topping it all with some peanut butter? Get creative. Make all the other guests jealous.
2. If you’re staying in a hotel, and they have continental breakfast, but they don’t have oatmeal (and you’ve called to confirm that), don’t fret! Bring your own! Yeah, I said it. Pack some unflavored instant oatmeal packets (Country Choice Organic makes instant oatmeal packets with FLAX!) and bring one down to breakfast with you. It’s standard for hotels to have hot water available so guests can make tea. Take a cereal bowl, dump the oatmeal packet, and pour in some hot water. Give it a stir. Now, scour the place for mix-ins and toppings (see above)! Oh, and you can also save a little money and portion out 1/2 cup of instant oats into baggies instead of buying the packets.
3. If you’re staying in a hotel, and they don’t have continental breakfast (bummer!), pack some unflavored instant oatmeal packets, and, if possible, additional shelf-stable ingredients to mix in. I recommend bananas and peanut butter and a small container of cocoa powder. Or nuts and apples. Or single-serving packs of applesauce. Every hotel room has a microwave these days, right? …Right?
4. As long as you have access to hot water or a microwave, prepare your own instant oatmeal packets. In a sealable bag or container, combine 1/2 cup instant oats, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp PB2 (the powdered peanut butter), 1 tsp flax seed, a pinch of salt, and a handful of nuts and/or dried fruit of choice (dried apples would be amazing!). If you think you’ll need it, add some brown sugar, too. In the morning, pour in a bowl, add hot water (or microwave with water for 1-2 minutes), and stir. Boom! You’re a rockstar.
5. If you’re staying at a friend’s house, and you know the plan is to eat cereal in the morning, kindly inform them that you wish to prepare your own oatmeal. The way I go about this is to be super lighthearted about it. Make sure the implication is that you are an oat-obsessed addict, and not that you’re “above” their food; the last thing you want to do is offend your hosts. Laugh at yourself and let them know that you just “GOTTA have your daily oats, hee hee!” 😉 Either bring your own mix-ins or politely request to use some ingredients from his/her kitchen. I often have my friends’ parents tell me that I’m “welcome to anything in the kitchen” before I even ask. Still, they’re being super nice for you, so return the favor: be stingy with ingredients (don’t use up all their peanut butter), be as neat as possible, and clean up after yourself. Say thank you.
6. Another option for the above situation is to offer to make oatmeal for you and your friend(s)! This happened to me once. On Thanksgiving morning, I made oatmeal for Allison and her mom. It was the least I could do since they were A) welcoming me into their family for Thanksgiving, and B) allowing me to use ALL of their ingredients (I didn’t even bring my own oatmeal). They were thrilled, but they also like oatmeal, so…you have to take that into account. 🙂 [The oatmeal below is the pb+banana porridge I made at Allison’s house! The stuff on top? Cranberry Sauce.]
7. If you’re camping in an RV, you probably have a kitchen. Plan ahead, pack the ingredients you’ll need, and make your oatmeal as usual. I do this all the time. My mom makes pancakes and whatnot for the rest of the family, and I eat oatmeal. Nobody’s offended because they know I’m an oatmeal-loving psycho. Not a big deal. When it comes to packing ingredients, I just bring some oats, bananas, and peanut butter. My mom already keeps cinnamon and vanilla extract in the camper to make french toast. I either bring rolled oats and prepare it on the stove, or pack quick oats and make it in the microwave. Either works. [See the picture below? That’s Apple-Cherry Oatmeal, and it was made and photographed at a campground! Those are our camping bowls and utensils!]
8. If you’re tent camping or using an RV that doesn’t have a kitchen, use the campfire or a portable hot plate to heat up some water. If using this method, make sure you use quick or instant oats. Use the same flavoring ideas offered in #3, 4, and 7. Chances are high (if you don’t have kitchen access) that your group will be lighting up the grill or campfire for breakfast anyway, so this shouldn’t be a major burden. If it is, see idea #9!
9. Forego cooking oatmeal in the morning and pack granola or oatmeal muffins instead. See my recipes for healthy oatmeal muffins, or check out my Pinterest board for granola recipes! I really recommend the muffins. They are basically baked oatmeal, and my digestive system can vouch for the quality. Muffins normally make me sick, but these muffins soothe me just like stove-top oatmeal does. This is an excellent option if you are road-tripping or any other situation when you know you won’t have easy access to a kitchen.
10. If your crew is going out to eat for breakfast, do not fret. Chances are (at least in my experience), the place you go to will offer oatmeal. I mean, c’mon, even Perkins has oatmeal. In fact, find places that you know offer oatmeal, and suggest those to your group (don’t be pushy; remember, it’s not the end of the world). If you get your oatmeal from a standard diner (or a chain like Perkins or IHOP), they’ll probably just offer you milk/cream and raisins/brown sugar. I ask for raisins and nothing else. Then, I stir in the jam and peanut butter that’s just sitting on the tables. Some diners also have awesome syrups, like blueberry, and I make use of that as well. [The picture below is the steel-cut oatmeal with stewed apples at Flour in Cambridge, Mass. YUM.]
10.5 Just go to Starbucks. (or Caribou. Or Au Bon Pain. Or Jamba Juice. Or whatever.) Do what you need to do. I’ve done it. I’ve been there. I won’t judge. 🙂
If you’ve read all those ideas and still don’t see an answer, you should probably give up and just eat whatever is provided to you. 🙂 I can tell you from experience that all of the above options work in a pinch and satisfy me, even if it’s not as decadent as my typical morning creations. If not, lighten up and do the best you can. Enjoy that bagel or stack of pancakes. Your oatmeal will be waiting for you when you return. 🙂