Oatmeal is staple breakfast food for many campers looking to start the day off right. Make sure your oatmeal is never boring with these cooking and topping tips!
Types of Oatmeal
Instant oatmeal is a popular backcountry breakfast item because it can be cooked in individual bowls or pre-portioned freezer ziplock bags. However, some prefer to use regular rolled oats or even thick and chewy steel cut oats, both of which must be cooked over a stove before eating.
Cooking Your Oatmeal
Check your oatmeal’s package for the recommended water-to-oat ratio. The amount needed can vary based on whether the type of oatmeal is quick-cooking or how thickly-cut the oats are.
Instant oatmeal: Put your oats and a pinch of salt in your sealable bowl or bag. Combine the oats with boiling water, stir, then close. You can even tuck your bowl or bag inside your jacket to keep warm while the oats cook! Wait a few minutes, then check for doneness and add more water if necessary.
Non-instant oatmeal: Bring your water to a boil, add a little salt to taste, and slowly stir in your oats. Make sure to stir frequently while cooking to prevent the oats from sticking to the bottom of the pot! Taste to test for doneness and add more water if necessary.
In both methods, adding a bit of salt helps add flavor to the oatmeal, even if you will be adding sweet toppings later.
Choose Your Toppings
There are endless options here - but make no mistake, the right toppings can mean the difference between a delicious and satisfying breakfast and a boring bowl of oats. For all of these, you can also stir in butter and dried milk before adding your toppings for a richer, creamier bowl, and add extra sugar to taste.
1. Banana Walnut
Add freeze-dried or dried bananas, walnuts, and brown sugar.
2. Peanut Butter Chocolate
Top oatmeal with a few tablespoons of peanut butter and chocolate chips. Or stir hot chocolate mix or cocoa powder into the oatmeal before topping with peanut butter.
3. Maple Spice
Start by stirring in cinnamon, nutmeg, and any other spices you’d like, such as ginger or cloves. Top with maple syrup and pumpkin seeds or other nuts.
4. Raspberry Chocolate Coconut
Top with freeze-dried raspberries, chocolate chips, and coconut flakes.
5. Apple Cinnamon
Stir in cinnamon and brown sugar and top with dried or freeze-dried apples and sliced almonds.
6. Strawberry Peanut Butter
Top with brown sugar, peanut butter, and freeze-dried strawberries.
Katherine is an Alaska Backpacking graduate and was the NOLS Social Media Coordinator. When she’s offline she enjoys running, backpacking, hiking, and cooking.