*Update as of July, 2012: We still enjoy steel cut oats for breakfast, and it still starts the evening before, but we have found that leaving them on warm in the crock pot overnight is actually a breeding ground for bacteria. We'd been doing it for two years before it ever made us sick. Now we soak two cups of oats with 1.5 TB of vinegar overnight, drain and rinse in the morning, add 3 cups of water again and cook until the desired consistency is obtained. This is safer and more nutritious! You can read why we do it this way here.*
We have for the most part stopped buying prepared cereals (except this week we couldn't resist the two boxes of Chex we got for $.25). I'm trying to make Granola on a regular basis, and our easy homemade bread makes delicious toast. However, the main thing that keeps us having a healthy breakfast on the cheap and with ease is making large quantities of oatmeal overnight in the crock pot about once a week.
There are many opinions about how this is best done. Just Google it and you'll find out. Everyone has a different idea of what the perfect consistency of oatmeal is, and there are many varieties of crock pots. I will share what works for our tastes and our pot! A lot of people put the oatmeal in a bowl inside the crock pot, but ours is too small to make more than an individual serving that way. The reason for doing that however, is that the oatmeal can overcook and get crusty overnight. We don't have that problem with the following method:
Overnight Oatmeal in the Crock Pot:
We use 4 cups of water to 1 cup of steel cut oats. We usually make 2 cups of oats at a time so that we can have leftovers for the week. (I buy steel cut oats by the pound at Whole Foods at $1.15/lb)
1. Heat 8 cups of water to boiling in our electric kettle, and pour it over the 2 cups of oats mixed with a dash of salt in the crock pot and close the lid.
2. We turn the crock pot on "warm". "Low" is not the same. This is key. It's not really cooking, just staying on warm. If your crock pot doesn't have this setting this method may not work for you.
3. Leave overnight and by morning the water is mostly absorbed. It will be a tad soupy, but we like this because otherwise when we reheat it during the week it will be too thick. We scoop out our portions and microwave it a bit if we want it a little thicker and then refrigerate the rest in individual size portions.
Don't have a crock pot?
Overnight Oatmeal on the Stove Top
1. Toast the two cups of steel cut oats in the bottom of large pot (optional), and mix in a dash of salt.
2. Pour 7-8 cups of boiling water over the oats, OR pour in 7-8 cups of water and bring to a boil.
3. Cover with lid and let sit overnight.
4. In the morning, turn on medium heat and let oatmeal cook until it has reached the desired consistency.