When I was a kid, oatmeal was boring. I only started to appreciate it as an adult because instant oatmeal is fast and filling to eat before work when you're not a morning person. Then Quaker came out with the "Real Medleys", which are better, but still have that chalky instant aftertaste, and are a bit pricy for what they offer.
Then my friend SR posted this recipe on Facebook, and I saw how much better homemade oatmeal mixes could be. It's so much more flavorful, but has to be refrigerated and tastes best when eaten right away. So, not the way to make a big batch of fruit, nuts and fiber that can be stored in my cubicle and eaten before work. Back to the Internets for more research!
I lucked out and found this recipe right away. Now, I have to confess that I can't really care about quick oats vs steel-cut oats, so I just used whole quick oats instead of grinding the oats in a food processor. I tried toasting the oats and not toasting them, but didn't see much of a difference. Your milage may vary. The amount of brown sugar wasn't sufficient for my tastes, so you might want to experiment with that.
I started out with coconut flakes, walnuts, craisins, freeze-dried blueberries, and banana chips. The banana chips didn't get soft enough even after soaking first, so I took them off my list. Luckily, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and even Target have lots of options for freeze-dried fruit.
DIY instant oatmeal. Clockwise from top: blueberry, strawberry, mango and raspberry.
After some trial and error, I found the easiest way to make a batch is to mix the oatmeal, flaxseed, chia seed and brown sugar in a big bowl, add 1/2 cup to each serving container, then sprinkle a handful of toppings into each and mix. That saves a lot of measuring.
When cooking, I add just enough water to go a tiny bit above the oatmeal, then cook in the microwave 90 seconds. Finally, I top it off with a splash of vanilla almond milk creamer. This came to me by accident when a coworker had some in the break-room fridge with a note offering to share it. Half and half is great, but non-dairy creamer lasts for months and doesn't smell up the fridge. If it's close to going bad, you can offer some to the office coffee drinkers.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think!