Oatmeal alternatives?
September 21, 2021 3:28 AM   Subscribe

Asking for an elderly relative who is looking for some variation besides oatmeal for breakfast. Her teeth aren't great so she would like something that can be prepared quickly and doesn't require much chewing. Is there something like instant porridge out there?
posted by Forty-eight to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Overnight oats? Cream of Wheat?
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 AM on September 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Grits! The "quick grits" you get in supermarkets takes only 5 minutes, and can even be done in a microwave. There are even "instant grits" in just-add-water envelopes like with instant oatmeal - only instead of sweet flavors, like instant oatmeal has, the flavors are savory - different cheeses, sausage gravy, etc.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 AM on September 21, 2021 [7 favorites]

About the grits - I just tried double-checking your profile to see whether you were in the USA but I don't see a location listed. So just in case: "grits" are the Southern USA name for what is called "polenta" everywhere else. In the Southern US they are more of a breakfast thing, but it's exactly the same substance; cornmeal milled so that it can create a soft porridgey thing.

Traditional grits, like traditional polenta, can take a little while; but they make these "quick grits" that brings the prep time down to just five minutes of simmering on a stovetop. If you're not in the US, I have a hunch that you might be able to find "quick-cooking polenta" where you are; just get that, it's pretty much exactly the same thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:40 AM on September 21, 2021 [7 favorites]

Yogurt, applesauce or other fruit purees? Depending on her tastes, Soylent and its ilk - there are lots of brands and lots of flavours now from coffee to mango to pistachio.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 4:40 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

I love cream of wheat. The instant kind I make in the microwave with milk in 90 seconds.

There's also lots of variety to be had in oatmeal. I suppose dried fruits might be too chewy, but crumbled walnuts and pecans are pretty soft when nuked with the oatmeal. Freeze dried fruit gets nice and soft, too.
posted by phunniemee at 4:41 AM on September 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

An elderly relative of mine cooked a few serves of brown rice in a batch then reheated a serve with milk and brown sugar in the microwave then added banana and yoghurt. It was delicious.
posted by Thella at 4:43 AM on September 21, 2021

Chia pudding? You literally just pour milk over some seeds and leave in the refrigerator.
posted by 8603 at 4:57 AM on September 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

You can make a porridge with any grain. Rice porridge (congee) is popular in large chunks of the world, in addition to the other porridges mentioned above. I’ve also seen porridges of buckwheat groats, and of millet. Smoothies in general are also a good option (eg. get her one of those trendy single serving smoothie makers and cookbook with smoothie recipes).
posted by eviemath at 5:00 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Farina is the brand name of a hot wheat cereal. Not quite the same as Cream Of Wheat, I think. Compare nutritional details.

Red River Cereal is a Canadian favorite available on line.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:01 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

If your aunt likes a sweet, warm breakfast rice pudding would also hit that spot.

There is more cooking time but actual prep time is minimal. She can do a batch and eat over several days warm or cold.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:11 AM on September 21, 2021

If your relative likes oatmeal, but is tired by the monotony of eating it the same way, see if she is willing to do a more savory version of oatmeal. Salt, pepper, cheese, butter are toppings I'd suggest trying together.
posted by ellerhodes at 5:19 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Grits are not polenta, anywhere. The former uses hominy, the latter uses corn that has not been nixtamalized. They taste rather different, but are both good.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:28 AM on September 21, 2021 [22 favorites]

Chinese steamed egg custard.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:38 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you’re in the US, two other near-instant hot cereal brands are Wheatena and Maypo. Wheatena tastes like cream of wheat run under the broiler, and Maypo has maple flavoring and comes in a oat or rice base. They’re all softer-textured than oatmeal.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:44 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I sometimes make a pot of lentils, that I can reheat portions of during the week for breakfast. I prefer them reheated after being refrigerated than fresh from cooking as well.

I use quick cook red lentils, chicken broth, and a dash of chili pepper. Easy to make ahead of time, having to check for stones mixed in the the lentils is the only annoying part.

Reminds me that I should do this on Sunday.
posted by TheAdamist at 5:47 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

I make overnight oats almost every weekday:

1/3 cup oats
A smidge less than 1/3 cup cup oat milk (or any milk or even water)
Half a grated apple (could use applesauce)
tablespoon maple syrup (or honey or sugar or nothing)
sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of salt
Other Stuff: a scoop of peanut butter, raisins, a few chocolate chips, berries, the rest of the apple, sliced, or no other stuff at all is fine too

Stir together, leave 6-12 hours in fridge.

It's different enough from regular hot oatmeal that it feel like its own thing completely and it's super delish.
posted by cilantro at 6:02 AM on September 21, 2021 [6 favorites]

We use Bob's Red Mill Scottish oats which we add milk too and overnight in the fridge. Then add yogurt, apples, and nuts. A little maple syrup if the apples are too tart.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 6:37 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Sweet potatoes could be cooked in advance and warmed up for breakfast. They could be topped with almond butter, raisins, and chopped nuts per this recipe.
posted by FencingGal at 7:10 AM on September 21, 2021 [5 favorites]

There's no law that says you have to eat something sweet and/or bready for breakfast.

- Soup. Split pea, vegetable, mild chili, flageolet, red beans with sausage, so many options.

- Rice pilaf.

- Scrambled tofu

- Croissant, bonus for warming it gently but fine if not, maybe with cheese on the side

- Fruit. Melon blocks, grapes, raspberries.

- Applesauce or baked apples

- Pie! So good!

- Quiche - this is available frozen.

Any of these are quick and easy if you a) purchase them pre-prepared and/or frozen, or b) make them yourself, perhaps putting them in individual storage containers so you don't even have to transfer to a plate in the morning.

Bonus because nutrition! I am especially fond of putting frozen kale and/or canned tomato chunks into soups and bean dishes.
posted by amtho at 8:07 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Quick Bread Pudding for One
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup
2 slices bread, cut into small cubes

In a large cereal bowl or small mixing bowl:
- Beat the egg with a fork until blended
- Stir in the milk, sugar and vanilla
- Add the bread cubes and soak for a few minutes
- Microwave 5 minutes at 50% power. Cook additional minutes, one at a time, until the eggs aren't runny and a knife in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve with more syrup and or milk if desired.
posted by evilmomlady at 8:25 AM on September 21, 2021 [5 favorites]

Grape nuts cereal. Quick and easy. Put some in a bowl wth milk (I use soy milk) then into the microwav for a minute or so. Soft and warm, slightly chewy - nice. P.S. I'm an old f***t myself.
posted by charlesminus at 8:45 AM on September 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

I love 2 scrambled eggs in 3 corn tortillas with salsa. Arugula, avocado, bacon/ sausage/ etc. if it's handy. The tortillas are best warmed, but it's fast to make. Or a breakfast burrito, which usually needs some rice and or beans to fill it out. You can make a batch of breakfast burritos, wrap in waxed paper, freeze, nuke in the morning.

Grits with butter, salt, pepper are really good. They're pure carb, not much other nutritional goodness.

evilmomlady's suggestion of bread pudding is spot on. or make a batch and have it for a couple days.

Baked sweet or white potatoes with butter, salt, pepper, and possibly topped with leftover chili, or avocado or leftover pulled pork.

I used to make muffins all the time, adding nuts, dried fruit, extra egg, maybe some canned squash, for extra nutrition, great start to my day. Need to get back in the habit.
posted by theora55 at 8:48 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Folks have got this pretty well-covered.. only things I might add are:

1) Zojirushi makes a nice little unit that can cook steel cut oats (model: Zojirushi NL-BAC05), I'm sure you could figure out some other suitable stuff to use it for. I typically throw nuts in and leave them to soften a bit, if they're put in at the beginning I'm sure they'd be very soft.

2) Mangù is a Dominican Porridge that's really filling and is typically served savory with fried cheese and egg, but I think you could make it sweet too. There's apparently a squash version as well. It may take a lot of prep, but maybe for an occasion.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 8:49 AM on September 21, 2021

Shredded wheat cereal soaked in milk for a few minutes is really good.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:56 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Shredded wheat cereal soaked in milk for a few minutes is really good.

But make sure it's presweetened or add your own sweetener of choice. Otherwise it's kind of a mouthful of straw.
posted by praemunire at 8:59 AM on September 21, 2021

She can make an oatmeal shake, which changes things up a bit. I take some quick-cook oatmeal, puree it (dry) in a blender, add a banana (fresh or frozen works), some milk and cinnamon, and you have a nice breakfast shake. And, of course, there are many smoothie variations she can try, even including spinach or kale for added nutrition.
posted by carrienation at 9:23 AM on September 21, 2021

Wheat Bix or Weetabix. Basically a biscuit of pressed wheat, you heat some milk in the microwave and pour it over with a little sugar or topping of choice, or put it all in a bowl and heat it at once if you're super lazy. You can have it with cold milk if you like crunch. They have a different texture and taste to oatmeal. You can also find them in some supermarkets in the US if you want a cheaper price than Amazon.

Rice pudding can also make a great breakfast. I bake a huge tray in the oven with lots of milk then reheat in the microwave for breakfast with a dash of milk and some jam stirred through.
posted by wwax at 9:31 AM on September 21, 2021

Here's a nice savory breakfast that can be made in the microwave and is very easy to chew. It can be cooked and eaten in a pyrex dish:

dollop of cottage cheese. Stir an egg or two into the cottage cheese. Some salt. Stir in some corn meal. Microwave for one minute and stir. Microwave for one minute and stir. Microwave for one minute and it's done.

I like to add shredded Mozzarella to the top for additional protein leading to longer lasting feeling of fullness. Other toppings I like are black olives, tomato sauces, cheddar cheese, ortega chilies, and nice interesting artisan breads as companions. It's very filling, easy to prepare and can be customized to individual taste.
posted by effluvia at 9:38 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I second amtho and say that split pea soup for breakfast , either yellow or green, is one of my favorite starts to the day.

Shorbet Adas (red lentil soup)

Shashuka can be fast if you have the tomato sauce/mixture done beforehand.


Pastina and egg
posted by oflinkey at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Something off the beaten path, but if you’re going for easy and nutritious, I’d recommend Huel. Cheap, functional and lots of flavours. I’m a huge fan of salted caramel. Can heat it up too but I don’t know if that is any good.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2021

Not quick, but easy and can be prepped ahead of time: rice porridge. Basically rice cooked with a LOT of extra water. Can be slurped, can be flavored, and can have extra nutritional stuff added if they are minced into tiny bits or falls apart after prolonged cooking. Pork and fish are great for this. Pork basically ended up shredded, and fish just flakes apart. Pretty much throw everything into a rice cooker (use a lot less rice), and turn it on, and let it cook, maybe add water and do it again if it's not quite soft enough.
posted by kschang at 2:53 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Shredded wheat cereal soaked in milk for a few minutes is really good.

How I make hot cereal out of shredded wheat is to put it in a bowl with twice its volume of hot water. Cover and let sit for a while until the biscuits swell and dissolve. Then add milk and sweetener as you would for oatmeal.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:17 PM on September 21, 2021

Malt-o-Meal! Delicious. Even more so with a little maple syrup drizzled in.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:28 PM on September 21, 2021

Cottage cheese with blueberries is fast, simple, and delicious. I like to put pecans or walnuts on top too, but for a nutty flavor without the crunch you could add some smooth peanut or almond butter. Any kind of fruit is pretty good, so whatever she has already prepped or needing using up can go on top, although berries are the best in my opinion since they are so simple to prepare (no slicing, peeling, deseeding, and relatively low in carbs vs high in vitamins).

If she used to love lox and bagels but now finds the bagel to be too much chewing, she could try a smoked salmon rice bowl. Flake smoked salmon in whatever form you find it onto reheated rice (brown rice is great reheated) and add other toppings as desired, like a soft boiled egg, toasted nori crumbles, sesame seeds, cold steamed spinach or other leafy vegetables, microwaved shelled edemame… instant dashi granules plus a spoonful of miso paste in hot water makes super fast miso soup and is a wonderful accompaniment.
posted by Mizu at 3:31 PM on September 21, 2021

Beans! On toast is nice or just any kind of bean casserole she likes, reheated (made in advance). Bean and cheese burritos. Jamaican beef patties. Meatballs, anything goes, doesn’t have to be a breakfasty food

You can microwave eggs! Get a bowl, butter, salt, fork, and a Tupperware lid. Line the bowl with butter. Salt the bowl (this isn’t only for flavour, it’s to reduce risk of eggsplosions). Crack the eggs into the bowl. Pierce the yolks a couple times. Lightly cover the bowl with the Tupperware lid, leaving a bit of a gap. The first time they’re done in that microwave, Nuke for 1 min, then in 10 second increments until things are the preferred consistency. Now you know the timing.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:30 PM on September 21, 2021

My lunch is Greek yogurt with chia seeds and Kashi Go cereal. That kind of cereal is probably too much chewing. I used to do nonfancy cereal. The whole shebang would probably work better for her with regular yogurt (or more yogurt) since it isn't as thick and the chia seeds won't soak up all the liquid.
posted by kathrynm at 5:38 PM on September 21, 2021

My breakfast everyday is a Premire Protein Shake (similar to Huel mentioned above?). The fruit flavors aren't as good as the others. My favs are Cookies and Cream, Cinnamon Roll, Cafe Latte and Chocolate/Peanut Butter.
posted by kathrynm at 5:40 PM on September 21, 2021

Quinoa is pretty easy and quick. I throw raisins into the water before the quinoa and they get soft.
posted by brachiopod at 5:44 PM on September 21, 2021

Muesli soaked overnight in yogurt. If the nuts are too chewy, just mix rolled oats with dried fruit (chopped dates, apricots, raisins, and cranberries) and add a tablespoon of nut/seed butter. Pine nuts are very soft but pricey.
posted by Frenchy67 at 6:24 AM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Trader Joe’s instant oatmeal with flax,quinoa,chia and amaranth.comes in individual packets.just add water/milk.

Cream of wheat porridge in instant pot..

Amaranth porridge in instant pot…
posted by SunPower at 7:35 AM on September 22, 2021

Cashew butter , pistachio butter, or almond butter added to or smeared on breakfast anything.
posted by hortense at 12:17 PM on September 22, 2021

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