Why Instant Oatmeal Should Be in Your Survival Kit

September 25, 2012

Survival Kits

Oatmeal: a great on the go meal

Food. It’s the first thing most people think about in a survival situation. “I’ve got to find something to eat!”

Maybe it’s because we’re so accustomed to eating regularly throughout the day and our stomachs remind us when it’s getting close to mealtime. Maybe it’s a comfort activity; something that can be done to preserve a sense of normalcy in a situation that seems beyond our control. Whatever the reason, food is the first thing that most people think about in survival.

In reality, there are much more important things to worry about. If you recall the Rule of Three you know that air, shelter, water come first.

Nevertheless, you’ve got to eat sometime so carrying a lightweight, nutritious meal with you that can provide a bit of warmth on the inside is a good idea. It’ll help give you boost of energy and lift the spirits.

Instant Oatmeal: It’s All Good

You heard the axiom “Store what you eat and eat what you store.” They are words to prep by. That’s why one of the items I like to carry with me in my 72 hour kits is instant oatmeal.


  • Lightweight. With some foods, you’re carrying around a lot of extra weight in the form of liquid. Not with instant oatmeal. It’s lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Nutritious. One packet of instant oatmeal contains 20% of most of the FDA’s Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, Iron, and Folic Acid. (Not that I put a lot of stock in the FDA’s recommendations, but that’s another story.)
  • Servings. Since instant oatmeal is packaged in individual servings, it’s easy to carry and use only what you need.
  • Preparation. It’s easy to make instant oatmeal. If you can boil water, you can make instant oatmeal.
  • Packaging. The packaging is flammable. That can come in handy when you are trying to start a fire in the wilderness.

I typically carry my instant oatmeal in a homemade MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). The MRE contains 2 packages of instant oatmeal, a granola bar, a teabag, a paper towel, and a plastic spoon. It’s all vacuum sealed so it should stay fresh for a long time.

Instant oatmeal in an MRE

instant oatmeal MREAlthough I haven’t actually tried it, I suspect that I may be able to boil water in the plastic vacuum seal bag. I’ll give that a try sometime and let you know in another post about homemade MREs.

A Caveat

In a true survival situation, you’ll burn a lot of calories just trying to stay alive. Making a shelter, gathering firewood, searching for water, all take energy.

Instant oatmeal, when prepared with water, only contains around 130 calories per serving. That’s not a lot. It is high in carbohydrates, though. But you’ll need to supplement your instant oatmeal with other sources of calories if you’re going to be stranded for quite some time.

So, what about you? What do you carry for survival food? 

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20 Comments on “Why Instant Oatmeal Should Be in Your Survival Kit”

  1. Tin Man Says:

    Oatmeal… It is all good.
    I have always enjoyed oatmeal as a substantive breakfast. My personal preference is the old fashioned Oats, the kind you have to cook for 10 minutes, but in a Bug Out scenario or just convenience on the trail, instant oatmeal works well. It takes so little space that you can indulge with two packets for added calories.
    When I lived and worked in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Northern Minnesota a few years back, I really enjoyed a local breakfast up there called ‘Red River’ Cereal. It’s made with cracked Wheat, Cracked Barley, Cracked Rye and Flax Seed. Add some cream and brown sugar or dried fruit, It is very tasty. It also stays with you longer than Oatmeal on cold brisk mornings.
    Because I like to diversify, I made my own version of the ‘Red River’ brand cereal (leaving out the Rye), I would like to share with you.
    Mix in a large bowl
    4 parts hard red winter wheat berries
    1 part Barley
    1 part Quinoa seeds
    1/2 part Chia seeds
    1/2 part Flax seeds
    Grind or crack all grains and seeds to consistency in a meat grinder or a ‘Back to Basics’ Hand Mill.
    Boil 1 cup of water
    add one half cup of the cracked/ ground mixture, (store the rest in a tight container), add sweetener if desired or dried fruit
    simmer for 10 minutes (Can also be allowed to soak in a thermos with the cup of boiling water for an hour or so til tender or overnight so it’s ready first thing in the morning).

    Because of the nutrient dense wheat/ Quinoa, Flax and Chia, this combo will really sustain you most of the day.
    I have Vacuum sealed all the dry ingredients (including dried fruit and sweetener), in small individual packets for my BOB and take a few packets on the trail with me when hiking Just add hot water and you are good to go.
    The TinMan


    • Joe Says:

      Thanks TinMan!! Sounds delicious!



    • Practical Parsimony Says:

      Old Fashioned will stay with you longer than instant oatmeal. Put the Old Fashioned Oatmeal in the water when you start the fire. When the water is boilng with the oatmeal in it, the oatmeal is almost done. Add raisins or whatever, Put the lid on for a few minutes. If you need to conserve the heat source, in a few minutes the oatmeal will be good to go.

      Like I said, the instant oatmeal does not stick to the ribs very long. It raises blood sugar quickly and then leaves you hungry sooner. You can pack your own oatmeal in snack bags. One-half cup Old Fashioned Oats requires one cup water. Salt, raisins, and sugar makes it good for me.

      There are several ways you can cook this. Put boiling water and all ingredients in a thermos and it will “cook” that way. Or, cook oatmeal and wrap the pot for a few minutes.


      • Joe Says:

        Thanks Practical! At home, I definitely prefer old fashioned oatmeal but I must admit that convenience has drawn me to instant for MREs, camping, backpacking, etc.

        I’ll have to give the old fashioned a try next time.




    • Carrie Says:

      Beware that if you don’t eat cracked grains regularly, they will affect your gastric system negatively. Wink wink! So, incorporate them slowly into your diet.


  2. George Says:

    Yes you can boil water in most vacuum seal bags. i have done it quite a bit using hot rocks and it works quite well.


  3. Brian Says:

    So what is the ‘shelf life’ of the instant oatmeal in a vacum sealed bag?


    • Joe Says:

      Great question, BrIan. I don’t know how long the instant oatmeal will last in a vacuum sealed bag but I suspect quite some time (years). However, I treat them like I do all of our pantry and rotate them out periodically.

      Thanks for the comment!



  4. grayfox114 Says:

    I love the instant oatmeal idea, have used it for a long time, but I went a step further: I took instant oats or c of wheat, added powdered milk and sugar, and I now have a fairly complete meal. I put it in a seal a meal bag and sealed it up. I did the same with mac and cheese. Powdered breakfast drinks and cocoa are another great option, and instant coffee or tea can be carried the same way. While they offer little in the way of nutrition, there are times when nothing sounds or tastes better that a cup of joe or tea. Either could contribute greatly to your mental health, and could make a world of difference in a survival situation.


  5. Carol martinson Says:

    Instant oatmeal (or even instant Cream of Wheat) can be jazzed up with dried fruits and nuts. You don’t have to boil the water either (especially the Cream of Wheat) it just takes a liitle longer. Due to IBS I lived off of both for months. Still eat it to give my intestines a rest when needed. I’m still alive and kicking!


  6. Karen Says:

    Oatmeal, definetely a MUST have in anyones food storage. Now, I never liked oatmeal! Could not eat it without gaging…. Last year I found “The Oat Meal Miracle”. It’s Macaroon cookie mix from Just mix some in your plain oatmeal and everyone loves it. We have also stocked up on freeze dried blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Having that on hand turns boring oatmeal again into a yummy breakfast for the rest of my family, … I’ll stick with the Macaroon mix. You Have GOT TO TRY IT! Heaven!!!


  7. JoshG Says:

    Eat what you store, and store what you eat. I eat oatmeal almost every morning. With a cup of green tea and honey. I like to mix 1/4 cup of Old Fashioned with 1/4 cup of the instant oatmeal. Gives me the slower digestion of the Old fashioned but with the creaminess and faster cooking of the instant. You can make old fashioned into instant by putting it in a blender. I use raisins and sliced almonds, sometimes dark chocolate chips if it’s that kinda day/evening. It’s very adaptable, you can add sugar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, honey, jam or jelly and get a million different flavors. Dried versions of those flavored sweeteners would be awesome for hiking. I occasionally use the Butter Buds dried butter flakes (or just butter if at home). I think I’ll experiment more with the butter flakes and dried milk and see if I can get it even tastier. I actually added shredded cheddar like you would do to grits once. I was sad to say that it was delicious. I was trying to keep oatmeal in Sweetness village, and I let it slip into Savory town. Rice and grits can pretty much do the same stuff as oatmeal, if you think about it. Variety in your dry porridge cereals. :)


  8. Erica Says:

    I am very new to prepping and I appreciate blogs like your so incredibly much. I think if I were to make an mre like this, I would somehow find a way to add a scoop of protein powder to each kit. I believe the protein would add a lot to the meal, along with dried fruits and nuts. Do you feel this is a poor idea?



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