Oatmeal is definitely a popular and nutritious food on breakfast tables across the country, and is commonly found with all kinds of regional toppings and add-ins.
There is little doubt that is part of a well-rounded breakfast, but where does oatmeal fit into a survival food plan? Does it have the longevity and nutritional profile to warrant bulk inclusion in your prepper stash? Is oatmeal a good choice for a survival food?
Yes, definitely stockpile oatmeal for disasters and emergencies, so long as you account for its preparation and storage requirements. Oatmeal is highly nutritious and very filling, and most varieties also have lengthy shelf lives of 10 or even 20+ years.
However, do note that it requires considerable protection from pests, and also a lot of water or other liquid for proper preparation.
As always you should not make the call and commit to a large purchase or wholesale inclusion in your survival stash before understanding all of the variables. In the remainder of this article we will go over a few things that you will need to know before you can decide if oatmeal is right for you as a survival staple.
Oatmeal has a Long Shelf-Life
Oatmeal is a standout dry storage grain capable of lasting a long time and remaining perfectly edible with little intervention from you.
Oatmeal contains virtually no liquid and requires no refrigeration so as long as you keep it in adequate packaging, protected from pests and stored in a cool, dry place. Bulk oatmeal will last at least a year, with several varieties lasting two or even three years.
In fact, if extended shelf-life is important to you look into choosing so-called 5-minute oatmeal or the increasingly popular steel-cut oatmeal instead of traditional instant oats. You can depend on 5-minute and steel cut oatmeal to last a minimum of two years in ideal conditions, and certain varieties of 5-minute oatmeal will go up to the 3-year mark.
Flavored Oatmeal has a Much Shorter Shelf Life
Take care that you do not overdo it on the flavored instant oatmeal, or ones that have a “cream” flavoring element. The longest you can expect these popular breakfast options to last in storage is half a year to nine months. This is because they have ingredients aside from basic oats that will go rancid and spoil.
This is not to say you shouldn’t keep them on hand but you will have to be more diligent about rotating them and you cannot expect them to last for the long haul. If you include these as a supplement to more traditional, basic oats you should make it a point to consume this flavored oatmeal first.
Pests are a Major Concern
One hurdle you will have to overcome when storing large quantities of oatmeal is its desirability to all kinds of pests, both mammalian and insect.
Mealworms, flower moths, weevils and more will greedily infest and devour your oatmeal, potentially ruining it.
If the infestation cannot be overcome, the only way to safely remove the critters, if you want to remove them, is by freezing them which might not be an option in the middle of a survival situation.
Certain grain pest insects might be disgusting and give you the heebie-jeebies, but they are not dangerous and can even be eaten for an extra shot of protein. If you can overcome your revulsion you might prepare them right along with the oatmeal without worry so long as the oats have not been spoiled through their prolonged activity.
Rodents are another matter. Mice and rats will greedily devour your oats, and the typical containers that oatmeal comes packaged in offer next to no defense against them. Even heavy-duty food-grade plastic buckets offer little protection against them once they get the scent.
The best protection against rodent pilfering is to keep the rodents away in the first place through other preventative means of control. But assuming you have one or two infiltrators passing through, a securely closed steel outer container will defeat their explorations soundly.
Three ways to stop weevils developing
The first and simplest is to freeze your oats for a week before storing. That will kill off any infestation. After checking, store your oats in a tightly sealed glass, metal or sturdy plastic containers. Don’t store in plastic bags, paper or cardboard containers, as the weevils can eat their way through even thin plastic and infest other dry goods.
The next method is to use the microwave oven. If you have the time you can microwave the oats at 500W for around 30 seconds to ensure what you are storing it weevil free. This is suitable only for small quantities as the oats need to be spread out on a plate.
The best way to stop weevils is to store in an oxygen free environment using oxygen absorbers that are suitable to use with mylar bags. This way, the weevils are deprived of the oxygen needed to develop.
Oatmeal Requires Liquid for Preparation
Most varieties and preparations of oatmeal require liquid for preparation, either heated or not. Typically served as some type of porridge this preparation requirement must be accounted for, especially if your access to a reliable source of water is limited or uncertain.
Most of us will not have access to a regular supply of milk in a long-term survival situation unless we live on a dairy farm or have relatives or neighbors who can supply you with such.
Some varieties of oatmeal are eaten dry, typically being toasted and mixed with other ingredients to form a granola-like mixture. In a pinch oats can be eaten raw but this is both challenging and unappetizing.
Oatmeal is a Staple Ingredient
Oatmeal is more than just a breakfast staple by itself. It is a component in many regional preparations of the same, and also an ingredient in many dishes capable of being made into cookies, oatcakes, desserts, flapjacks and more. Oatmeal also makes a great filler in casseroles and meatloaf.
Aside from adding variety to your menu options for the well-prepared survivor is also a great way to add vitamins, minerals and bulk to your typical fare. This can help you go longer between meals without feeling hungry.
Oatmeal is Healthy, but not Nutritionally Complete
Oatmeal is healthy, but is not truly nutritionally complete as is sometimes reported. It has almost no sugar and lots of vitamins and minerals, but the quantity of vitamins and minerals is lacking compared to other foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Oatmeal does contain some protein and very little fat meaning it is not great for sustaining high energy levels.
You should not rely on oatmeal as the one, true food to keep you truly healthy. It will keep you alive, but if you rely on oatmeal alone your diet will be missing several key elements of nutrition.
But the good news is that oatmeal has been proven to lower the risk of heart disease and lower your overall levels of blood cholesterol. This sturdy staple is generally a good option when added to a reasonably well-rounded diet.
Oats Recipe Round-Up
Now we know exactly why we should be stockpiling oats, here is a round-up of a few recipes to provide some inspiration on how to use that stockpile of oats.
The poultry seasoning, parmesan and oats make for a light flavorsome chicken tender.
Add in all the great fresh vegetables from your home vegetable patch, then thicken up with ½ cup of rolled oats, serve with crusty toasted homemade bread drizzled with olive oil and an optional sprinkle of finely grated parmesan cheese.
This is done the traditional Arab way with oatmeal to thicken this stew, which is made with either ground beef or lamb, and flavored with cinnamon and allspice, bay leaf and parsley.
This is a traditional beef soup with all the requisite vegetables and seasonings that people have come to expect, thickened with oatmeal.
Chunky cubes of beef chuck or brisket make for a rich stew when combined with the carrots, celery, onions, and other ingredients.
The recipe calls for two tablespoons of Ben’s Heffer dust, a versatile spice mix that’s been around for 50 years, and takes the work out of combining spices and herbs. You can substitute for a spice/herb mix of your choice if you wish.
A perfect prepper recipe this uses ground beef mixed with vegetables and covered with a light golden crusty topping incorporating self-rising flour, oats, onion, eggs and milk.
This vegan recipe provides sufficient protein when meat is unavailable and is firm enough to be grilled. The burgers use pinto and red beans with rolled oats, carrot, onion, garlic, and spices for flavouring.
This takes about 5 minutes – blitz the oats in the blender with the frozen banana, peanut butter, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon, and you have a healthy creamy smoothie that tastes like cookies for breakfast. Who can complain?
Frozen or fresh berries, bananas and oats go into this breakfast bowl mix that can have more nut or dairy milk added to create a smoothie that can be sipped from a glass. It is super healthy and good for the skin as the ingredients are high in anti-oxidants and healthy fats.
These cookies are soft and chewy and will probably become a family favorite. Remember to use rolled oats as the recipe specifies for a great texture.
A South African staple these were made in big trays and cut into squares to liven up kids’ lunchboxes with a sugary treat that is also packed with healthy stuff like oats and nuts, coconut and spices like ginger and cinnamon.
They were also hauled out when someone unexpectedly turned up for a cup of tea or coffee. Some people add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed, chopped dried apricots – in fact whatever nuts and dehydrated fruit takes your fancy.
They lasted a week until Saturday when it was time to bake again. Some people would add a melted chocolate layer on top but this is seriously decadent and for prepping the plain crunchies are sweet enough to provide a hit of sugar during a hard day’s work.
Yes, there are loads of blueberry muffin recipes out there – but this one incorporating oatmeal is really soft and delicious. The secret lies in soaking the oats in milk for 20 minutes. Try it!
Preparing breakfast for large families takes time so the Amish made life easier by putting everything into a casserole and baking breakfast.
This is so yummy with the flavors of the apple and raisins permeating the oats, and a sweet topping with nuts giving it some extra crunch. Any leftovers could be served with custard as a supper dessert.
Oatmeal is a good choice for your survival pantry, but it is not the one staple to outdo all others. Most varieties of oatmeal have a long shelf life so long as they’re kept safe from pests and properly stored, but it is nutritionally lacking in some areas, necessitating a more well-rounded diet if you want to achieve complete nutritional intake.
However, the adaptability of oatmeal as well as the ability to use it as an ingredient in various other dishes makes it a popular and perennial choice for preppers.
last update: 11/16/2021 by Jeanie Beales
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.