What to Eat When Writers Can’t (or Won’t) Cook Breakfast

Overnight OatmealHey, you. Yeah, you with the coffee in hand. You know that’s not an adequate breakfast, right? Trust me on this when I say you could do a damn bit better and improve your writing productivity with barely 5 minutes of effort. And no, smarty pants, I’m not talking about popping the top on your Cocoa Puffs or whatever vile boxed cereal passes for breakfast these days and chasing it with a Red Bull. I’m talking real food, and gluten free, since I can’t seem to swing a dead cat without hitting someone with gluten sensitivity any more (present company included).

Okay sure, yes, you could have full cooked breakfast, but honestly, think about it? Do you really have that time? Day job, kids on their way to school, family responsibilities. All these things have you pulling your hair out already. Do you really want to add to that stress? I’m going to guess no. As much as you and I might really want that yummy slab of bacon, scrambled eggs, full fat buttered toast and what not, the reality is neither you nor I are going to take the time out of our over-burdened schedule to cook it, right?

So as luck would have it, I’ve got the solution. It takes all of 5 minutes to throw together the night before. When it comes time for that day job or that head first leap into your latest work-in-progress, you can grab and go. Take the time. Five minutes and you’re not even cooking. You can even make it two days in advance. Yes, I know it’s not bacon, but this is brain food we’re talking about here. It’s all over the interwebs (check out this Huffington Post article for a start). You need a fast, yummy kickstart. Here’s my suggestion.

PS: You can add chocolate.

Overnight Oatmeal for Writers

(or, how Jennelle cleaned out her cupboards and got a blog article at the same time)

IngredientsOvernight Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats or instant oatmeal and make sure they’re processed by a reputable company that protects their oats from gluten contamination)
  • 1/2 cup dairy or dairy substitute (almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, even fruit juice works)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, dried fruit (use whole raisins and you won’t have to chop, though personally I’m a fan of chopped dates)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds or chia seeds (the chia seeds have a higher amount of protein, FYI)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs (ooh, you so fancy!)


Mix it all together in a sealable container and let it sit overnight.

Yep. That’s it. Overnight gives you plenty of free time and gives the oats and fruit time to soften up in the liquid you used.

Some Notes

Question: Can you use less liquid? 1/2 cup of liquid seems like a lot of dairy when I’m using whole milk.

Answer: If you think you might be able to get away with less liquid, give it a go, but let me show you what happened when I tried.

Too Little Liquid

Some people like it “sturdy” like this (I’m looking at you, MrMr). But if you like it a little less firm like I do, go ahead and use the full amount. If you’re worried about the fat content, switch to a lower fat version or a dairy alternative. I’m a big raw milk advocate so I use whole milk most days. But whenever we run out, I keep plain and vanilla almond milk around and use that instead. It adds a little variety and tastes good too.

Question: What the hell are cocoa nibs?

Answer: Cocoa nibs are proto-chocolate, my friend and you would do well to add them as a nifty little gourmet treat in your kitchen. Wikipedia describes chocolate production in detail. Suffice it to say, cocoa nibs are the little bits that first appear when some enterprising soul whacks the beans apart with a machete. They look like this.

Cocoa Nibs

If you can’t find cocoa nibs at your local grocery store, you can either leave them out, or sub in grated or finely chopped dark chocolate. Personally, I like the nibs because I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but when I am, I really only want a taste of it. That, and I had them hanging around from an unsupervised trip to a gourmet food warehouse. *cough*

Question: Can I add nuts?

Answer: Oh heck yes. In fact all those pictures you see up above? I actually reduced the dried fruit by a little less than half and added an equal amount of chopped, raw almonds. But chopping takes time and I didn’t want to blow you away with effort, you know?


Do you make overnight oatmeal?

Which variations have you liked the best?


10 thoughts on “What to Eat When Writers Can’t (or Won’t) Cook Breakfast

  1. Pingback: What to Eat When Writers Can’t (or Won’t) Cook Breakfast | Jennelle Holland

  2. Well, considering my blog post a few weeks back, I don’t really make oatmeal, lol. In fact, to be honest, I’m horrible when it comes to making sure I eat a healthy breakfast. I’m in too much of a hurry, I overslept, or just too plain lazy, I’m afraid. I know it’s bad for me and something I need to work on. But I’m all for any recipe that includes chocolate! I do like that this is a versatile recipe and you can include so many things. I’m convinced certain dishes like fried rice/stir fry, frittatas, salads, and soups were created to use up leftovers and clear out your cupboards and fridge!

    • I think that this recipe is the reason I don’t mind making oatmeal, mostly because it’s not really cooking. I’m so very guilty of simply starting my work day, whether that’s the day job or the work in progress of the moment. And you’re totally right about using up leftovers and the reason for those creations. Nothing goes to waste. I’ve found myself making some really tasty food using what MrMr refers to the “lotto” method of cooking. 🙂

  3. I try to eat breakfast, especially when I want to lose weight. I eat a lot of fruit in the morning. I also love rolled oats, vanilla yogurt (or plain but then I add Splenda), apples and bananas all mixed together. Great post

    • Thanks, Nancy. I agree that eating breakfast is paramount for maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve tried this recipe with greek yogurt too so I could up the protein count a little more. It works well enough but I like the texture of it better with liquid. i have a great friend who recommends stirring in unprocessed, local honey as a sweetener. She uses it to help with her allergies and it’s done wonders for her. I’m not big on sweets, so I let the natural fruit flavors do it for me. Splenda would definitely be an option for people who had to guard their sugars carefully. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. That sounds a lot like muesli. In Germany you can get it with chocolate as well. I don’t really like chocolate in the morning, but a lot of people do. I have muesli, fruit and homemade yogurt every morning. Tweeted.

    • That is exactly what this is, m’dear! Words have power, though, don’t they? I suspect that if I’d called it muesli, my Dutch grandmother would have been proud and everyone else would have accused me of being an old fogey. Overnight Oatmeal is much more attractive until we can glamorize the real name without evoking images of prunes and Mr. Roger’s sweaters, don’t you think? Thanks so much for tweeting!

  5. You had me at cocoa nibs. I try to get a protein and produce in at breakfast (because I’m on another fitness challenge, yay me) and I think I’ve had the same thing for breakfast for two weeks because I literally cannot make my brain think any harder at breakfast without it exploding into a million pieces. Luckily, it’s tasty. There’s avocado and salsa involved…so really, you can’t go wrong.

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