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How To Store Cooked Oatmeal

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To guarantee that cooked oatmeal remains fresh and maintains its nutritional value, follow these tips for how to store it the right way.

Oats are generally purchased in bulk, and large portions are often prepared in order to save time and money. However, common mistakes occur because people do not know how to properly keep oatmeal fresh.

When improperly stored, the leftovers get thrown away because they are inedible, gone stale or even spoiled.

How do you store cooked oatmeal? Cooked oatmeal must be kept inside the fridge or freezer to minimize bacteria growth a prevent spoilage. Cook oatmeal should be safely stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Cooked oatmeal can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Learn how to properly store cooked oatmeal so that you can extend the life of your leftover food, and ensure that none of the creamy deliciousness goes to waste!

Storing Cooked Oatmeal

Cooking too much oatmeal is an easy mistake to make. In fact, it is often time easier to cook more than you need.

If you follow these tips, then you will learn how to properly store the leftovers so that you don’t need to throw them away each time.

There are easy ways to store cooked oatmeal so that you can enjoy it at a later time, even consider making a large batch that you can keep for meals throughout the week. 

Cooked oatmeal can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, which allows you to have leftover oatmeal every day of the work week without having to cook up a fresh batch each morning.

When preparing to keep a large amount of leftover oatmeal, there are three different ways to store cooked oatmeal, each method allows for different storage times:

  • Refrigerating Oatmeal – The fridge is the easiest option to store oatmeal, and most efficient method if you are planning to eat the remaining oatmeal within the next few days. The leftovers can be kept in a large container or store in separated individual portions. Keep secured in an airtight container for up to 5 days to lock in freshness and flavor.
  • Freezing Oatmeal – Using the freezer to store oatmeal is is optimal when you are not going to eat the leftovers right away. The freezer will help to extend the shelf life even further. Cooked oatmeal kept in the freezer can last up to 3 months when stored in an airtight container.
  • Dehydrating Oatmeal – If you don’t want to store the cooked oatmeal in the fridge or freezer, the dehydrating may be the best option for you to pursue. For optimal quality, dehydrated oatmeal should be kept inside an airtight container placed in a cool, dry and dark area. Under optimal conditions, dehydrated oatmeal can last up to 3 months and can easily be reconstituted with hot water.
How to store cooked oatmeal

What Is The Best Storage Container For Cooked Oatmeal?

When you are safely packing leftover oatmeal, having the right container makes the task go a bit smoother. An airtight container helps to avoid leaks and also prevents moisture from escaping and air contact that could increase oatmeal spoilage.

There are three common containers to store cooked oatmeal, and each one offers different attributes:

  • Freezer bags – Freezer bags are a good choice because they are cost effecting, disposable and durable. They are easy to store and can also be stacked on top of each other to save space. The bag is made with a semi-permeable membrane that will help to keep the oatmeal fresh and protected from air contact and moisture. Even though freezer bags are marketed as reusable, the plastic material will harbor bad odors that you will not want to pass along to the oatmeal.
  • Glass containers – Glass containers are a popular choice for storing cooked oatmeal. They seal with an airtight lid and the glass does not retain bad odors, therefore the container can be reused over and over again. Overall, there really aren’t many disadvantages to using glass except for the risk that it could break easily and that glass is heavier than plastic.
  • Plastic containers – Plastic containers are really common and convenient to use for leftover food storage. Nowadays, plastic container in good condition shut with an airtight seal, they are stackable and durable for longterm use. You can use plastic containers time and time again, however bad odors remain locked in the material. The funky flavors can be passed along to the leftover oatmeal, so that is something to watch out for.

Once oatmeal has been cooked, it must be refrigerate within 2 hours. According to the USDA safe handling procedures, you should not leave cooked oatmeal sitting out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. The leftovers can rapidly increase bacterial growth leading to potentially hazardous food borne illnesses.

When you want to reheat the cooked oatmeal, you can simply leave it out at room temperature for a short time to bring it up to room temperature, add a splash of liquid to the oatmeal, give it a good stir and place it in the microwave to warm up, or heat of the stovetop until the porridge is piping hot.

Stir while heating up to ensure the heat is evenly distributed. If the oatmeal needs more liquid, don’t hesitate because the oats will definitely soak it up. Enjoy!

Related: How to Reheat Oatmeal – Ultimate Guide

Can You Freeze Oatmeal Add-ins?

If you enjoy oatmeal with some blueberry and banana, or any other combinations like maple and brown sugar or apples and cinnamon, the meal prep turns out much better if you cook oatmeal plain before freezing, and then mix in the extra ingredients when reheating the oatmeal. 

When keeping leftover oatmeal in the fridge or freezer, it is completely unnecessary to cook these ingredients into the oatmeal on the first time around. By doing so, the mix-ins get cooked, thawed and reheated, therefore the add-ins tend to get soggy, mushy and overcooked. 

Spices also change their taste when frozen and thawed, so the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom might not have the same flavor as it did when the oatmeal was prepared fresh.

Let the plain oatmeal thaw at room temperature for a little bit, then mix-in the extra ingredients before reheating on the stovetop, oven or in the microwave. The add-ins will be subtle and flavor the oatmeal with the tastes you enjoy.

How To Store Oatmeal Long Term

The longevity of dry goods is determined by where and how you store oatmeal. Taking a few simple precautions will drastically extend the shelf life of the oatmeal.

For best results, dried oatmeal should be kept in the proper conditions:

  • Clean – Keep the oats container in a clean area is important to prevent pests and vermin from ruining the oatmeal.
  • Cool – Dried oatmeal should be kept under temperature controls to ensure the oatmeal preserves its nutritional value.
  • Dark – Direct light exposure can degrade the nutrients in the oats, so it is important to limit the amount of brightness.
  • Dry – Dried oats absorb moisture rapidly, which can result in mold growth. Keep the oatmeal storage area dry with circulated air that is well ventilated.

Once you understand how to store oatmeal, then you can decide where to store the whole grains. 

Here are the best storage options:

  • Pantry – The pantry is the most common place to store oatmeal, as long as the area is clean, cool, dark and dry.
  • Refrigerator – The fridge is cool, dark and dry, which makes it a suitable space for dried oatmeal. However, it is not ideal if your refrigerator has a limited amount of space. 
  • Freezer – You can freeze dried oatmeal to further extend its shelf life, However, efficient use of space can challenge this storage option for the long term unless you have extra amounts of cold storage space. 

Depending on the type of oats, oatmeal storage container and storage conditions, shelf life ranges between 3 months to 30 years. 

When stored under the right conditions, regular rolled oats can be kept for up to 24 months.

Properly kept oats might be fine to eat after this, but the freshness and quality may not be the same as it would before 24 months. However, this should be enough time to eat all the oats!

Can Oatmeal Go Bad?

There is no precise measurement to test the freshness of the oatmeal and determine whether or not it has gone bad. Ultimately, you will need to rely on your sense to tell if the oatmeal is safe to eat/

If the oatmeal looks off or discolored, or it smells strange or tastes funky, then it is best to play safe and discard the remaining amount.

Look for obvious signs of that could result from moisture buildup or mold growth inside the storage container. If the oatmeal has gone soft or turned stale, then the airtight seal may have been compromised and the oats have gone bad.

If you have old oatmeal, before you throw it away consider using it to make body care essentials like face mask, body scrub or hair moisturizer.

Can you make oatmeal ahead of time and reheat it?

Yes, it is safe to prepare oatmeal ahead of time to avoid having to make it from scratch every day.

You can cook a large batch of oatmeal on a Sunday and store single-serving portions in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Therefore, your breakfast meal prep is ready for the entire workweek.

Reheating oatmeal is quick and easy to do in the microwave, stovetop or in the oven. Add-in your favorite toppings and your are all set to go!

Can I eat oatmeal that sat out all day?

You should not eat oatmeal that has been left out all day. In fact, oatmeal should not be left out for longer than 4 hours if you are eating right away, or 2 hours maximum if the food is being stored in the fridge or freezer and being reheated

Leftovers are considered to be potentially hazardous foods. The longer that oatmeal is left out at room temperature, the greater the risk of bacteria growth that can potentially lead to causing a food borne illness.

Can I store oats in a can?

Yes, you can store oats in a can if you have the proper canning equipment. The downside is that the can cannot be reused or resealed once the can has been opened. 

Canning oatmeal in a mason jar is a reusable method that can be resealed more than once.

That being said, canning is a good way to store oatmeal and keep protected from moisture and extend the shelf life.

Storing Cooked Oatmeal: Final Thoughts

Dried oatmeal can be stored in a clean, cool, dark and dry area to further extend the shelf life anywhere between 3 months to 30 years. An airtight container placed in the pantry or dry storage is the best option, however a fridge or freezer can also be used.

Cooked oatmeal can should be kept inside an airtight container and placed inside the fridge or freezer. When stored in the refrigerator, cooked oatmeal will last up to 5 days, and when kept in the freezer it can last as long as 3 months.

Follow the recommended tips to store cooked oatmeal so that you don’t have to throw away tasty leftovers that have spoiled. 

Most importantly, cooked oatmeal should be kept in an airtight container and stored at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit within 2-hours of preparation. Following the time temperature guidelines will help to further extend the quality and shelf life of the cooked oatmeal.

Cook up a batch of delicious oats and follow these guidelines to store it properly. Safely enjoy a quick and easy serving of oatmeal each morning during the week!

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