Cooking & College: Easy overnight oats

Overnight oats are an easy breakfast to grab before class.

Image By: Ellen Brandt

A week away from the start of spring semester, the morning hit me like a bag of bricks. Classes were starting again, textbooks needed to be bought, my ex-boyfriend’s things returned, a bus pass to get, groceries to buy—the list never seemed to end. 

On that particular morning, I heard my sister rustling around in the next room. I was hiding out in her apartment, more than three hours away from Madison, campus and obligations. 

My last few days there were spent gawking at her graduate student life, getting to know her girlfriend, making food and watching Netflix. 

Between my moments of relaxation, I was on my computer wrestling with class schedules. 

As a very recent transfer student, my academic and personal life felt like an endless routine of trying to break through brick walls. Two part-time food service jobs are just the cherries on top of an already very full plate.

Lying in bed with my spinning head, I thought of something: I’m not the only one going through this. 

I’m not the only one that just went through a breakup, doesn’t have a major, is still getting comfortable on campus, trying to find a place to live next year and starting to find herself. 

I’m not the only transfer, sister, daughter, student, barista or hostess out there. I could not think of anything else so profoundly comforting. 

Along that train of thought, I considered where I was just last year: unemployed and floundering back at home. I was in a pretty dark place. 

It wasn’t until I pulled myself up by the bootstraps that I finally applied to UW-Madison and took my job search up a notch or two. After that big step, I was accepted and the successful job interview was not far behind. 

Elated, I commuted to work every day. I would drive 45 minutes and pay for parking just to sit at the Memorial Union and read. After work, I would run across the street to Trader Joe’s to daydream about owning my own apartment filled with my choice of groceries before heading home.

And so, on that cold and difficult winter break morning, I did a task that, to someone not viewing the situation through my lens, would seem routinely simple. I got out of bed. 

My sister was in the kitchen; water was boiling for my tea. Out of the fridge she took two containers of overnight oats that she had whipped up the night before. 

We drizzled honey and sprinkled berries over our delicious, pudding-like breakfast and planned the day ahead. 

Thanks to my Pinterest-loving sister, I now have a super easy breakfast in my arsenal for those cold, rushed mornings ahead. And I am grateful—for more than just one reason.

Easy overnight oats

These are fantastic, convenient, delicious, and healthy! I love a flexible breakfast using pantry basics that also accommodates whatever you happen to have in your fridge/freezer.  Serves one.


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1/3 cup regular rolled oats (aka old-fashioned oats)

3/4 cup milk (I used coconut)

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Honey or pure maple syrup, for topping/sweetness

Fruit, nuts, coconut, whatever you desire to top off your oats

Directions:

Mix together ingredients in a bowl, mason jar or container of your choice.  

Keep in mind that since chia seeds are light, they can sometimes float to the top (and do not absorb the liquid) so you can check on them about 10 minutes later and stir them again if necessary.  

Cover and put the bowl in the fridge to sit overnight.  

In the morning, top with your favorite toppings and serve cold.

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