Oatmeal isn’t just an adult food. Why we love oats for all ages plus 7 ideas for making overnight oats for kids.
We talk about using oats quite a bit in our homes because they’re actually one of our favorite foods and most frequently used plant-based pantry staples.
Oats are used in everything from muffins and pancakes to breakfast and even smoothies to serve our kids. We’ve also used them to make veggie-packed oatmeal bowls.
One of the easiest and most versatile ways to offer oats to kids is with overnight oats.
Benefits of Oats
Oats are a wonderful grain with many health benefits to offer. They have a mild flavor and texture, with great versatility to take on whatever recipe you use them in.
They’re low in natural sugars but high in fiber, particularly one type of soluble fiber called beta-glucans, which are good for heart health and blood sugar regulation.
Additionally, oats provide protein. You’ll get around 5 grams of protein per 1/2 cup of raw oats.
Overnight Oats for Kids
While oatmeal is most often pictured piping hot in a big breakfast bowl, overnight oats have become a popular way to switch things up from this traditional approach.
To make cool and creamy overnight oats, all you need to do is gently mix together your ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and store it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you’ll have a delicious breakfast waiting.
Note that old-fashioned rolled oats work best for making overnight oats, as steel-cut oats or instant oats can be either too rough or too mushy.
We recommend making a batch of overnight oats on a Sunday night to use over the next few days. Don’t worry – they tend to maintain their texture well even if you don’t eat them the immediate next day.
Basic Overnight Oats Recipe
The basic recipe for overnight oats is a 1:1 ratio of oats to plant-based milk, which could be 1/2 cup oats to 1/2 cup milk per jar. We recommend using fortified soy or pea milk for their higher protein content.
To up the creaminess and add some probiotics, you can also add yogurt in a ratio of 2:2:1 of oat to milk to yogurt. This could then be 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/4 cup yogurt.
We often add chia seeds or ground flax to help boost nutrition but also as a natural thickening agent.
7 Ways to Make Overnight Oats for Kids
Below are 7 variations of overnight oats for kids (and the whole family), depending on flavor and texture preferences.
It’s really hard to screw up overnight oats. Start with the basic recipe above and add in the topping combos suggested below – or experiment with your own!
1. Chocolate Nut Butter
Add 2 tsp chia seeds, 1.5 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 Tbsp nut or seed butter. You could use peanut butter, almond butter, or nut-free sunflower butter here.
2. Berries Galore
Gently stir in 1/2 cup of berries of your liking to your basic recipe. This can be whatever you have on hand, either fresh or frozen. Some of our favorites include frozen wild blueberries, fresh chopped raspberries, or even some freeze-dried strawberry powder.
3. Peach Mango
Peaches and mangos are a delightful pairing. Whether you have fresh or frozen varieties, add about 1/2 cup to your basic oats recipe.
4. Apple Cinnamon Walnut
Add 1 Tbsp chia seeds, 1 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup apple juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup chopped apples, and an optional 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.
5. Peanut Butter Flax Banana
Slice or chop 1 small banana to mix into your basic oats recipe, along with 2 Tbsp peanut butter and 1 Tbsp ground flax seed. For nut-free homes, sunflower butter can work too.
For another variation of this recipe, see this post for PB&J Overnight Oats.
6. Pumpkin Pie
Canned pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A, and overnight oats are a great way to use them at non-holiday times of the year. To your basic recipe, add 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, 1 Tbsp chia seeds, 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Alternatively, you could add 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice.
7. Tropical Coconut + Pineapple
Rather than soy or pea milk, consider coconut milk for this one to add more coconut flavor. Stir in 1/4 cup diced or canned pineapple, 1/4 cup diced mango, 2 Tbsp coconut flakes, and 1 Tbsp chia seeds.
Making overnight oats for kids is fun! You can even involve them in the preparation process, which gives them a sense of decision-making control and independence. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy oats and prep healthy breakfasts ahead of time.
Chime In: Do you make overnight oats at home? What else do you like to put in your recipes? Share in the comments
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