Dumpster Oatmeal

When you think of dumpster diving, what comes to mind? Old couches, slightly tarnished chairs? Random junk? What about unopened food packages, huge bags of rice, pots and pans, frozen vegetables? I have found all of these while going through students’ leavings, and eaten them too. It’s amazing the edible things privileged (and even not so privileged) students will throw away. One of the most common items? Instant oatmeal.

Since I’m by myself all week, and money is almost nonexistent until I get paid, this week I’ve been trying to spend as little as possible on new food while using up everything I can of what I have already. Which led to today’s post-work snack, which had only three ingredients, two of which were on clearance and one of which was scavenged. Here’s the recipe, if you want to barely survive and feed yourself in style.

dumpster oatmeal
And by “style” I mean the same slightly bland-looking style that instant oatmeal typically provides.

Dumpster Oatmeal – Serves 1

1. Find a microwave-safe bowl that will hold two instant oatmeal packets with room to spare.

2. Grab two packets of Quaker Instant Oatmeal from the variety pack you got out of a local university’s dumpster a few weeks ago. Sure, you could have just one, but we both know that’s not filling at all. Also two allows you to combine flavors- I like to pair apple cinnamon with maple brown sugar.

3. Before you put the oatmeal in the bowl, grab some of the  organic Thompson raisins you got on clearance at Target last week. A handful is probably enough. Then dump in the oatmeal.

4. You could mix with water, although for a little more of a creamy texture, add some of the last of the organic rice milk you also got at Target. Maybe that was the same shopping trip? Anyway, just enough to get all the oatmeal wet is enough. Don’t add too much or it will be watery.

5. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Don’t stir it first, that doesn’t really help until it starts to cook. Stir it when it’s done.

6. Eat it a pathetic number of bites. If you’re still hungry, follow with a sandwich made out of your last two pieces of Udi’s bread and the last of your Wisconsin cheddar. Which is technically a different recipe, so those ingredients (Udi’s whole grain bread and cheddar) do not count in the original 3.

7. Next time you make oatmeal, consider adding more protein. Flax seed maybe. Flax seed is filling and cheap.

Really though, I get paid this Friday and this is the first check since I started working five shifts a week, which I started doing when the department got depressingly short-staffed just as the summer weather finally showed up.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to apply to some jobs this week and work on some training that I have access to through a temp agency, so here’s hoping that dumpster oatmeal continues to be more of an option than a necessity.


Author: elizabethlorraine

Writer, actress, runner, knitter, and geek.

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