The One Pantry Staple I Appreciate Even More Now than Ever

published Jun 10, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m having a quarantine love affair with rolled oats. It used to be that this unassuming staple would waste away in the back of my pantry, only to be unearthed every so often when a wintery oatmeal craving struck. Although I am well aware that there are far more varied uses for rolled oats, oatmeal was pretty much as far as my creativity would allow. But that was pre-pandemic times … and things have changed.

During the very first week of stay-at-home orders, I decided to try my hand at homemade granola, toasting up a huge batch for my family to snack on during the week. This was after a particularly in-depth conversation we had about how many things one can do with rolled oats — oatmeal, granola, cookies, quick breads, muffins, crisps, flour, milk, and more. (My mom even puts oats in meatloaf!)

Luckily we had a huge bag of rolled oats just biding their time for this on-a-whim granola project. After this first attempt, we decided that this granola would be a weekly thing. (Eleven weeks later, it has been.) Indulging in such an easy-to-make treat also proved to be a bright spot during a particularly dreary time. It was also then when I realized just how quickly a family can blow through a stash of rolled oats, when utilized to their full potential.

When our oats container approached a concerningly low level and our next scheduled grocery shop was a week-and-a-half away, I vowed that we’d never be without the stuff again. Of course, when that grocery shop happened, rolled oats were nowhere to be found. (Was everyone making granola?) The next time we did find them, however, we made sure to get enough to satisfy our newfound obsession. And I can promise that I will be sure to always have these on hand, from here on out.

Ever since, we’ve been making (yes) granola, overnight oats, savory oats, fruit crisps, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, and raspberry crumble bars. We are also taking suggestions for other applications. (I haven’t yet whirred them into flour or soaked and blended into milk — but I’ll never say never.)

Please leave your favorite uses for rolled oats in the comments below.