Boatmeal — Oatmeal on a Boat

I learned this trick for making oatmeal on a college backpacking trip, where we literally had to carry all the stove fuel on our backs.  Believe me, we didn’t want to have to carry one bit more than we had to — but it was chilly and a hot breakfast each day sounded good.

Instant oatmeal can be hard to find in some places, and it’s usually more expensive when you do find it.  But you don’t need it!

Old-fashioned oatmeal cooks up in just 5 minutes and doesn’t take any more cooking fuel than just bringing the water to a boil . . . if you know this trick.

As we were standing in line for dinner at our first LoretoFest, I was talking with the cruiser in front of me.  I don’t remember her name, but she said that her husband loved oatmeal for breakfast but she hated fixing it because all she could get was old-fashioned oatmeal and it just made the galley so hot.  When I told her this way to make it, she immediately dubbed it “boatmeal” and the name stuck.

Boatmeal:  Oatmeal on a Boat

Per serving:

1 cup water

1/3 cup oatmeal

dash salt

Optional:  dried fruit, raisins, dates, nuts, cinnamon

Put everything except any optional nuts in a pan and mix together.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Immediately turn the stove off and let it 5 minutes, covered.

Serve, adding nuts over the top if desired (if boiled, nuts lose their crispness).

Enjoy!

Boatmeal is just one of the recipes in The Boat Galley Cookbook, all of which are designed to be easy to cook on a boat.  Some, such as this, have innovative cooking techniques.  Others offer easy ways to prepare old favorites with electrical appliances while others offer numerous substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients.

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36 Comments
  • Duke
    Posted at 31 January 2011 Reply

    I prefer steel cut oats. Found that I can let them set in the measured amount of water overnight. The next morning I add what ever I want – except nuts – before I bring them to a boil for about 30 seconds. Then let them set covered for about 15 min. before adding the final touches.

    The steel cut oats do not taste any different than the rolled oats, but their texture is more like rice.

  • Martha Warner
    Posted at 31 January 2011 Reply

    We have done boatmeal for years aboard our boat. I use 1/3 cup of oats, a tablespoon of dry whole milk powder, a teaspoon of Splenda, a few shakes of cinnamon, some nuts,(pecans, walnuts almonds) and some chopped dry fruit(apples, raisins, cranberries or mango)Then I add a little water, warmed in the winter, cool in the summer, and stir it up. It’s more like a granola than a cooked mash. We love it!

  • Charles
    Posted at 15 December 2011 Reply

    I can’t stand the mush that oatmeal makes when you boil it directly. I use “old fashion” oatmeal but I boil the water separately, then pour into a bowl with my oats and whatever flavor additives I choose for the day (commonly sugar and red pepper sauce), cover and let stand. The texture is perfect and you get no gluey mess.

  • Jan Irons on Facebook
    Posted at 15 December 2011 Reply

    ummmm… or substitute apple juice for the water – you can either nuke it for 2 minutes and then let it sit, or do it exactly the same as boatmeal! My latest favorite for breakfast. Be sure to add cinnamon and stir before partaking.

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 15 December 2011 Reply

    Might have to try that in the morning. Maybe even a few walnuts!

  • Chuck Burns on Facebook
    Posted at 06 November 2012 Reply

    Great I have always been concerned with the energy wasted with cooking instructions that have you bring water to boil or an oven up to temperature. Some things can start cooking with that energy and this illustrates it perfectly. Any news on the Kindle edition of the Boat Galley Cookbook?

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 06 November 2012 Reply

    Funny you mention that . . . I just sent an email a few minutes ago asking about the status. As soon as I hear anything, I’ll post a note.

  • Chuck Burns on Facebook
    Posted at 06 November 2012 Reply

    Terrific…I have found my iPad to be the savior for having reading materials on the boat…We can get books and magazines electronically, save paper, save weight, not worry about getting them or moving…it was designed for boaters… I believe it..

  • Sue Klumb on Facebook
    Posted at 06 November 2012 Reply

    “Boatmeal”…our favorite now…thanks Carolyn 🙂

  • Jono
    Posted at 14 July 2013 Reply

    Use organic rolled oats ..big ones …pour water on leave overnight or3/4 hours …bring to heat…not even to boiling …just hot enough to enjoy …kept all the crew on Southern Ocean race to Aus very happy and regular !!!!! jono

  • Brittany Meyers
    Posted at 25 November 2013 Reply

    Totally obsessed with your boatmeal!! Make it ALL the time…so easy. My fam’s favorite combo is slivered almonds, shredded dried coconut and brown sugar!! SOOOOOO yummy!!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 25 November 2013 Reply

      Oooh, that sounds good! Sitting here right now with my bowl with raisins, walnuts and brown sugar. I may just have to get some coconut — never thought of putting it in oatmeal, but I love it in oatmeal cookies, so I’m thinking I’d love it!

  • tami
    Posted at 25 November 2013 Reply

    or cook the oatmeal in coconut milk…

  • Tammy Swart
    Posted at 25 November 2013 Reply

    Mom we’ve had boatmeal the past two cold mornings… Add walnuts and craisins.

  • Ruth Golden
    Posted at 15 May 2014 Reply

    I can’t say enough how much your wonderful site has helped me prepare for our voyage. I just ordered the book yesterday and I know it will have a treasured spot aboard s/v Nalani. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Robert
    Posted at 15 May 2014 Reply

    One of my crew has pint soupThermos bottles, pours boiling water in, rite amount of oatmeal, puts lid on, lets it set for several minutes, adds fruit, raisens, eats it out of thermos. Rinse it out, done with dishes.

  • Diana K Weigel
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    Thanks I love oatmeal and the instant often has too much sugar.

  • Brittany Meyers
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    We love boatmeal!!!

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    I rather like Cream of Wheat but that’s a comfort food for me. Oatmeal certainly has its place on our breakfast table as well (sometimes for dinner also). Cooking with residual heat is a great idea, especially aboard. Scorching and burning are a thing of the past with this technique so even if some boat chore or radio net distracts your meal isn’t ruined.

    I do prefer the old-fashioned regular oatmeal. It seems to be readily available in small stores off the beaten track. Closer to major population centers it has been more challenging to find. The various instant varieties taste a little off to me.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

      Hmm, I’ve never had a problem finding old-fashioned oatmeal even in big cities.

    • Dave Skolnick
      Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

      I’ve had to look harder in cities. Warehouse stores are fine. Perhaps it is the difference between “boy looking” and “girl looking?” Sometimes I’ll look and look and even ask for help and come up dry while Janet walks right up to whatever we’re looking for.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

      Walmart always has it, almost every other grocery store, too.

  • Monika
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    Even easier: combine your oats, milk ( i use boxed soy or almond as I am allergic to dairy), sweetener and/or fruits the night before and leave in fridge. In the morning it is a minute to warm it up though we have eaten it cold.

  • Kerry Gorman
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    coconut? brilliant!

  • CherylAnn Falconer
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    This is very close to the way Swedish parents cook porridge everyday( mum mother is Swedish) Its super easy, try it drizzled with honey. Its our go to brekky on Sailing The Planet.

  • Andy Thewoodwright Hurst
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    I simply soak it without using heat and enjoy it that way.

  • Steven Burke
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    …and it’s SO good for you. 🙂

  • Nancy Nazar
    Posted at 20 May 2015 Reply

    I have used this method on land for all sorts of things…rice, pasta, oatmeal….on land…..works incredibly well…..Wouldn’t it be nice if we were as conscious of our energy usage on land as we are on our boats!

  • Savana
    Posted at 11 April 2016 Reply

    I love the boatmeal and boat galley they give you very helpful tips when you are sick .thanks!?

  • Ken Lund
    Posted at 06 August 2016 Reply

    Sounds like oatmeal to me. No big secret.

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 06 August 2016 Reply

    Just saw a recipe for carrot cake oatmeal. Going to try it.

  • Jane Gammons
    Posted at 07 August 2016 Reply

    Stir in some peanut butter for protein

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 07 August 2016 Reply

    I set old fashioned oats in water or almond milk overnight then just cook up in 5 mins in the a.m. craisins & orange; apples, walnuts & cinnamon or shredded coconut. Yummy

    • Barbara Leonard
      Posted at 07 August 2016 Reply

      We used to have a B&B and one of our favorite recipes was to put a bit of honey in the bottom of a glass or cup, add oats and dried fruit, cover with milk (or cream if you have it), cover and let soak overnight in the fridge. In the morning we topped it with a bit of granola or toasted coconut and nuts for crunch. Very elegant and very easy.

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