By December 2, 2012 Read More →

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Store Oats

Why You Should Store Oats


Oats are one of those storage foods people LOVE to ignore.  I can’t even get my own husband to eat them.  Since we both came from rural areas and grew up with the same self-reliant and frugal values, I couldn’t understand this.  I love oats!  Why would anyone not like oats?

Soon I learned it wasn’t just him, but mostly everyone else I ran into.  I am convinced that most people who don’t like oats are running into one of two main problems.  They never had them prepared correctly to begin with; and/or they just don’t know what to do with them other than make oatmeal.  I am going to solve these problems with you today.  Oats are an extremely valuable item to put in your food stores and an incredibly healthy addition to your diet and here’s why:

1. Oats Store Exceedingly Well

Oats, especially in their slightly modified form of groats, and steel-cut oats – will last a LONG, LONG time and still deliver life-sustaining nutrition.  How long?  Studies performed at BYU have shown oats to still deliver “life-sustaining nutrition” for over 30 years if stored correctly.  Click here to see an article on Dry Canning – which is a way to safely store them long-term.  Even the more processed form of Rolled Oats or Traditional Oats will store 20+ years if stored correctly, Provident Living’s website claims 30 years.  However, processing oats shortens their storage life, so the more processed they are, the shorter their shelf life.

Ready to soak overnight – photo by Stephanie Dayle 2013

2. Oats Can be Easily Prepared Without Power

A supply of rolled oats can be prepared in many different ways.  The most common and easy way, is to boil them.  This can be accomplished easily by setting your oats in water and a hint of lemon juice or vinegar overnight to soak (This makes them easier to digest and they will cook up so much nicer for you), the next morning your pre-soaked old-fashioned oats will cook up as easily as quick oats, this also saves on fuel for cooking.

For the slow cooking of steel-cut oats or rolled oats you can use a Dutch Oven with an ample supply of water.  Place in a bed of coals, use charcoal briquettes, or use a kitchen oven on top of your wood stove.  The locking lid of the Dutch Oven seals in moisture and prevents the oatmeal from drying out.  They can also be used as stuffing like with Scottish Haggis, inside of various organ meats and/or used as a binder in recipes to hold things together.

Oats can also be enjoyed as a drink that has been around for ages and the nice thing about the drink is that you still get many of the health benefits from the oats.  You can also use oats to make your own granola as a snack or travel food (again you can do this with your Dutch Oven if need be click here to see an article on Choosing and Seasoning a Dutch Oven).

Lastly, ‘whole oats’ (with the hulls intact) can be sprouted in a matter of 3 days or so and eaten as lovely nutrient rich sprouts.

Sweet Cinnamon Oak Drink
• 1 C Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
• 1 (4-inch) Cinnamon Stick, Broken into Chunks
• 4 C Water
• Sugar or Honey to taste
In a large pitcher, soak the oats, cinnamon and water for a minimum of one hour, preferably three. Blend the mixture (remove the cinnamon stick) in a blender.  Strain and sweeten to taste.  Serve well-chilled or over ice.

Photo by Stephanie Dayle 2013

Slow Cooker Oat Meal from Food Network’s Good Eats
• 1 cup steel-cut oats
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup dried figs (or fruit of your choice)
• 4 cups water
• 1/2 cup half-and-half
In a slow cooker (or Dutch Oven), combine all ingredients and set to low heat.  Cover and let cook for 8 to 9 hours (mine looked pretty good after 4 hours but I would not have hesitated to cook them longer) stir them to check for burning or drying and add more water if needed.  If you are using a slow cooker (electric crock pot) method it works best if started before you go to bed.  This way your oatmeal will be finished by morning.

3.  Oats are Higher in Protein Than Wheat or Rice

Oat protein is 16.9 g to that of even Brown Rice at  7.94 g.  Oat protein is almost equal to soy protein, which research has shown is nearly equal to meat, milk, and egg protein (a bonus for those of us who don’t like soy).  The protein content of the different forms of oats ranges from 12 to 24%, the highest among cereals making oats an excellent choice to store as a survival food for times when other sources of protein are scarce.

4.  Oats Make You Feel Fuller, Longer

Oats contain more ‘soluble’ fiber than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion and an extended sensation of fullness.  Staying fuller longer could come in handy when food is scarce. It is also what makes oats a superb breakfast food, preventing the urge to snack until later on during the day.

5.  Oats Will Help Control Blood Sugar and Cholesterol

Oats contain complex carbohydrates which help stabilize blood sugar and the before mentioned soluble fiber slows the absorption of glucose.  The soluble fiber in oats has also been proven to lower bad cholesterol  (LDL) by essentially taking it out with trash as it moves through and out of your system so to speak.  Oats could be one of your only tools in treating someone with high cholesterol in a prolonged emergency when they do not have access to their statin drugs and oats could be one of many dietary tools for helping to manage blood sugar levels (assuming you don’t smother the oats in sugar).

6.  Oats Can be Used as a Meat Expander

During the depression, many families added oats to their meat when grinding and cooking it to make it go further and to keep everyone fuller a little longer.  A favorite place to add oats was and still is to meat loaves, as oats tend to take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with.

7.  Oats Can be Grown Where Wheat Cannot

Oats are easily grown in temperate regions.  They have a lower summer heat requirement and greater tolerance of rain than other cereals such as wheat, rye or barley.  They can be grown in areas with cool, wet summers, such as the Northwest.  As an example to their hardiness, they are being grown successfully in Iceland.  Oats also do not require weeding as they usually choke out most weeds.  Whole oats can be planted as seeds.

8.  Oats Can be Ground Into Flour

Groats are a good choice for flour making, but you can also use old-fashioned rolled oats.  Rolled oats can be turned into oat flour with a strong food processor while groats will require an actual grain mill.  Oat flour adds the health benefit of oats to any baked good.  Oat flour, if coming from a wheat-free facility, can also help fill the holes in a gluten-free diet.  If wheat becomes more scarce, oat flour may become its substitute.

9.  Oats are Inexpensive and Versatile

Besides all the uses you’ve read about so far, left over oatmeal can be made into a simple homemade oat bread.  Click here to view the recipe.  Not only does this save money, but it adds nutrition and depth of flavor to your bread.  Oats are relatively inexpensive due to their use as livestock feed and their unpopularity as people food.  When compared to other high protein grains, oats are rather inexpensive making it an important choice for food storage.  Now is a good time to stock up on oats.

10.  Oats Can Double as an Animal Feed 

Complex carbohydrates, in oats, have been providing energy to livestock for a very long time.  Horses were the reason humans started cultivating oats.  They can be fed to horses, cows, dogs (in the form of oatmeal), chickens, goats, sheep and almost every other farm animal.


 5 main types of oats and why it matters!

Whole Oats – These oats are usually straight from the field and still have a hull.  You usually can only get these from a feed or farm supply store.  Unless you have the means to remove the hull I would not recommend getting them unless you want them as animal feed or as seed – if you do buy them and want to use them as food, make sure they have not been treated with any kind of chemicals or poison.

Groats – These are whole oats with the hull removed, but are difficult to come by.  They can sometimes be found in co-ops and health food stores.  They take a very long time to cook up, and remain hard and unpleasant to eat – BUT they are excellent if you want to grind them into flour with your home grain mill.  You could also run them through your steel burrs if you have them on your grain mill, on a course grind and make your own version of steel-cut oats, which makes a very nice porridge.  These are fairly difficult to grind without practice, so another option would be to use a roller mill or roller mill attachment for your meat grinder or KitchenAid mixer (if you have one), and make your own old-fashioned rolled oats from groats.

Steel Cut Oats or Irish Oats
public domain photo

Steel Cut Oats – These are oats that have been cut by steel blades into small pieces.  They cook up finer and quicker than groats to make a nice porridge, and many people say that flavor from steel-cut oats is better than the old-fashioned rolled oat porridge we know as “oatmeal.”  They are also known as Irish Oats or Pinhead Oats.  Cooking time on Steel cut oats is 35-60 minutes if not longer.

Rolled Oats or Old Fashioned Oats – Are a processed version of groats.  They are groats that have been steamed and rolled flat to speed up cooking time to around 10-15 minutes in boiling water.

Quick Oats – Once again these are groats that have been steamed, but they have been rolled even thinner to decrease cooking time even more to 3-5 minutes in boiling water.  Once oats are processed to this extreme they start losing some of their nutritional value as the processing methods begin to damage the soluble fiber within the oats.

Rolled Oats
public domain photo

Instant Oats – these are oats, usually quick oats, that have been pre-cooked and then dehydrated.  You only need to add hot water to these oats for a finished product.  They do not store well at all and are the least nutritious of all the different forms of oats, but they still have a well deserved spot in your Bug Out Bag, or your 72 hour kit.  Flavored Quaker Instant Oatmeal is this type of oats.




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About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front and was featured in Marie Claire UK in the October 2012 issue that featured women preppers. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" released in August 2014 and available on "I write articles based on my own experience with emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle I do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts meshed with personal experience. My alter egos are as an full time mom, amateur photographer, and backpacker." Stephanie's past APN articles are featured below on several pages. To connect with her --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

22 Comments on "10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Store Oats"

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  1. Why Add Oats to Your Food Storage | April 1, 2013
  1. Great post; I’ve been over-emphasizing wheat, it seems.  Thank you.

    • george milton says:

      Yes. I can’t even think of a way to eat wheat without grinding it first. Put a bowl of ground wheat and a bowl of ground oats out for your chickens and watch which one they eat. The oats of course. That is not saying they don’t go nuts for day old spaghetti their chickens and spagh looks like worms =)

      But in a true survival mode I want the most versatile food that can be made the most ways with the least effort. Whole oats can be chicken feed or it can be breakfast. It stores really well and can be roughly quickly ground (cut) to provide intermediate textures and quicker cooking like steel cuts mode or ground to flour and do most of the things you could do with wheat.

  2. Thank you for this information! I never really knew the difference in the types of oats before other than the different flavors of instant oatmeal! :)

  3. thank you , Im in the infancy of becoming a prepper, I feel lost and get overwhelmed by all the need to know . This helps give me a better understanding.

    • Cathy if you have an Aldi’s in your town Dollar General or any grocery store probably has them. They are boxed dinners with freeze dried meat already in them. Hamburger, Chicken, tuna and Cheese Beef  Taco. Then you can get those cans of beef or chicken chunks and get Romain Noodles like beef flavored and add beef chunks to it and it goes a long ways. Hope this helps. 

  4. Love this article!!! :) great post

  5. Dan Irish says:

    Cathy Clemons, don’t get overwhelmed. Follow some very simple guidelines. Know this much NOW, you are AHEAD of the pack. You are acting! Don’t think you have to get everything done. Do a little each day or each trip to the grocery store. Simple guidelines, just buy an extra can or two of what your family already eats and create a storage area in your home. Keep an eye out for sales that will help you stock up on basics. Look for foods that are easy to store and have a longer shelf life. Remember many little steps accumulate to produce the destination.

  6. @Cathy: Me, too. I did notice that twice in the last several months BJ’s Wholesale Club has run a special on Quaker Oats, and so I’ve bought some that way. At 5lbs for $3.30, how can you go wrong?

  7. Oats and brown rice are two of my favorite foods for nutrition and for storing. I do not store for long term. But, what I do store will store for longer than short term. I was so pleased to see someone tell people not to mess with canning lids, pushing on them. I do know that brown rice will store for longer than the box/bag indicates. Brown rice that is parboiled still has 80% of the nutrition of brown not processed and much more than white rice. Look on my blog and see what I have posted ub regard to storing brown rice at home. Maybe you will agree.
    Very soon, I am going to publish your post in order to share you very complete information about oats. My problem is I put too much sugar on oats. Rolled oats from the grocery are fed to my hens as well as to me! They never eat anything put up for animals.
    Great article.

  8. Matt Osax says:

    The National Preppers and Survivalist expo is offering FREE tickets to this years event……!tickets

  9. Shawn Davis says:

    so is there still a risk of bot. when using this method to store dry oats?

  10. Joe Preston says:

    I vacume pack mine with a food saver. Enough for 4 people per bag.

    • Nope, Shawn – no risk of anything growing as long as you keep them dry! Silica packets are cheap and re-usable so I toss a few packets into my dry grains when I store them – just incase. 

  11. Joe Preston says:

    Quick oats that is.

  12. Shawn Davis says:

    Temperatures below freezing as well as moisture levels below 35 percent also render botulism inactive, which is why it isn’t a concern with frozen and dehydrated foods… when dry canning dried goods we should not have to worry about botulism? PLEASE let me know what you all think.

    • Hi Shawn, I suspect I misunderstood your question – so here is the long answer.ANYTIME you ‘can’ anything you have to consider the risk of botulism poisoning. Any time you take a product that may contain botulism spores and deprive it of oxygen (for instance when you use oxygen absorbers with mylar bags or jars)  you are creating an environment in which the the spores can grow if the right conditions are present. This happens with regular canning as well – which is why you take appropriate measures to prevent the bacteria from thriving or growing at all. In regular canning we add vinegar or lemon juice to water bath canned goods to make them acidic – in pressure canning we are heating the product to destroy the spores. By following these recommended procedures you are preventing any spores that may have been in there from growing. Since you ONLY ‘dry can’ DRIED food, and NEVER wet food, you are first removing the moisture before you seal anything up, thus preventing the growth of any spores and most bacteria (as you just stated) – that’s why its so important to dehydrate your food to at least 95% or better for long term storage. Even according the USDA this is more than adequate for preventing bacterial growth. Failing to do so would be akin to failing to add vinegar to your water bath canned goods or failing to run your pressure canner for the appropriate processing time increasing your risk that someone could get sick. SHORT ANSWER like in regular canning, if you follow the recommendations, and dehydrate to recommended levels you can be confident in your ‘dry canned’ food and not have to worry about eating it later. This is why I recommended silica packets – they take care of any residual moisture – ensuring your food stores well and is safe.  

  13. Junipers says:

    I love oatmeal & so does my husband. We prepare ours differently, but that’s ok. I really enjoy learning all I can about different products, and in this case, the different kinds of oats. Never gave it much thought before. I can remember my mother giving us oatmeal baths when we had chicken pox. It’s supposed to sooth and reduce itching. Oatmeal makes a great facial mask too, although I doubt we’ll be worrying about things like that when shtf. I’m going to stock up on some more oats as it is also a great source of fiber. Thanks for sharing some great infomation. I would’ve never guessed that oats had to be soaked!

    • Junipers – you don’t have to soak them if you don’t want to; hope I didn’t make you feel like you had to. I choose soak my oats because it allows me to quickly cook old fashioned oats (which usually need to be boiled for at least 10 minutes – but they are more healthy for you than quick oats) for breakfast in the morning. Also there are many people out in the nutrition world who say that soaking oats before you eat them is far more healthy for you as oats are hard for your body to break down. The lemon juice is used also to change the pH and make this process easier. If you look back in history soaking oats is how almost everyone used to prepare them – its as if we knew that was the best way to prepare them for our bodies. That practice wasn’t stopped until modern times when we decided we no longer had time to soak oats.  And as a side note, you don’t have to worry about soaking quick oats or instant oats – they are already so over processed that you will get no benefit from soaking them. Sorry to nerd out on you – its hard to stop myself once I get started.  

  14. I would prefer to store oat groats. I have prepared them whole for years. They do take a while to cook, but turn out sweet (oat groats retain the natural sweetness of the whole grain, and are sweeter than whole wheat berries cooked) and delicious. They can’t be that hard to chew because I always did just fine and I have soft teeth, and still have them all in my head, and I’m an old lady now. They are similar to cooked wheat berries (whole grain wheat) in that they are, indeed, yummy. You can cook them in a slow cooker: 1 Cup of groats, and two cups of water for 8-10 hours. You can add brown sugar at the first or later, just depends on your need for sugar.

    One can make flour from the groats as previously said by the author of the article, and you can process your own cereal. You just have to find a book or information on how to do it. The internet is full of healthy recipes for oat groats and wheat berries. Most of the recipes seem interchangeable, depending on one’s grain preference, or what is on hand.