In the mad dash that is weekly #MealPrep, you might focus a little too much on lunch and dinner ideas and not enough on the most important meal of the day: breakfast.

While we're not expecting anyone to prepare a full five-course breakfast every morning, you can at least save yourself the time and headache by preparing some options ahead of time. Steel-cut oats just so happen to be a great option for this since they only require a quick heat 'n go.

The days of skipping breakfast just might be over with these tips on how to store cooked and uncooked steel-cut oats, including some cute ways to store them away so you can brighten up every morning.

Steel oats shelf life

A great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and anti-oxidants that keep you full for longer, steel-cut oats are a great addition to the breakfast menu. They're also super versatile and are used to make everything from granola bars to muffins to overnight oats in every flavor imaginable. Like any food, though, they do have an expiration date.

Since oats are kind of like rice—use a little, and you still get _a lot—_there might be a surplus of oats of all different varieties just sitting in your pantry. Steel-cut oats require you to use them up a bit quicker. For example, while one- and five-minute oatmeal can last for two to three years, steel-cut oatmeal only lasts for one to two years.

You can tell if oatmeal has spoiled by these indications: a change in color or texture, a foul smell or taste, and if the liquid in prepared oatmeal has separated from the other ingredients. If any of these indications are present, toss it.

How to store steel-cut oats

  1. Uncooked oats: It's important to store dry, packaged oatmeal in a cool, dry place where the temperature is not likely to change. Too much temperature change from warm to cool and vice versa can cause condensation in the oatmeal, causing moisture in the air to condensate within the package. This can cause mold to grow.

    Keep in mind that flavored/cream oatmeal may get accelerated in the condensation process because it lasts less time (six to nine months uncooked). Be sure to keep an eye on it and always store it in a cool, dry place.

  2. Cooked oats: You'll want to store your cooked oats in the fridge, ideally at 40°F once the oats have cooled down and are safe to store. Make sure your container is airtight to avoid moisture and bacteria. Eat it within five to seven days.

    Tip: Brighten up your mornings by storing oats in cute Mason jars. You can buy them with stylish designs, such as a ribbon around the neck or a chalkboard attached, or make your own. There are tons of DIY Mason jar ideas on Pinterest just waiting for your creativity.

How to reheat steel-cut oats

We don’t have time for much in the morning, much less spending time standing in front of a hot stove waiting for oats to cook. This is where the beauty of steel-cut oats comes in. They are super simple to reheat, as the large oat texture doesn’t get affected too much, and the taste stays relatively the same and perhaps even better the next day.

If you made overnight oats, a popular option for steel-cut oats, then you're good to literally roll out of bed and start eating it since they usually don't require any heat. This is because the oats have already been "cooked" in the liquid that you added to the recipe.

If it's a hot bowl of steel-cut oats that you're after, simply add a splash of milk or a dairy alternative to the jar or bowl you're using and microwave for about one to three minutes.

You’ll never want to skip breakfast again with these quick ‘n easy ways to prepare and reheat steel-cut oats.

About the Author

Sarah Kester

Sarah is a writer, editor and cat mom. Lover of wine, rom-coms, and all things self-care, she’s inspired by mindfulness and helping others feel balanced in their lives through meditation, self-love and self-care. After all, what's balance without Saturday morning yoga and green juice and a glass of rosé later that evening? She has written for The Greatest, Elite Daily, YourTango, Vital Proteins, among others. To learn more, you can find her at her website sarahkester.com.