It’s not just moms who are busy in the morning. We’ve all got to start eating better! These days, nobody has time for the most important meal of the day. Yes, you should listen to what your mother told you (so should I) and get everything ready the night before. But do we? Well, here are 20 easy ways to do just that, at least for breakfast, with overnight oats.

What is that? Overnight oats are just what they sound like: overnight recipes for oats. It’s uncooked oatmeal soaked overnight (or at least a few hours) in liquid, which it soaks up by morning, making it ready-to-eat. For less-mushy oats, use less liquid. For more-mushy oats, use more liquid. You can use toppings to beat the bank or eat it just like it is, and any way in between.

Let’s break it down, starting with the basics. Here’s what you need for the base:

EQUAL amounts of (I recommend one-third to one-half cup of each):

Raw rolled oats or steel oats (NOT the instant stuff)

Milk (almond milk or other milk-product/milk-substitute – water may be used too)

Yogurt (Greek can be substituted, or yogurt can be left out if you don’t have any)

Add in layers or stir in (before or after refrigeration, usually a half-cup or more of whatever):

Other stuff you like to eat like fruits, raisins, nuts, seeds, granola (things will get soggy, so save ingredients you like crunchy to add in the morning or right before you eat it)

Spices, extracts or herbs you have handy (cinnamon and vanilla are tasty classics, chia and flax seeds are healthy too)

Don’t forget a bowl, jar, mug or other container (even an avocado or cantaloupe shell) to keep in the fridge (I like small to medium mason jars with lids for at home, lightweight plastic containers with lids for travel)

Overnight oats can be eaten cold from the fridge or heated up, as long as you use a microwave safe container and stir before eating to mix in “hot spots.”

They can stay in the fridge for up to 2 days, but that is it. Only make one or two days ahead.

Here are just a few variations you can make – get creative and use your favorites!


Stir in a half-cup each of strawberries & blueberries  for the perfect marriage of fruit to pair with your overnight oats.

For a New England favorite, stir in blueberries and add a touch of lemon zest (don’t skimp on the lemon zest!).

For a creamy delicious  start to your day, layer or stir in 1-2 Tbsp flax seeds, maple syrup and frozen strawberries.

Put some sweet in your morning  when you layer or stir peaches into your overnight oats.

Give breakfast a tropical twist  any day when you stir in mango & pineapple.

Top your overnight oats with crunchy Granny Smith apples and stir in grapes (cut in half) and almonds for a granola substitute .

Keep it light and tropical; layer or stir in cantaloupe and blueberries with a touch of honey and cinnamon to keep it sweet and spicy.

Pineapple and kiwi make mornings super-tropical, especially with Quaker oats .

Worth all the work, pomegranate seeds and cocoa nibs  (2 tsp), vanilla extract (1 tsp) make simple yet delicious overnight oats.

For mixed berry overnight oats , layer or stir in red raspberries, blackberries (fresh or frozen mixed berries works)

Stir in pitted cherries , walnuts (or sliced almonds) and try adding a touch of cinnamon or a few drops of extract, like vanilla or almond.

For a taste of carrot cake for breakfast, layer or stir in shredded carrot, touch of maple syrup and pinch of cinnamon.

Overnight oats with apple  slices and a pinch of cinnamon might be my favorite for fall.

To use up rapidly-aging bananas, stir in bananas & strawberries; add maple syrup or honey & walnuts if you like.

Feeling tired of the same old oats? Get crazy and stir in some peanut butter and your favorite jam !

Go savory with your overnight oats and stir in crispy bacon ; I like to replace the syrup with shredded cheese (this is best heated up in the am)

Loving the savory? Go Greek  and stir in olives, scallions, spinach and feta cheese.

For Hispanic-st‌yle  overnight oats, stir in avocado; instead of banana, try some fresh parsley with it.

Protein powder is a popular ingredient added to this overnight oat reminiscent of mint-chocolate chip  ice cream.

Stir in pine nuts and dates for a Middle Eastern flare  to your morning.

Oats are the classic breakfast food. Overnight oats are simply delicious food-to-go, and who knew, they’re good for you too! Maybe you have some help getting the kids up and going in the morning. If not, these recipes are literally simple enough the kids can do without help. In fact, what a great idea for kids’ breakfast too. No mumble and grumble about nothing to eat when your kid sees these on the top shelf. Good morning!