Almost every morning after I wake up, I walk straight to the kitchen, add water to a small stainless steel pot, and set it on top of the stove over high heat. Once the water boils, I reduce the heat to low, and add in either rolled outs or steel cut oats, depending on what’s in stock. Sometimes, waking up can be rough and there’s just no time to cook up a batch of oatmeal from scratch. That’s when I go out go to buy ready-made oatmeal.
There are many fast food chains that sell oatmeal these days, but they’re not all created equal. I’m usually hesitant when it comes to purchasing ready made oatmeal from fast food chains because the markup is ridiculous. A small container of oatmeal from these fast food joints cost about the same as a 42-ounce container of dry old fashioned oats. Since I’m very particular about my oatmeal, I’ve tried the ones from the fast food restaurants around my area. I decided to rank them from my least favorite to favorite. There’s nothing scientific here, I’m making my basis on three criteria, flavor, texture, and toppings.
#6 Starbucks – I’m pretty sure if I just shaved off cardboard flakes, it would taste the same as Starbucks oatmeal. I’ve had it a few times at different locations, at least the poor texture and lack of flavor is consistent from location to location.
#5 McDonald’s – A step up from the Starbucks oatmeal, but not by much. It has that microwave made instant oatmeal type of taste and texture. The fruit and maple toppings make it easier to eat, but not by much.
#4 Panera – Fresh fruit toppings such as blueberries and strawberries. The pecans add a nice touch as well. Unfortunately, the steel cut oats fall a little flat.
#3 Pret A Manger – Well-cooked, steel cut oats that actually don’t need much toppings. It stands out very well on its own.
#2 Jamba Juice – Simple and elegant with a touch of brown sugar. There is a natural sweetness to the oatmeal (probably from the soy milk) and the steel-cut oats have a great mouth feel.
#1 Corner Bakery Cafe – The winner. The steel cut oats aren’t better than those of Jamba Juice, but the portions are larger, and the toppings are simply amazing. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive.