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OAT-SIDE THE BOX

Oatmeal is the ultimate budget-friendly breakfast, and it's packed with nutrients. But eating the same kind of oatmeal every day can get old. Whether you prefer to cook oats in the morning or chill them overnight, bake them or drink them, here are 20 ways to add flavor and flair.

Related: 25 Cheap, Quick Breakfast Ideas to Start the Day Right

Try Different Types of Oats
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BRANCH OUT

First, try a different oat. Steel-cut, instant, and rolled oats are processed differently, so they have different textures. In steel-cut oats, sometimes called Irish or Scottish oats, the kernel (called the groat) is cut instead of flattened and has the chewiest texture. They also take the longest to cook. Instant oats are pressed smaller and cook the fastest but also have a mushier texture. Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, are a middle ground in consistency and cooking time. They look like discs because the groat has been steamed and rolled.

Quick-Cooking Oats
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DIY OATMEAL PACKETS

Instead of buying store-bought packages in different flavors, make custom packets with your own favorite fixings. A few suggested flavor combinations include cranberry pistachio, apricot hazelnut, and apple ginger. Recipe: Oh My Veggies

Related: 10 Easy-to-Make Foods to Stop Buying at the Store

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STRAWBERRY PEANUT BUTTER WITH MASHED BANANA

This mashup is a treat for banana lovers. It uses a smashed, overripe banana to add natural sweetness. The banana is puréed and added to the water as gluten-free oats cook. Cinnamon spices up this oatmeal. Recipe: Veggie Inspired Journey

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TROPICAL FLAVORS

Your bowl of oatmeal can taste like the tropics with this recipe that uses flaked coconut, chopped mango, cashews, and brown sugar. Recipe: Real Simple

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ARUGULA AND AVOCADO

This dish brings veggies to the breakfast table. Along with steel-cut oats, the recipe calls for garlic, onions, mushrooms, olive oil, avocado, arugula, and a runny fried egg. Recipe: Fannetastic Food

Spinach
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SPINACH

Spinach and Parmesan pair well with steel-cut oats. Those who would rather not start the day with leafy greens can add pumpkin purée and protein powder, or chai mix. Recipe: Men's Fitness

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NUTELLA AND BANANA

Try a decadent way to start the day with Nutella oatmeal and sliced bananas. The recipe also calls for milk, brown sugar, and sea salt. To change it up, swap out the Nutella for peanut butter -- or combine them. Recipe: Simply Scratch

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SWEET MIX-INS

Those with a sweet tooth can add cacao nibs or cocoa powder to oatmeal. Graham crackers are another option for sweetness and crunch. Recipe: The Kitchn

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SAVORY MIX-INS

Crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, or a bit of both can give oatmeal a savory spin. Other options include scallions, tomatoes, or zucchini. Recipe: The Gracious Wife

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OVERNIGHT OATS WITH A TOPPING

Instead of making hot oats in the morning, try cold overnight oats. The basic recipe involves equal parts rolled oats, milk, and yogurt with chia seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Simply combine the ingredients and store them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, top with something crunchy and a little bit of healthy fat, such as nuts. Recipe: Kath Eats Real Food

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VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE PEANUT BUTTER OVERNIGHT OATS

A gluten-free and vegan alternative, this recipe uses almond milk, chia seeds, peanut butter or almond butter, maple syrup, and gluten-free rolled oats. After the mixture sits overnight, top with fruit, flaxseed meal, or more chia seeds. Recipe: Minimalist Baker

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ADAPTABLE OVERNIGHT OATS

This recipe for overnight oats (including chia seeds or flaxmeal, vanilla extract, salt, and either honey or maple syrup) can easily be adapted for different tastes. Swaps can make it vegan, sugar-free, or gluten-free, and there are chocolate peanut butter and carrot cake variations. Recipe: Wholefully

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SLOW-COOKER APPLE PIE OATS

After cooking overnight, slow-cooker oats are hot and ready first thing in the morning. This recipe turns apple pie into part of a nutritious breakfast. The recipe calls for steel-cut oats, almond milk, apples, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and lemon juice. The mixture cooks for four to eight hours. Recipe: The Healthy Maven

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BLUEBERRY BAKED OATMEAL

For those who like the idea of oatmeal but not the texture, baking could be the answer. This dish uses spices, toasted nuts, and fruit and makes a substantial six to eight servings. Recipe: Cookie + Kate

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BAKED OATMEAL WITH APPLESAUCE

Applesauce replaces most of the butter in this baked recipe. The recipe also includes dried cranberries and raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a few other ingredients, taking only 20 minutes to cook. Recipe: Two Peas & Their Pod

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OATMEAL BREAKFAST COOKIES

Take oatmeal on the go in cookie form. These cookies are made with almonds, overripe bananas, dried cranberries, maple syrup, molasses, and spices. White chocolate chips are an optional addition. Recipe: Oh, Sweet Basil

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OATMEAL TRAIL MIX CUPCAKES

Oatmeal trail mix breakfast cupcakes are a good grab-and-go option, and they are egg-free and dairy-free. Ingredients include banana or applesauce, salt, cinnamon, a sweetener, dried fruit, wheat germ or flax meal, water, vanilla, and oil (or a little more applesauce). Recipe: Chocolate Covered Katie

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BERRY OAT BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE

For a cold and fruity oatmeal option, especially for those who don't like the flavor or texture of a bowl of oatmeal, this recipe is a blend of milk, frozen berries, honey, yogurt, and ice. Recipe: Creme de la Crumb

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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL SMOOTHIE

This smoothie can be a sweet, filling breakfast or a hearty snack. It calls for combining oats with ice cubes, coconut milk, peanut butter or peanut butter powder, cocoa powder, honey, and vanilla extract. Recipe: What the Fork