Let’s Cook: Try Pantry Porridge for the Breakfast Win

Porridge with strawberries and bananas You know those lonely bags of little bits of leftover grains lingering in that drawer, those packages of lentils and quinoa that you bought but haven’t quite figured out what to do with? It’s time for pantry porridge! The result is high in fiber, has protein (if you’re using lentils and quinoa), and fights food waste.

Grain mixtureHere’s the TL;DR: Ideally you have a base of rolled oats (the big flaky kind, not instant) and steel-cut oats, but if not, just brown rice will work. (White rice will be too mushy.) Add any other whole grains, pulses, and seeds you have sitting around. Cook till soft. Add liquid and reheat to eat, with whatever toppings you have on hand!!

The following recipe makes enough for weeks, so adjust proportions to what you have (and store the mix in the freezer).


  • 1.5 cup rolled oats (the big flaky kind)
  • 0.5 cup steel-cut oats (you might be tempted to use more but this will make the porridge too gluey)
  • 2 cups brown rice (short or long)
  • Pinch or two of salt


  • 1 cup wheat berries, rye berries, barley, farro (or a mix of whatever you have)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup small lentils (the orange/red ones look nice)
  • 1/2 cup amaranth
  • 1/4 cup sesame or flax or chia seeds

Mix all the porridge ingredients together in a bowl. Store extra in a bag in freezer. Make a small batch of dry topping mix (ideas below) and store in a jar for easy eating.


Scoop out a cup or two of dry mix to cook at a time, and rinse a few times in a strainer.

Put in your cooking vessel of choice (see below). Add 2-3 times as much water as you have ingredients — more if you like wetter porridge and a little less if you’re pressure cooking (it’s more like 1.5 cup liquid for every dry cup).

Add salt.

On stove: Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, half covered, for about 30-45 minutes, until the hardest grains are cooked but still feel a touch chewy.

If pressure cooking: Cook on high for 18 minutes and do slow release.

If slow cooker: Set on high for about 2 hours.


Heat it up in microwave or stove with a little milk or nondairy alternative and a little sweetener of choice (a little maple syrup, honey, agave, sugar — or applesauce or mashed banana), plus whatever else you might have around.

Some Topping Ideas: 

  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Chopped nuts or sliced almonds
  • Candied lemon peel
  • Candied ginger
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Sliced bananas, strawberries, or other fresh fruit