Our grandparents were raised on it. Our parents may have been as well. But breakfast cereal has almost wiped it out.

Porridge is any kind of hot cereal made from grain. Oatmeal and cream of wheat are the most common today, but you can make hot cereal from almost any kind of grain—corn, rice, or even quinoa.

Compared to ubiquitous breakfast cereal, porridge may seem boring, outdated, and inconvenient. Cereal is instant, no cooking required. Kids love it because it is sweet and the colorful characters on the boxes appeal to them. How many of us have seen children throwing fits in the cereal aisle at the grocery store? All too often, the mother breaks down and buys said child the latest fad in breakfast cereal.

Despite cereal's convenience, porridge holds several advantages over it. Porridge is several times cheaper: think of the price of rolled oats compared to the price of a box of breakfast cereal. Oats are far cheaper, and a container of oats will last longer than a box of cereal will. Rice, cornmeal, and every type of grain beats breakfast cereal in price.

Porridge is substantial and will give you energy until lunch, especially when served with a high-protein food, such as eggs or milk. And it is healthier—most kinds of porridge contain more fiber than breakfast cereal, and you can control the amount of sugar that goes into it. Breakfast cereal companies have to add vitamins to their cereal or they won't have any health benefits to advertise.

Children and even adults in today's society are becoming far too accustomed to excessive sweetness, which is well exemplified in breakfast cereals. A few years ago, one cereal company announced that they were cutting the sugar in their cereals drastically. I was pleased at the announcement, thinking that the cereal would taste much better, until I heard that they were replacing the sugar with an artificial sweetener. It seems that society cannot give up its sweet tooth. No wonder obesity and diabetes are so commonplace.

Now I am not saying there is anything terrible about eating breakfast cereal. It is convenient and can be a lifesaver when you're pressed for time in the morning. But many types of porridge can be made in just a few minutes longer than the time it takes to boil water.

Here are some of my favorite recipes for porridge. Depending on the type of porridge you make, you might like to top it with butter and salt, sugar, honey, dried fruit, maple syrup, yogurt, or granola. When I was small, sometimes my mother would let us stir in a few miniature marshmallows for a treat.


Swedish Rice Porridge

1 large apple, chopped
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup white rice
1 cup water
Pinch salt
3-inch cinnamon stick
4 cups milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a three-quart saucepan. Put in rice, water, salt, and cinnamon and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer 10-15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Add milk. Bring to a simmer and add brown sugar, apple, and raisins. Simmer 45 minutes over low heat. Serves 6.


Oatmeal Shapiro
(from The Mozart Season)

2 cups rolled oats
4 cups water
3 apples, chopped
3 cups vanilla yogurt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey to taste

Boil apple and raisins in the water until tip of a knife goes through apple easily. Add oats and simmer until done. Stir in yogurt, nuts, and flavorings. Serves 6.


Corn Meal Mush

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup cold water
3 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt

Bring 3 cups water and salt to a boil. Mix corn meal with cold water in small bowl. Gradually stir mixture into boiling water. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Serve with honey. Serves 6.


Old-Fashioned Oatmeal

3 cups water
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 teaspoon salt

Simmer water and milk. Meanwhile, heat butter in skillet until foams. Add the oats and toast until golden, about 2 minutes. Stir oats into simmering liquid. Simmer gently about 20 min. Add salt. Continue simmering until thick and creamy. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


  1. Yay! Another porridge fan! We have lots of oatmeal round here. I make oatmeal in my rice cooker which is quick and convenient, but you recipe for old fashioned oats looks reallly interesting and yummy. I'm going to have to try that soon:)

    One thing that we do here occasionally which makes oatmeal a real treat is to have what I call "oatmeal sundaes." I set out an array or things like nuts, dried fruit, preserves, sprinkles and other toppings and let the kids make their own creations. I even use sundae glasses and those long sundae spoons. It's a good way to use up those odds and ends such as that last tablespoon of crushed nuts or a lonely couple of cookie sprinkles in the bottom of the jar... plus the kids think they are getting a huge treat;)

  2. I usually eat porridge (either cream of wheat or oatmeal) before work. It really does fill you up. I've found that it is possible to make a larger batch on one day and eat the same batch all week through. I'll make Irish oatmeal on Monday and then have cream of wheat on the days that the original batch ran out.

  3. Along with porridge, Ilove making granola. It is much better than store bought cereal and is just as convenient, as long as you plan ahead

  4. I loathe cereals. They taste like cardboard, are far too sweet & don't hold you till lunch. In winter we do semolina or rice. To rice or summer's fruit salad we sometimes add either yoghurt or warm custard [home~made ☺]. Breakfast is my least favourite meal of the day but I can manage the semolina ok.

  5. I am not a cold cereal eater. It is just not filling enough. I've always loved oatmeal though and recently became a fan of cornmeal mush. For a special treat I will fry some of it up. Not so healthy but that is why it is a treat and not an everyday thing. :-)

  6. Miss Hannigan: "And, we're NOT having hot mush today."

    Orphans: "Yayyyyyy!"

    Miss Hannigan: "We're having cold mush."

    Orphans: "Ew!! Yuck!!"

  7. Thanks for the recipes. They all look tasty.