In college, we’re always looking for things that can serve more than one purpose. Need an umbrella? Just hold your history folder over your head. Need a paperclip? Just use a spare bobby pin. Need a bookmark? Just use a receipt lying on the table. This is why oats are a great thing just to have laying around your apartment if you’re in college. You never know when it’s going to come in handy. Besides making really awesome, healthy and filling breakfasts as oatmeal for busy, busy students, oats have other practical uses.

Food Besides Breakfast

“What?” you might be saying to yourself. “How is this possible?” Well, I actually keep a big ole thing of oats in my pantry and it’s not because I eat it as oatmeal. You can actually use oats in a variety of dishes. For example, check out this Asian-style porridge dish known as congee. It combines cooked oats, scallions, and soy sauce. Check out a New York Times food writer’s recipe here. Oats can also be used as a flour substitute, a thickening agent, and even as a healthier version of Shake ‘N Bake. I definitely recommend at least check out the Shake ‘N Bake recipe because it’s super easy to just coat chicken breasts and thighs in something, throw it in the oven, and eat for at least three or four dinners from one night’s work.

I use oats in my mother’s recipe of meatloaf. One pound of ground beef, 1 egg, an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce (not paste, sauce), and half a cup of oatmeal. Mush it together, put it in a loaf pan, and for added flavor, layer two pieces of bacon on top. Stick in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or an hour, and you’ve got the best goddamn meatloaf on the planet. Om nom. Makes plenty for several meals, a must among busy college chefs.

Skin Care

If you’ve wandered into a patch of poison ivy on a trail hike trying out your adventurous side, oats work great to soothe the itch. A quick Google search will give you a variety of easy to make recipes. These work well with dry skin as well. You don’t have the money to go buy expensive lotions, so try oatmeal first. Additionally, if you’ve had a rough week and need to relax, try filling an old sock with ground oatmeal and tossing it into a hot bath. It will work wonders.

Odor Eater

Oatmeal is actually pretty effective at neutralizing odors, much like baking soda. I still haven’t gotten around to buying a box of baking soda for my apartment yet, so if you’re in the same situation and your fridge is getting a bit smelly, stick a bowl of uncooked oats in there to soak up all the bad smells. Also, if you’re a smoker, try lining your ashtray with oats. Apparently, oatmeal can help neutralize cigarette smoke as well.

What multipurpose item do you rely on most as a student? Would you use oats to help you eat, take care of your skin, or get rid of odors? Let us know in the comments!

[via Wise Bread]

[Photo courtesy of sweetbeetandgreenbean. Licensed under CC BY-2.0.]