Cooking procedures and times vary slightly according to the type of grain, and whether it is a regular or instant variety. Prepare hot cereal with milk or water, and follow the directions on the package. Add dried fruit, chopped walnuts, or crushed flaxseeds to hot cereal, or top cooked cereal with fresh fruit. Combine several varieties of grain for maximum flavor and nutrition. Although best known as a breakfast food, hot cereal can be enjoyed in the afternoon or evening, too.