My husband and I eat a fair number of Nature Valley granola bars, which run us about $3 for 12 pre-wrapped bars, or about $.25 a bar. Could I make these myself? Here’s my version of a recipe I found in my favorite cookbook, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.
I have not calculated exactly how much this recipe costs to make, but it yields three times as many bars as one box from the store and tastes a lot better!
What do you make instead of buy to save money?
7 c old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 c honey
1/2 c brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 t cinnamon
2-3 large scoops peanut butter
1 c walnuts or other nut, chopped
1/2 c chocolate chips
This recipe makes about 36 bars and takes 1.5 hours from start to finish, including cooking time.
Heat oven to 375. Mix oats with oil and salt. Pour into two trays or cookie sheets and spread evenly. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring at least once. Heat the honey and brown sugar in a small pan and when dissolved, add vanilla and cinnamon off heat. When oats are a golden brown, pour into a large bowl and mix with the sugar solution. Turn oven down to 300.
To make two kinds of bars, peanut butter and chocolate chip, separate oats into two large bowls. Add peanut butter to one bowl while oats are still warm. This will help melt the peanut butter evenly into the oats. In the other bowl, stir in nuts and chocolate chips. The chips will mostly melt (I have no idea how manufacturers get their chips to come out whole) but you’ll still get that chocolate flavor.
You can make your own variations with whatever nuts, dried fruit, or treats you desire!
Line two cookie trays with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking oil. Press the mixture into each tray with a large spoon or metal spatula, dipping it into a cup of water often. (This reduces the amount of granola that sticks to your utensil.) Cook for 35-40 minutes. (This might seem like a long time but cooking less will increase crumbliness.)
Leave in tray while cooling for 15 minutes on wire rack or cold surface. Cut bars decisively into rectangles in the pan and then let the bars cool completely before you attempt to pick them up. I store half in a plastic bag or tupperware for up to two weeks and eat the other half!