Ditch the Packaging: Homemade Granola Bars

DIY Homemade Granola Bars

Product packaging is one of the major sources of waste paper and plastics. According to EarthWorks Groups, it accounts for approximately one-third of all the garbage Americans send to landfills.  I recycle, buy what I need and resist the urge to give in to my occasional bout of the “I wants”.  It’s not that I am a “tree hugger” or even consider myself to be an environmentalist. Honestly, I’m more of a minimalist. Or perhaps I’m lazy — more stuff equals more dusting.

It wasn’t until my husband started working from our home office that I realized how much moola we funneled into single-use packaging like a box of granola bars. Each serving came in its own wrapper and then a larger container to keep them all together. While cookies aren’t individually wrapped, I rarely by them in the store because homemade clearly wins the taste test.

Homemade Granola BarsAnd that’s when I had the thought . . . “I can make that.”

While I regularly make my own granola, I have only tried to make the bars from scratch once with less than stellar results.  I don’t think I pressed them firmly into the pan for they just fell apart and, in the end, made for better granola — no bars.

This time around, I used a recipe I found years ago but never tried from the Mother Earth News website. Not only was it easy to follow, but my effort resulted in actual bars. The recipe also offers alternatives and ways to switch up the recipe.

For our version, I added peanut butter and cinnamon. Since I didn’t have sunflower seeds, I used pumpkin seeds. And the role of wheat germ was played by wheat bran — but that was due to a bit of confusion on the cook’s part. All in all, it turned out mighty fine.

Baking your own granola bars means they are a bit healthier without all the preservatives. They help the environment by saving on packaging. But there is one other hidden benefit — they are super-flexible. You want peanut butter ones? Simply add 1/2 cup of PB during the melting of the butter phase.  Don’t have almonds but have peanuts? Add them in. Don’t have enough sunflower seeds? Add what you have.  I call them the “clean out the cupboards” type of recipe — just toss in what you have. It’ll be perfect.

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