Over the past few years I've expanded my cooking style and went from what tastes good, to what saves me money. I stopped cooking expensive recipes that required 17 ingredients and started making simple stuff taste really yummy. But lately, having quit my job to live a dream of working for myself, pinching pennies has been a concern. (Shameless plug: Check out my Etsy Shop: Person10 Clothing)
It all started with Granola. About four months ago I started making homemade granola because Ameer would eat a whole $6 box of granola for breakfast in a single day. So I scoured the internet for a simple, healthy recipe then tweaked it a bit and made it my own. Discovering that I could make the same amount of Granola in that $6 box, for around $1 was addicting! I started thinking, what else can I make myself that is expensive normally? So far I've mastered Pasta Sauce, Hummus (I make amazing Hummus!) and Granola Bars / Protein Bars. So I'll save the Pasta Sauce and Hummus for those who truly desire it and only force the Protein Bars on you today.
Talk about pricey. Protein bars are ridiculous! But oh so convenient. Considering most of us are stuck in the cycle of paying too much for things that save us time, I am living the opposite right now. I have more time than money so I'm searching for ways that will save me money, not time. Today I made a 10 pack of portable, Protein Bars for under $3. The most expensive ingredient in the bars, Almonds. If I omit those, the price for 10 bars would be closer to $2. Many of the recipes for Protein bars that I have come across call for Peanut Butter, but since I am allergic to Peanut Butter, those are never an option for me. And these guys are Gluten Free!!!
Here is my version of clean, healthy, pure protein bars.
(Preheat oven at 350 degrees)
- 1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk, but any milk or milk substitute will work)
- 1 Banana
- 2 Tbsp of Coconut Oil (Cold pressed, unrefined. In its solid form.)
- 2 Tbsp Honey* (Optional* I didn't use honey in mine, but if you like a sweeter snack you may want to add some honey or Agave)
-Combine the above ingredients until smooth. You can mash by hand or blend with a hand mixer.
-Once smooth, add:
- 2 scoops Vanilla Protein powder. (Many of us drink this stuff before/after the gym or as a meal substitute. For this recipe I recommend doubling what you normally put in your average shake.)
- 1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
- 1/2 cup Flaxseed meal (Totally optional, I like the Omega-3 that this provides. Click the link for more info on the health benefits)
-Muscle through the mix, as it will get quite dense!
-Prep your cookie sheet. I prefer to line my sheets with parchment paper because, 1) I hate scrubbing pans and 2) I don't like the chemicals in cooking sprays. If you do use skip the parchment paper make sure you spray your pan.
-Spread the mixture onto the cookie sheet. I suggest a thin even layer. The thicker the layer, the longer you have to bake it. And the more dense your bars will be. Thin layers make crispy crunchy bars, thick layers make spongy bars.
-As a finishing touch you can add 1/4-1/2 cup of almonds or raisins for a sweet touch. I chose Almonds, and I piled them on!
-Bake at 350 Degrees for 20-30 minutes. Start with 20 minutes, and check to see how crispy they are then bake in 5 minute increments if more of a crisp is desired.
And no, they don't taste like the stuff in our lunch box in elementary school, but they also have almost no sugar, depending on your protein powder and Milk choice. If you are looking for a wholesome, inexpensive way to feed your face on the go, this is it!
And the best way to keep this cheap is to shop in the bulk section at your local health food store. The honey, oats, flaxseed meal and almonds are all available in the bulk section which allows you to buy only what you need. I buy my oats for about .99 a pound, and I probably use 1/3 of a pound for this recipe.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy!!!