Instructables
Picture of Backpacking Food Bars 3.3
My wife and I have had the privilege of living in Seattle for the past 3 months, and with almost 200 miles of weekend backpacking trips under our belts I’ve had plenty of time to work on improving my backpacking food bars.  I think the current results are much better than the original and 2.0 versions.

As with the previous versions of the bars, my goals are:
1. High in calories, carbohydrates, and protein
2. Shelf stable for at least a week under high temperature and humidity
3. Sufficiently palatable to be eaten multiple times a day for many days in a row
4. Easily and cheaply made from readily available ingredients
5. The Holy Grail: something that even my ever-skeptical wife would be willing to eat.

My apologies up front for the poor lighting in some of the pictures.  The lighting in my kitchen is pretty bad, which is made all the more embarrassing by the fact that I now work for a lighting company.
 
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Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Picture of Tools and Ingredients
P1220533.JPG
Tools:
• Mixing bowl
• Measuring cup
• Measuring spoons (if creating one of the flavor variants)
• Rubber spatula
• Food processor (or knife and cutting board)
• Jellyroll pan
• Aluminum foil
• Oven (preheated to 250F)
• Plastic wrap

Ingredients:
• Sweetened condensed milk (2 cups)
• Nut butter of your choice (2 cups)
• Whey protein concentrate (1 cup)
• Glutinous rice flour (1 cup)
• Nuts (1 cup, chopped)
• Dried fruit  (1 cup, chopped)
srohwer made it!26 days ago

I made these today with regular rice flour and a commercial casein protein powder. I used natural peanut butter, pecans, and chopped dates. They turned out great! It made a batch of 11 and I ordered a musubi press off Amazon. After I use up the rice powder I'll see if I can find or order some GRF and see what the difference is. With all of the variations, it shouldn't take too long!

Backpacking Bars 3.3.jpg
kretzlord3 months ago

This is awesome. I've been looking for a cheap, easy, calorie packed food! How about the name Bachaelor Bars

These bars are fantastic! My personal favorite is the Brownie recipe. I got my chocolate whey protein from GNC. I could eat a whole batch in one sitting, but I may OD on calories lol.
wazzup1051 year ago
Do you somewhere have like a base recipe in metric measurements (grams)? Like X grams dry stuff, Y grams wet stuff ?
Grand Wanderer (author)  wazzup1051 year ago
'fraid not. I keep thinking that all of my cooking and building projects would be so much easier if I could work in metric, but I'm stuck buying measuring cups and lumber in Imperial units. All I could suggest is the various conversion utilities online.
kjbender1 year ago
Excellent recipe! Thank you! My husband and son will be backpacking for a week in Yosemite on an upcoming scout trip. I ran a sample batch and they both really like them. I found Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour at a local market (asian section) and substituted 1/4 cup flax seed whole & 1/4 cup flax seed meal for the 1 cup of nuts. Mostly because I had some on hand and it's a little easier on braces. Baked for about 40 mins after kneading as described and pressing mostly by hand. Texture isn't crumbly, nor sticky. In fact looks and tastes like a slightly chewy cookie. They all fit into a medium ziploc bag (I separated them with parchment paper which they can burn in a campfire and reuse the ziploc when empty for other trash...leave no trace!). The parchment paper may not be necessary, but it should prevent them from sticking together in hot or cold temps. Thanks so much for a great instructable!
Where can I get whey protein concentrate and glutinous rice flour?
Grand Wanderer (author)  animal lover1 year ago
I was able to find both in the baking or health food isles at grocery store chains near my house. Bob's Red Mill brand offered both, if I recall correctly. You will probably have the best luck if you try more upscale or "natural" type stores. The glutinous rice flour can also be found at Asian grocers if there happen to be any in your area (make sure you're really getting unsweetened glutinous rice flour since there area multiple kinds of rice flour). And in a worst case scenario, you can always order stuff online.
Delta8551 year ago
Wth my granola bars i have found the that the Glad Press&Seal wrap works pretty good as oposed to just normal cing wrap.
pfsounder1 year ago
Can you replace the Sweetened Condensed milk with regular Condensed milk??
It would cut down the carbs and calories.
Grand Wanderer (author)  pfsounder1 year ago
Regular condensed milk has a much thinner consistency, so your batter would be thinner, harder to kneed (perhaps you would have to beat it with a whisk instead), and require more baking. You may also want to add some sweetener of your own or you risk some pretty bland bars. I'm also not sure about the shelf life of condensed milk.

The net effect would obviously be to reduce carbs and calories, like you said, but as I envisioned the recipe and it's uses the carbs and calories are the point. Lots of energy in an easy to carry, shelf stable package. If you're just going for a desert bar though, regular condensed milk might work.
What about honey? It's shelf-stable for thousands of years (literally!), and should have a viscosity similar to sweetened condensed milk.

By volume, it's the same amount of calories, but the downside is that you're losing protein from the milk and adding carbs from the honey. I'd be willing to make that trade if it improves the shelf life, though.
I have a recipe that uses just 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, and 1 egg to make really good wheat-free biscuits. If the biscuits are baked dry, the egg doesn't spoil for weeks, so it could make an alternative binding agent (and fat/carb/protein source) for a savoury version. You'd be completely changing the recipe though so probably out of scope for this 'able.
once baked, the egg in the recipie wouldnt spoil since it would be cooked until dry, however the oils in the peanut butter would be the issue for spoilage.
since sweetened condensed milk has a major amount of sugar in it, mix evaporated milk and honey...
Grand Wanderer (author)  b1g0af1 year ago
I tried a few experiments with honey, but the powdered ingredients didn't seem to want to mix with it. The end result was always a gritty suspension of particles in honey instead of a smooth batter. Maybe with more stirring, or better yet a stand mixer, I might have gotten something smooth eventually, but so far SC milk is the only shelf-stable liquid I have found that easily creates a smooth batter.
"Ya' - Buddy"..!
epplebear1 year ago
Try this
Sweeten condensed milk

1 cup powered milk

1/3 cup boiling water

2/3 cup splenda

3 Tablespoons butter.

Mix together in blender Start on low a minute Then on high until smooth.

I love this. I can't have sugar.
that sweetened condensed milk is LOADED with sugar, replace it with evaporated milk and agave syrup (you will have to experiment with the amount to find the correct measurement of the agave syrup. The syrup has a friendlier glycemic index for diabetics
Thank you for that idea. I am a diabetic and having a snackbar for energy and sustaining carb loads is important for us diabetics but at the same time trying to balance exercise and sugars. I use Agave necter for liquid sweetener and Splenda for granular.
obax171 year ago
Have you considered/tried using something other than plastic wrap to wrap them up? I really like this idea but cringe at all that plastic... Not that it would stop me from making them and using something different myself, I'm just curious if you've ever tried a different wrap and if it affects the 'shelf life' of the bars at all?
Grand Wanderer (author)  obax171 year ago
For all intents and purposes shelf life is unaffected by wrapping. The wrap prevents dry bars from grinding against each other and creating a bag full of crumbs, or soft bars from mashing into a single lump. (Both of these are problems I have faced in the field.) Anything that you want to put in between them (foil, paper, etc.) will do the same job just fine.
Cool, thanks for the reply, 'tis good to know. I'll have to give 'em a try soon.
ehudwill1 year ago
What would you estimate the shelf life on these are?
Grand Wanderer (author)  ehudwill1 year ago
It's hard to say because I haven't yet been able to push a sample all the way to spoiling. I know they last at least two weeks, and I suspect they could go three, maybe longer. If you happen to have a quality vacuum sealer I'd venture individually sealed bars could last for months.
Ziploc has a small pump-style vacuum sealer that I use. The sealer itself costs around $8, and quart-sized vacuum bags runs about $2.50 - $3.00 for a box of 15. As long as what you are sealing isn't too juicy, I find they work great. They also make gallon-sized vacuum bags, but I find quart-size to be perfect for individual servings or smaller quantities.
Two weeks sounds good. I don't think they would last longer than that around my house. I might have to borrow a vacuum sealer from someone.
lol'd @ The Wife Test :)
tcarney571 year ago
In the early 1970s my mother did a lot of experimenting with texturized vegetable protein (TVP). It's made from soy--essentially it's tofu that's been puffed up, leaving a spongy texture. It's then dried in pieces about half the size of a peanut. It's available in plain or various meat flavors. Artificial bacon bits are made of TVP.

A well-stocked natural food store will carry it in bulk bins. It can of course be web-bought. I bet this would be a great thing to add to your bars, making lunch and dinner bars in addition to breakfast-y ones.
EmmettO1 year ago
On the note of nut allergies. Sunbutter is a sunflower based spread that could work. My wife is allergic to nearly everything (nuts, peanuts, citrus, peas, beans, lentils, celiac) can have Sunbutter.
vref_guy1 year ago
I made a close variant of these (version 2 I believe) back in the spring time this year based on this Instructable. Froze half the "brick" I made and took the other on a trip with a buddy. Both of us thought it was tasty and no worse than some of the alternatives. I thawed out the other half last week in my checked luggage heading to the Alps. It survived a week with temperatures ranging from the 90s to the 40s (F) and I ate it myself as my partner is not found of the peanut butter I had in them. Great Instructable!
blarg77891 year ago
is that up at flapjack lakes ???
Grand Wanderer (author)  blarg77891 year ago
That's Camp Siberia, just below Anderson Pass in Olympic National Park.
for those of you out there with nut allergies you can substitute the nut butter with sun butter (sunflower seed butter) fig paste or partially dehidrated apple sauce and the nuts with toasted grains. if you want the extra calories that come from the nut butter you can add a few tablespoons of an oil of your choice like sunflower, coconut, soybean, palm kernal, rapeseed (canola), grape seed, rice bran or safflower oils to make up for the fats lost when not using the nut butters. also adding some flax seed oil and or meal will boost the omega 3 content in the bars.
contessa101 year ago
Just made a couple of batches of these bars and they seem to be a big hit at our house. The first batch was pretty much exactly as described, with peanut butter and a mixture of nuts and dried fruits...tasty! In the second batch, I used rolled oats instead of nuts (to increase the fiber content) and banana chips with peanut butter...extremely yummy!
A couple of suggestions: If you have a Kitchen-Aid (or other sturdy brand) stand mixer with a dough hook, use it! It makes combining the ingredients and kneading the dough a snap. And, if you went the hand-pressed route, use a pizza cutter to cut the baked dough into bars. So much easier than trying to keep a straight line with a knife. Happy baking!
richardsan1 year ago
the MRE "ranger bar" is pretty tasty...is this very close to that? anyone have that recipe?
Oh man! These are great. I have had some friends tinker with customized super-bars for extended trips, but these look all-powerful. Thanks for the share.