My brother and I recently completed a ninety mile backpacking trip on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail in Vermont. As part of the provisions we carried with us we both made food bars from scratch. They were easy to make, easy to carry, and had twice the food value of common commercially available products at a comparable cost.
Step 1: Ingredients:
Crunchy peanut butter (1/2 cup)
Caramel cubes (1/4 cup, approx. 10 cubes)
Semisweet chocolate chips (1/4 cup)
Sweetened condensed milk (1 cup)
Oatmeal (1/2 cup) (wheat germ may be an even more food-dense alternative)
Protein powder (1.5 cup)
Walnuts, diced (1/2 cup)
Raisins (1/4 cup)
Craisins (1/4 cup)
When purchasing materials in the store, be sure to compare brands to get the product with the highest food value per unit volume. I focused on calorie, carbohydrate, and protein content.
Step 2: Tools
Mixing spoon (good and sturdy)
Pots for double boiler
Step 3: Wet Ingredients:
Set up the double boiler on the stove, filling the larger pot to about one third full with water and setting the burner to slightly less than medium heat. In the smaller pot mix the chocolate chips, caramel cubes, peanut butter, and sweetened condensed milk. Heat and stir occasionally until all ingredients have melted into an even consistency.
Step 4: Dry Ingredients:
In the mixing bowl, stir together the oatmeal, protein powder, walnuts, raisins, and craisins. Stir in the melted ingredients from the double boiler until mixed evenly. Press the mixture into a greased jellyroll pan so that it is flush with the lip of the pan. I found that my fingers were actually the most effective tools for manipulating the sticky mixture. One recipe should fill about a third of a standard size jellyroll pan
Step 5: Baking:
Preheat the oven to 300F and bake the mixture for 30 minutes. This step may be optional. My brother did not bake his mixture, and it worked out just fine. However, it does have the benefit of driving off excess moisture and reducing weight.