Picture of DIY Shelf Stable Energy Bars

As preppers/survivalists, my wife and I are always looking for shelf stable foods to add to our storage and bug out bags, one of the things we have spent our money on are various MetRx, Cliff, and “granola” bars. While the various store bought bars have a variety of flavors and the calories, proteins, carbs, and fats you need in a survival/bug out situation their biggest downfall is their cost.

A few months ago I started experimenting with various recipes and ingredients and came up with a DIY energy bar that is tasty, low cost, and most important shelf stable for at least 6 months.

Step 1: Ingredients and tools

Picture of Ingredients and tools


2 cups rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups honey roasted peanuts or nuts of your choice (chopped or crushed)

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (1 can)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups peanut butter (I used extra chunky)

2/3 cup water 

You will also need two large mixing bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, large wooden spoon, and a large kitchen knife.

KjrèJ made it!2 months ago

Thank you so much for this recipe!

Since I am using these as a quick meal and not part of my survival stash, I substituted evaporated milk for the condensed milk to cut back on a lot of sugar. I added a heavy tablespoon of blackstrap molasses to add a little moisture for baking, and they turned out awesome!! I found that 45 minutes of dehydrating @ 170 in my oven gave me a firm, but internally-chewy texture.

IMG_20150615_181705.jpgIMG_20150616_184324 (1).jpg
KjrèJ KjrèJ2 months ago

I also added 1/4 cup of toasted, dry quinoa to further buff the protein content

P.S. my fellow BOB, do you think "dry" roasted nuts might be preferable, for long-term storage purposes? I mean, the more dry we can get, ....

Hello and Ty! Only thing I see lacking in your (genuinely generous) recipe is the "DATE" you created this life saver... and possibly a follow-up since finding your forgotten 6 mo. stash. Times are most worrisome today. I'm knowledgeable but just getting started. No time or money to waste. Do you have any follow-up to offer? God Bless you --Michelle

outstanding. Made them a few days ago. Kids love them, I love them, cheaper then store bought and something that I will be keeping in the BOB, car, and my work for those calls that go way too long. Thank you very much for the recipie

SparkySolar10 months ago

I love this instructable thank you so much

What size pan did you bake these in? Doesn't appear to be a 9x13...

tomsweet65 (author)  cindypitts8211 year ago

You would be correct. It is a 10x15 cookie sheet. If I put 9x13 in the text some where I apologize.

Thanks for the comment!

Train to Survivae!


Ikadeo1 year ago

In order to reduce fat, sodium, and sugar, I think that replacing the peanut butter with two mashed bananas would be beneficial. Also, using unsweetened instead of sweetened condensed milk would cut down sugar. I'm going to try using those substitutions once I run out of the ones I made using your exact recipe and let you know how it goes. But I have low blood sugar, so maybe taking all of that sugar out won't be a good idea.

mnemeth21 year ago

Just wondering... Do you think removing the Milk from the recipe would give it a greater shelf life?

tomsweet65 (author)  mnemeth21 year ago

I have tried the recipe without the milk and gotten another 3-4 months out of them... We just finished off a batch made with milk that was vacuum sealed 18 moths ago (with O2 absorbers) that tasted the same as the day they were made... The batch without milk lasted about 24 months packed the same way.

Thanks for the comment!

Train to Survive!

I think I might boost your recipe by substituting 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Chia seeds (yes, the same ones used for Chia pets) for an equivalent amount of the rolled oats and see how that bakes up. Here's a comparison of both, (per cup):

Chia = 1109
Oats = 311

Chia = 40 grams
Oats = 13 grams

Chia = 99
Oats = 54

If you buy the seeds in bulk you can get them down to about $7 per pound or even less.  It's a little hard to make the translation to cups, but I figure the seeds would add somewhere around 30 cents cost to one of your bars, but quite a bit more nutritious.   Be interesting to see how this would affect the texture (but I'd prolly throw a few tbsp of honey into the recipe too).
gunman151 year ago
I hope that you don't mind that I printed out the recipe, I liked the last one and i like this one even better, so do my team that will be BUGGING ____ with me, there are 4 teams of 5 we stick in convoys, 1 drives in each armored van, the remaining 4 are in different locations in the vans, we really like your recipe and WILL be stocking up! Thanks for the help, this will also be easier to compact and store in our B.O.B.s (Food Supply) and our stockpile.
Any guess on the shelf life?
tomsweet65 (author)  LiftAndLove1 year ago
The ones my daughter is eating in the "3 year old tested, 3 year old approved" section of the Instructable are a day shy of 6 months old. I haven't stored any of the bars for longer than that so I can't say for certain if they would last longer than that or not. For our needs 6 months is a good storage life on something like an energy bar, since we do train on Bug Out scenarios we tend to use what is in our bags so the food, water, etc. is rotated at least 4 times a year.

Thanks for the comment!

Train to Survive!

Check us out at:

Looks yummy!
YPF2 years ago
Nice recipe. Personally I don't put water and the bars are still nice and soft.
I recommend to use a musubi press to shape the bars before backing (http://www.amazon.com/Spam-Musubi-Sushi-Press-K5SPS/dp/B000FWOB5S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376569652&sr=8-1&keywords=musubi+press). They are more firm and you can make them thicker. This way, they don't get smashed in pieces in our backpack.
Cotb YPF2 years ago
Or just press the spread dough into the pan with the bottom of a second cookie sheet.
YPF Cotb2 years ago
You are right, this is a quicker solution. However, from experience I found out that it can be a bit more messy. My cookie sheet was not very deep so it was not practical for the compaction process. Unless you aim for some thin bars.

Another advantage of shaping the bars before baking instead of after is that the baking process is more homogeneous. When you bake a large slab the center part might not be ready while the edges are getting dry. Since I pre-shape the bars I don't have that problem anymore.
Cotb YPF2 years ago
I like your plan as it would provide some attractive uniformity. How do your bars keep their shape while baking? Don't they spread?
YPF Cotb1 year ago
No, they don't change shape at all. Note that I don't put water in my version, so the mix is soft enough to be shaped but it doesn't spread when I pull out the press.
july19622 years ago
How can something with a milk product in it be stable for that long?
YPF july19622 years ago
It's not just milk but condensed milk, which just happen to contain some preservatives. Hence the stability.
The main killer I would say is the added water. If you don't dehydrate the bars they won't last long. Without added water the baking process only (no dehydration) gave me a good results for two weeks. I didn't dare testing after a longer period.
tomsweet65 (author)  july19622 years ago
I am only guessing, but I think baking and then dehydrating them even further helps with keeping them from going bad... I wouldn't recomend keeping them much longer than I did, which was quite accidental to begin with...
Thanks for the comment!
Train to Survive!
Talenthia2 years ago
I made these today... not bad. I'm sending them with my husband and son on a canoe/kayak trip this weekend. I didn't want to drag down the dehydrator so I did the oven trick and they are still a little bit more moist than I thought they would be. I'll seal some up individually and save for hikes and other trips and throw a few in their camelbaks for this weekend and see how they like them.
Hey tomsweet65,
I used Wolframalpha.com . It is a awesome site that will (has) revolutionized the internet. Wolframalpha.com returns computations on your inputs. For example, enter 1 cup of peanuts, or Netflix, or 'Plot Sin[x] +Cos[x]', or 'the GDP of the USA per capita".

Saying all that, I could have done it all wrong too. Remember I added your total ingredients, you probably did it per serving. My results are for if you sat down and ate the whole batch (which I might end up doing anyway).
tomsweet65 (author)  richardgreco2 years ago
Thanks! I will check out the site... as far as I could with the information on the individual ingredients I. Tried to figure the per serving information... that said, math(at least anything more than 2+2... or windage and temperature adjustments...lol) has never been my strong point... Thanks again for the site info!
Train to Survive!
sorry, missed the upload the first time.
tomsweet65 (author)  richardgreco2 years ago
What program did you use to get the break down in the pictures? I used the nutritional info for the individual ingredients and from what you posted I may have gotten it very wrong... Thanks for the comment and the pictures!
Train to survive!
I am going to try and make these. I took the liberty to have WolframAlpha calculate the nutrition for this recipe. I had to break the ingredients up into two batches because WolframAlpha didn't like all the ingredients at once.
wilki2422 years ago
Sounds good but how about a diabetic version?
scubacarl2 years ago
I'll try to put the homemade bars in my "Bug-out bag" good job.
zinixo2 years ago
If you don't plan on keeping them too long, could you skip the dehydration step?
saxon10142 years ago
That's an awesome tutorial and break down! Very cool. I wonder about adding sunflower kernels, flax, dates...with the sugar content of the dates, and the oil content of the nuts & seeds, would that effect the shelf life?
nidanterry2 years ago
Just made with my kids. Good stuff.
orbit.al2 years ago
thanks for that. plain it is then.
orbit.al2 years ago
looks tasty. want to try this, but one question. (Not being a great cook). Is 'general purpose' flour plain or self-raising? Sorry if this is a dumb question.
tomsweet65 (author)  orbit.al2 years ago
All purpose flour is not the same as self rising, self rising flour has some yeast in it I believe (not sure since I am not that great a cook either) where regular all purpose flour does not... You can use self rising flour but the bars don't tend to hold together as well and the bars tend to be kind of doughy... The only dumb question is one you don't ask...
thanks for the comment/question!

Train to Survive
Self rising flour has baking powder in it, not yeast.