Introduction: 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.
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Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Mixing, Kneading, Putting It in the Pan, and Baking
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.
Measure the various DRY ingredients and place them in one of the mixing bowls, stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Measure the various WET ingredients, EXCEPT THE WATER, and place them into the other mixing bowl, stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Slowly add the DRY ingredients to the bowl containing the WET ingredients and kneed all ingredients together, adding the water a little at a time until well blended.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray (I use butter flavor personally). Dump the dough you just kneaded into the center of the cookie sheet and press the mixture firmly into the pan. The more pressure you can use pressing the mixture into the pan the better the bars will hold together when you cut them out.
Place the pan on the center oven rack and bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes. When they are done baking remove and cool for 20 minutes in the pan.
Step 3: Cutting and Dehydrating
Once you have let the baked dough cool for the 20 minutes move the pan to a large counter top and flip the pan so that the bottom is now the top. Remove the foil and cut the baked dough into whatever size bars you want (I cut mine approx. 2”x4”).
Place the bars on your dehydrator racks and dehydrate them at 135 degrees for 1 hour. If you don’t have a dehydrator (you should really get one!) decrease the oven temp to 200 degrees, re-line the pan with aluminum foil, place the bars so there is at least 1” all the way around each bar, and put back in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Either way once they are done cooking cool the bars completely.
Step 4: Sealing and Storage
Once the bars a cooled completely I sealed most of them in food saver ™ bags, put them away and totally forgot about them, that was six months or so ago. While going through the cabinets I found the bars we hadn’t eaten when they were made and decided today would be a good time to see if they were still good (remember I originally made them to see if I could make something shelf stable at low cost).
After cutting the seal on one of the food saver ™ pouches the first thing I did was the smell test (if it smells rancid it probably is), it passed the smell test! I pulled it from the pouch and it was still moist and soft, it passed the second test! I broke a small piece off the bar and nibbled it down to check the flavor (which was mmmmm tasty!) and then waited to see if my stomach would reject it, it didn’t! So I tore off a bigger bite, chewed it up, and swallowed it down without any adverse reactions. After eating two of the bars back to back I am still here!
Step 5: 3 Year Old Tested, 3 Year Old Approved
Once I was sure I wasn’t going to get sick eating 6 month old DIY energy bars, I brought in the ultimate taste tester, my 3 year old daughter. She is in that “I don’t like it phase” of her life and has become the pickiest of eaters. If she likes them, they have to be good, as anyone with a child in that phase knows perfectly well.
She not only ate the one in the picture but proceeded to eat 2 more which is the most she has eaten of anything in one sitting in the past month!
Step 6: Conclusion
These bars cost about $.55 each compared to $1.89 or more for the store bought bars. Nutritionally they stack up rather well against the store bought bars. You can add to, substitute, or subtract from the recipe fairly easily.
I have made a variation of this recipe in which I subtracted the peanut butter, added 8oz. of pineapple/orange juice, and 1 ½ cup of raisins and came out with a very tasty bar.
A quick note on dehydrating the bars, you don’t want the bars to be totally dehydrated like jerky. When you pull them off the trays (or out of the oven) they should still be a little moist and soft. You can dehydrate them all the way down and have a nice crumble for your Cheerio’s ™ and milk in the morning.
Nutritional Breakdown (Based on the information provided with the individual ingredients and some math)
- 320 calories
- total fat: 1.9g
- saturated fat: .5g
- cholesterol: 8.7mg
- protein: 15g
- carbohydrates: 50g
- Note that this is approximate as the size of the bars can (obviously) vary a bit, and is based on the recipe yielding only 24 bars.
How does this nutritional profile compare to commercially available energy bars?
4 Fig Newton’s
As you can see, the homemade bars compare very favorably to the commercially available alternative, they taste great, are shelf stable, and are far less expensive!
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