Meal Planning Monday ~ Homemade or Store Bought?

 

          “Are you kidding me?!”  I muttered to myself, in the granola bar aisle at Kroger a few weeks ago.  I had plenty of coupons for a variety of granola bars, but not a one of them were on sale!  There’s no way that I am going to spend upwards of $3.50 on a box of 6 granola bars.  Yes, I do stock up on them when they are on sale.  However, my husband, Nick, LOVES sweets and will go through a box of granola bars in two or three days.  This means that I need to buy at least two boxes a week or he will have to do without.  That’s when I decided to find out if it was cheaper for me to make my own granola bars.

            My husband likes pretty much any kind of granola bars that I buy, but one of his favorites is the Golden Grahams Treat bars.  They come in a box of five or six and are over $3.50 when they aren’t on sale.  Sometimes they will be part of Kroger’s Mega Sale and I’ll be able to get them for $1.50 with coupons.  I enlisted the help of my “Try It Out” recipe group on Facebook and received links for the Golden Grahams Treat bars and traditional granola bars.

            The Golden Grahams treat bars were super easy to make!  I regularly stock up on Golden Grahams cereal when it’s on sale, so I already had it on hand.  I just picked up a bag of Kroger mini marshmallows and mini chocolate chips.  The only other ingredient you need is butter.  The recipe made the equivalent of three boxes of store bought treats.  Once cooled, I cut them (with a pizza cutter) into individual sized bars and put them in snack sized baggies.  Nick loved them and said they were MUCH better than the store bought ones.  The boxed Golden Grahams treats would have to be less than $1.30 a box to be a better deal.

            The other granola bar recipe turned out to be really delicious, too.  I made it exactly as the directions indicated, but you could easily mix up the type of nuts and other add-ins to your family’s liking.  Because there were more ingredients in these bars, they were a little bit more expensive to make than the Golden Grahams treats.  This recipe also made the equivalent of three boxes of store bought granola bars.  The approximate cost of the homemade ones was $1.75 per box.  Keep in mind that some of the ingredients in both bars were not on sale. (Shame on me, I know!)  So I will be stocking up on them when they are and driving the cost of my homemade treats down even more!  I did freeze half of the granola bars and treats I made to make sure they stay fresh.

            Is there something that your family eats a lot of that you hate spending money on at the store?  Maybe it’s frozen waffles, spaghetti sauce, or bread.  It’s possible that you could save yourself some serious money over the course of a year by making it homemade.  You’ll need to do a little research on the price of ingredients to see if it is worth your while.  Also consider your time investment.  You may be able to save money baking your own bread, but if you hate to bake and don’t have the time to, you’ll be better off hunting down coupons for your favorite brand and stocking up and freezing extra loaves when it’s on sale.

            So tell me: Is there something you’re currently making homemade instead of buying at the store to save big money for your family?

 

Golden Grahams® Treat Bars  (From TableSpoon.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/3  cup margarine or butter
  • 1 package (10 3/4 ounces) miniature marshmallows (6 cups)
  • 1 package (13 ounces) Golden Grahams® cereal (8 cups)
  • 1 bar (1.55 ounces) Hershey®’s milk chocolate candy, cut into small chunks and frozen

Directions

Butter a rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.  Melt margarine and marshmallows in 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat.  Gently stir in cereal until evenly coated; let stand 1 minute.  Stir in frozen candy chunks.  Press in pan with buttered back of spoon.  Cool completely.  Cut into about 2×1 1/2-inch bars.

** Note: I used 1 cup of mini chocolate chips (frozen), in place of the candy chunks.  You could make this recipe will just about any cereal you like, leaving out the chocolate if you’re making them with a fruity cereal.  (Thanks to Toni White for pointing me to this recipe!)

 

Easy Granola Bars  (From AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sweetened condensed milk, butter, coconut, almonds, chocolate chips, and cranberries with your hands until well blended.  Press flat into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, depending on how crunchy you want them.  Lightly browned just around the edges will give you moist, chewy bars.  Let cool for 5 minutes, cut into squares then let cool completely before serving.

Nutritional Information: Amount Per Serving,  Calories: 179 | Total Fat: 8.1g | Cholesterol: 8mg

** Note: I baked mine for 18 minutes for chewy bars, which is how we like them around here!  Thanks to Tara Zinser for pointing me to this recipe!  Here are a few variations that I am going to try: Macadamia nuts with white chocolate chips; raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon chips; chopped peanuts with chocolate and peanut butter chips.