Home made muesli bars are a simple zero waste snack to include in school lunch boxes to avoid single-use plastics. This recipe is very easy to make, and it can be made in batches and frozen for convenience.
These muesli bars are healthy and still sweet, so they probably aren't technically a ‘health food’, but I love knowing I can have these made with minimal effort, from real food, and it doesn't contain extra preservatives (or whatever else the shop bought ones have that give that weird after taste - is it just me that notices that?)
I first started making these because I felt I was getting ripped off buying individually wrapped lunchbox snacks at the shop and was always spending way too much time looking at all the ingredients and trying to pick the best one, with the least packaging.
I hated all the plastic that came with them and it all seemed pretty unsatisfying when I had to keep throwing out half eaten muesli bars and the chocolate chips do not taste like real chocolate!
Very few brands use real chocolate and wording on packets can be interesting.
Did you know if the term 'choc-chip' is used then it doesn't have to be real chocolate? Always look for 'chocolate chip' instead.
Here are the ingredients in one of the popular and probably better brands of muesli bars:
"Rolled Oats (34%), glucose (wheat), whole grain wheat (11%), compound chocolate chips (9%) [sugar, vegetable oil, milk solids, cocoa, cocoa mass, emulsifiers (492, soy lecithin), salt], wheat puffs (wholemeal wheat flour (5%), wheat starch, sugar, antioxidant [307b]), sunflower oil (soy), dietary fibre (inulin), sugar, humectant (glycerine), modified wheat starch (1412), invert sugar, coconut (sulphites), honey, milk powder, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavour, salt, preservative (223) (sulphites).
Contains gluten containing ingredients, milk, soy and sulphites
May contain lupin."
It's certainly not the worst thing in the world, but if you want to avoid some of the hidden extras, and the single-use plastic it really is easy to make your own.
And, if you are trying to get sulphites out of your life, you can skip adding the dried fruit OR source some that are sulphite free, which is commonly available in bulk food shops.
Making Muesli Bars Zero Waste
> The majority of these ingredients are readily available at bulk food stores.
> If you don't have good access to zero waste shops, then look for ingredients that are packaged in paper and cardboard. I can get Australian oats and sugar in recyclable packaging at my local supermarket which makes this a lot easier.
> The recipe calls for a cup of puffed rice , but you can substitute this with any cereal including corn flakes, weetbix or whatever else you happen to have.
> You can also swap and change the types of dried fruit and seeds you use and base it on what is easiest to find in bulk, what is in your pantry, or the cheapest at the time.
> Butter is generally not available zero waste, but you can make different versions at home if you have plenty of time.
> You do not need baking paper
> If you can't find chocolate chips at the bulk store, breaking up a block of chocolate works just as well.
In the picture below, you can see a shard of chocolate -
I didn't have quite enough chocolate chips for the recipe!
3 Cups of Rolled Oats
1 Cup of Puffed Rice (or other cereal)
1/2 Cup Sultanas
1/2 Cup of cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1/4 Cup of sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup of sesame seeds
1/2 Cup of honey
1/2 Cup of sugar
1/2 Cup of good quality chocolate chips
120 grams of butter (+ a little extra to grease the tray)
2-3 tsp. of Cinnamon
Feel free to add your own variations into this recipe. I have been meaning to do a hazelnut chocolate version or an apricot & white chocolate...YUM.
I used to blitz the seeds in a food processor before adding, then I got lazy and the kids haven't noticed yet. Each time I make it, I increase the sunflower & sesame seeds just a little to make it healthier each time.
1. Preheat your oven to 170 Degrees Celsius
2. In a mixing bowl, combine oats, puffed rice (or your choice of cereal), seeds, dried fruit & cinnamon
3. In a small pot, melt the butter, and mix in the sugar & honey until the sugar dissolves
4. Pour the butter mixture into the mixing bowl and stir it through
5. Add Chocolate chips last and stir (if you add them in the beginning they will melt and you will not have visible chocolate chips)
6. Grease a slice tray with butter - choose one that is around 30cm x 20cm
7. Tip the mixture into the tray and press it down hard - you really want to compress this so it doesn't crumble once cooked.
8. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. It should be a nice golden colour. (Cook an extra 5 minutes for a crunchy version)
9. Leave in the tray to cool and then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight
10. Once cooled, remove the entire block of muesli bar from the tray and then slice it up into squares or rectangles
If you are left with some crumbs or broken pieces at the end, these can be stored in a jar or dish in your fridge and make a great breakfast cereal topper in the mornings.
This recipe makes around 14 generous sized muesli bars and keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
It can also be frozen and defrosted at room temperature. (If adding to school lunch boxes, these will be defrosted by recess time)
Head here for more simple recipes and tips to cut the waste