Monday, July 28, 2008

Frugal Granola Bars

Several months ago, after Dear Husband (DH) was diagnosed with reflux, I started making my own granola bars. He needs to eat many small meals each day, rather than 3 larger meals. There are also a host of foods he cannot eat. Granola bars were a good choice for him, but buying them was expensive. So I began a search for recipes and found: this one

I started with this basic recipe and have tried a few variations, some successfully, some not so much. The original recipe is still very good, though I usually leave out the cinnamon and add peanut butter instead. AND, it’s cheaper than store-bought. Here’s how it breaks down:

Nature Valley Granola $2.50/12 (if bought on sale) = $.21/bar

Mix Together:
3 C Rolled Oats @ $0.22/Cup = $0.66
1 C Wheat Bran @ $0.38/Cup = $0.38
1 t baking powder @ $0.02/tsp = $0.02

Melt Together:
1 C Butter @ $2.00/lb = $1.00
1 ½ C Brown Sugar @ $0.29/Cup = $0.44
1 t Vanilla @ $0.10/tsp = $0.10

Pour melted ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until completely wet. Press mixture into greased 10 x 15 ½ bar pan. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Let cool for a while, refrigerate several hours or overnight before cutting.

Total cost for Home-Made Granola Bars $2.60/33 bars = $0.08/bar

Savings per bar: $0.13! So making the bars from scratch is less than half the cost of buying them! My family eats A LOT of granola bars. Over the course of a year if we eat only 1 bar per day that’s $47.45 saved. That’s enough to fill the gas tank – even at $4.00/gallon.

Despite many tries, I still haven't gotten them as crunchy as my son likes them, so I may revise this recipe in the future. I'm planning to try them with canola oil instead of butter next.

Make your own granola bars is my Kitchen Tip for Tuesday. For more ideas visit Tammy's Recipes here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Frugal Decorating

I finally got sick of the icky-cute ceramic puppies & geese sitting on my kitchen shelf. They were neat when I was (much) younger, but not so much anymore. SO, I decided I needed to redecorate a bit. But, what to do. My budget is super-tight, and the space in between the shelves is tiny - so what to do??

Several weeks ago, I came across some old jelly jars in my parents' basement. The jars hadn't been used in years, and they're not considered safe to use for canning anymore because they're designed for sealing with wax instead of rings and lids.

Then I had an idea - use the jars for decoration!

The jars on top are filled with pasta and popcorn; stuff I use regularly and have to store anyway. The jars in the middle are filled with silk flowers I bought at Michaels' for $0.99/stem (about $5.00 in all) and the jars were all free. The bottom posts have my hot pot mats and the "Dinner Hand" that were all wedding gifts (10+ years ago!)

I'm really enjoying the new look. Definitely nicer than the puppies and geese were.

For more frugal ideas visit Frugal Friday here.