I think I knew it would come to this. Cooking more. I like cooking but I don’t want to complicate my life.
I’ve been vacillating between these thoughts. On the one hand, are we really so incredibly lazy that we can’t pour juice out of a big container into smaller ones? And on the other hand thinking, “Ahhh! I can barely cook dinner, don’t take away my individually wrapped cheese sticks!” What we’re willing to give up in order to use less packaging and be more eco-conscious is a personal one for sure.
I have a lot of areas to tackle, but I started with my husband’s breakfast. My husband loves breakfast bars and has eaten them every day of our marriage. Before that he ate mashed potatoes and spaghettios for breakfast. It took him six months to tell me that when we were dating because he was embarrassed by it. Fortunately he doesn’t read my blog. Anyway, I digress.
So, his breakfast bars come in foil lined wrappers. We used to buy a different brand but it had high fructose corn syrup in it, so I switched to a super expensive organic brand that we’ve been spending a ton of money on for the past few years. Then my four year old decided it was one of five allowable foods and now he’s hooked also. But if I could get Dr. Chemical Engineer to eat something else, then we’d be in a position to use fewer foil lined wrappers and possibly save money as well.
I was looking at the aforementioned bar and noticed that it looked a lot like a rice crispy treat, only with about 50% rolled oats. So I started an experiment. Granted, Nature’s Path Organic does not use marshmallows and uses all organic ingredients which I did not. I’m going to try maple syrup or honey shortly, but I needed it to succeed and I was about 99% sure that marshmallows would work.
1/4 c butter
1 bag of marshmallows (10 oz)
2 teaspoons of strawberry extract or flavoring (optional)
3 c crispy rice cereal (2.8 oz)
3 1/2 c rolled oats (10 oz)
1 ounce of Freeze Dried Strawberries
1/2 c flax seeds (2.5 oz)
This is very similar to making rice crispy treats. First, melt the butter and marshmallows, then add the extract.
Next, add the crispy rice cereal, rolled oats, freeze dried strawberries and flax seeds.
Then stir it all together so that it gets everything super sticky.
Press into a 9×13 pan with the back of a spatula (be sure to spray first!).
For more professional results, flip it out onto a cutting board after it’s cooled and cut them with a knife. Cutting them in the pan doesn’t look pretty but still works.
Note to self: you are not a food photographer.
This is the first food change we’ve made so far that’s really stuck. Probably because it takes about 10 minutes a week.
My husband, who is not exactly a foodie, likes these better because he says they taste fresher (because they are??). I am guestimating that this batch costs about $10, which makes about 24 oz, or 24 bars, or $.41 cents a bar.
On Amazon they cost $.60 per bar or per ounce, since each bar is about an ounce (this is the cost with Amazon Subscribe and Save – at the store or just purchasing regularly from Amazon, it’s more expensive).
That feels a little discouraging to me, but then I realized that if he eats two of them each day, that saves us about $146 a year, so I’d say an overall win, though my real motivation is the 730 foil lined wrappers we are not using each year.
As for what the ingredients come in – all of it is easily recycled, but I’ll be buying bulk when I can.
These do taste different than the originals (the 4 year old won’t eat them), but I think I would need to add sugar to make them taste more similar, which I’d rather not do. Since he’s happy, my only goal now is to figure out how to substitute the marshmallows with something less processed. I’m thinking honey or maple syrup.
Confession: I have the ingredients to make cliff bars and my favorite granola but have not attempted it because it seems overwhelming. I am happy with this project though, and thought I would share to maybe encourage some thinking about what kind of food habits we can easily change that end up having a big impact on our waste output.