Homemade Granola and Granola Bars – A Two-fer to Save Time and Dishes

I am an efficiency freak.  If I can save time or combine a trip, even if it’s just around the corner four feet to the bathroom, I’ll load up and figure out how to take the fewest number of steps.  This can be a problem sometimes, like the pile of stuff at the top of the stairs to go down on my next trip, or when my 4-year-old son says, “I’ll put away my toys next time I’m in my room.”  He learns from the best!

I especially have a dislike of dishes, and I’ll try to pull a “two-fer” whenever possible.  Making homemade granola and granola bars is one of those golden opportunities.

TimesaverGet all ingredients out for both recipes at once. There are enough crossovers that this definitely saves steps.

You can also just use the same mixing bowl and many of the same measuring utensils if you make the granola first.

Recipe: Mom’s Homemade Granola

This really is my mom’s recipe.  I have fond memories of taking it for a snack at school.  You can “drink” the granola from the bowl and then have a cup of milk next to it.  I swear, it’s almost better that way than the traditional milk-on-top in a bowl method!

There are about a million different recipes for granola and you can find most of them on the Internet.  I will be trying some other ones, someday, when I’m in an adventurous mood.  For now this is my favorite, not only because of the nostalgia and habit, but because it really tastes good, with a light, slightly coconutty flavor, and there are ONLY EIGHT ingredients.  Some of the other recipes I’ve found take up a whole page.  Just not into that right now!

Mix well:                                  Mix well:

3 c. oats                                  ¼ c. oil (melted coconut oil or butter works great)
½ c. sunflower seeds         ¼ c. honey
½ c. nuts                                 1/6 c. water
½ c. coconut*                        1 tsp. vanilla

Combine wet and dry together.  Pour into 9×13 pan or a cookie sheet.

Toast in a 350 degree oven.  Stir after 10 minutes, then more frequently until browned (every 5).  Store in an airtight container.

Other add-ins, before or after baking:

  • ground flax
  • wheat germ
  • sesame seeds
  • dried fruit (after baking)
  • cinnamon

I make a double batch almost every time I do this.  It works well but takes a long time to brown, so try baking potatoes for dinner at the same time (you can stir every 7 minutes with a double batch in a 9×13 pan).  You’ll learn the finesse of turning the granola without getting it all over out of the pan.  Stir from the outside in, down and then up in the center.

If you use cookie sheet(s), watch it very closely.  Better to err on the side of not brown enough than too brown, which happens quickly at the end!

*Try to find unsweetened coconut if you can.  I just discovered it at my health food store.  I also use crispy nuts now – you either know what these are or you don’t – and I add them after baking so they’re not subjected to 350 degrees after I worked so hard to dehydrate them.


Cost:  $1 to $1.25
Super foods: 3, 4 if you use walnuts

Recipe: Katie’s Granola Bars

While the granola is baking, you should be in the kitchen anyway since you have to stir every 5-7 minutes.  I use this time to whip up these chewy granola bars, which can wait in the bowl while I clean up and wait for the granola to be finished and cool enough to store.  I often make dinner while this is all happening, too (did I mention I’m an efficiency freak?).

My family has fallen in love with these bars.  I can’t keep them on hand fast enough.  You can store them right in the 9×13 pan, covered, or cut into bars and store in any tightly sealed container.  If you were going to keep them around more than a week, I would recommend freezing them right away to preserve the best flavor.  Around here, we haven’t had to do that yet!

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour, or spelt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter, softened*
1 cup honey
Add-ins: 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped walnuts
other options include dried fruits, sunflower seeds, coconut, nuts…
*If you have hard butter, you can roll it under wax paper with a rolling pin.

Lightly butter a 9×13-inch pan.  In a large mixing bowl combine butter and honey first.Then add all ingredients except add-ins.  Beat hard until combined.  Stir in add-ins.  Press mixture into pan — really jam it in there so your bars don’t fall apart.  (You can use your hands!)  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into bars.  Let bars cool completely in pan before removing and serving.

I get at least 20 good-sized bars from this recipe.  I figure it might be the equivalent of 3 boxes of Quaker chewy granola bars, so even though butter and honey are on the pricey side, this still works out to be nicely frugal.

Adapted from a recipe in Faith and Family magazine

Cost:  $2.50-3.00
Super Foods:  2 plus an honorable mention, up to 4 super foods if you use walnuts and sunflower seeds


  • Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and skip the chocolate chips
  • Use 1/2 cup natural peanut butter in place of 1/2 cup of butter (tried this today – it is divine!)
  • The honey flavor is very distinct in this recipe, but when using peanut butter, it almost disappears.  I’m wondering if PB is sweet enough that I can cut out some honey and just use water instead.  ??
  • What else can you do with these?  Do share!

Added Bonus:  You also only have to turn the oven on once and can use the same 9×13 glass baking dish for both recipes, saving energy/$ and yet another dirty dish!

What do you think?



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