Protein bars have a standing position on my weekly grocery list, whether I buy them by the box or purchase them individually.
A single bar costs anywhere from $1.49 to $3, and buying them by the box takes a considerable chunk of change out of my food budget. Keeping a steady household supply stocked isn’t really an option… or is it?
Enter do-it-yourself protein bars. Yep. You can pretty much DIY everything with a little effort.
Investing in a few base ingredients like grains, protein powder, nuts, natural sweeteners and peanut butter yields dozens of options to play with in the kitchen.
Even better, you know exactly what’s in those bars and eventually can whip ’em up in a hangry crunch or grab ’em on the go, all for a fraction of the store-bought cost.
I rounded up some simple, low-cost and minimal-effort recipes. Look, I like to cook, but I also can barely get off the couch some days. Feel free to experiment and add a little something extra if that’s what your inner Martha Stewart desires.
4 Homemade Protein Bars That Cost 65 Cents or Less Per Serving
Satisfy your sweet tooth and quiet your stomach with these homemade protein bar recipes.
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
Sometimes you need a little sugary indulgence and an energy boost all in one. This recipe by My Thyme for Health definitely hits that sweet spot.
- ½ cup honey: $3.49 for 12 ounces, or $1.75
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter: $2.18 for 18 ounces, or 55 cents
- 3 cups brown rice cereal: $1.49 per 6 ounces, or $1.55
- ¼ cup protein powder: $19.43 for 2.03 pounds, or 86 cents
- ½ cup chocolate chips (pre-chilled in freezer): $1.99 for 12 ounces, or 49 cents
Total cost: $5.20
Servings: 12 bars
Price per bar: 43 cents
Combine and melt the honey and peanut butter in a medium pot over low heat. Once they’re well-blended, remove the pot from the heat.
Then, add the brown rice cereal and protein powder to the pot, and stir everything together.
Finally, add the chilled chocolate chips, and mix well.
Pour the mixture into an 8-by-8-inch dish lined with parchment paper. Put another piece of parchment paper over the top of the mixture and use your hands to flatten it down, making it as smooth and even as possible across the dish and top.
Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours), or freeze for 1 to 2 hours. Once it’s ready, pull the mixture out of the dish using the parchment paper, and cut it into 12 bars.
You can use an alternative to peanut butter or substitute raisins or dried fruit for the chocolate chips. Find which option delights your palette!
Strawberry Protein Bars
There might be a theme with sweet and chocolate here. The heart wants what the heart wants. These strawberry protein bars from 2014 and Beyond are sure to hit the spot.
- 3 large fresh strawberries: $2.99 for 16 ounces, or 27 cents
- ¼ cup strawberry protein powder: $16.13 for 2 pounds, or 73 cents
- 3 tablespoons of coconut flour: $3.28 for 16 ounces, or 15 cents
- ¼ cup of milk (almond, soy or regular): $2.69 for ½ gallon, or 17 cents
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil: $4.99 for 16 ounces, or 16 cents
- 40 grams (about 4 squares) of dark chocolate: $2 for 6.8 ounces, or 41 cents
Total cost: $1.89
Servings: 6 bars
Price per bar: 32 cents
Line a tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Combine all ingredients except the dark chocolate, and mix with a handheld blender or food processor. Shape the dough into rectangular bars.
Next, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl. Then, dip the bars into the chocolate. Put the dipped bars on the lined tray/sheet and place it in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.
Peanut Butter Honey Cereal Bars
The kids would probably love these peanut butter honey cereal bars by Chew Out Loud. Less chocolate, more peanut butter — what could go wrong?
- 4 cups of toasted oats cereal: $1.99 for 15 ounces, or 80 cents
- 1 cup dried berries of choice: $1.49 for 8 ounces, or 59 cents
- ½ cup honey roasted peanuts: $2.69 for 1 pound, or 54 cents
- ⅔ cup honey: $3.49 for 12 ounces, or $2.30
- ⅔ cup creamy peanut butter: $2.18 for 18 ounces, or 73 cents
Total cost: $4.96
Servings: 12 bars
Price per bar: 41 cents
Grease an 8-by-8-inch pan.
Combine the cereal, dried berries and peanuts in a large bowl.
Then, blend together the honey and peanut butter for about 1 minute in a saucepan over medium heat. As soon as it gets creamy, remove it from the heat, and let it cool for 3 to 5 minutes.
Next, combine the peanut butter honey mixture with the cereal bowl ingredients, tossing and coating everything together. Once it’s well-blended, pour it into the greased pan.
Press the mixture down firmly to the sides and corners, ensuring it sticks together.
Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. Once it’s ready, cut into 12 bars.
Note: If your bars don’t stick, consider adding more honey or peanut butter. It’s also essential to not overcook the honey-and-peanut butter mixture. The ingredients won’t stick together if the mixture gets too thin.
No-Bake Mint Chocolate Protein Bars
Note: This recipe calls for a food processor.
Stay powered up with these no-bake mint chocolate protein bars from The Healthy Maven. The recipe yields enough to have a bar every day for almost two weeks, and it only has seven ingredients.
- 1 cup of dates: $6.49 for 12 ounces, or $2.80
- 1 cup of nuts: $3.99 for 8 ounces, or $2.32
- ¾ cup of protein powder: $19.43 for 2.03 pounds, or $2.30
- ¼ cup cocoa powder: $2.49 for 9 ounces, or 20 cents
- ¼ teaspoon of peppermint extract: $2.99 for 1 ounce, or 12 cents
- 3 tablespoons of almond milk: $2.69 for ½ gallon, or 6 cents
- ½ teaspoon of kosher salt: $2.44 for 3 pounds, or 1 cent
Total cost: $7.81
Servings: 12 bars
Price per bar: 65 cents
I made this recipe at home. Trust me — if you don’t succeed at first, try again. The first round wasn’t so great, but I learned what to change for the second go. I tweaked some instructions from the original recipe.
First, put the dates in the food processor and process them into a mushy dateball. Then, add in the nuts until both are ground up.
Next, add in your protein powder, cocoa powder, salt, peppermint extract and almond milk and process them into one big, sticky ball. If they’re not rolling together, just add more almond milk 1 teaspoon at a time.
Line a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with plastic wrap, and then add the mixture to it. (Plastic wrap and I don’t get along so well, so I skipped that part.) With or without plastic wrap, spread out the ball in the dish until the top is flat.
Put the mixture in the freezer for a minimum of 15 minutes. Take it out of the freezer, and pull the plastic wrap out of the dish.
Cut into 12 bars (I used a pizza cutter) and enjoy. I cut mine into smaller squares so they were more bite size. They keep best in the refrigerator but can also be frozen.
Use any combination of nuts based on your tastes and budget. Same goes for milk and protein powder. Dates are expensive, so substituting figs, prunes or dried fruit can make this concoction even more affordable.
Substitute Ingredients in Your DIY Protein Bars
Don’t dismiss a recipe because it doesn’t meet your dietary needs.
There’s generally a way to make it work to fit your taste. For instance, you can use gluten-free flour or milk substitutes to make most recipes vegan.
If you’re allergic to peanuts, you can use a peanut-free butter like sunbutter. Swap raisins for craisins, or use agave nectar instead of honey. Sprinkle in some white chocolate chips instead, or add pumpkin or chia seeds if you think it’ll work.
Feel free to bump up other ingredients if you add too many items, because that’s the fun of experimenting. Keep in mind cooking fails are part of the process and make you a better chef!
Using what you have already or what you prefer can make all the difference in savings, taste and initiative. You can make multiple recipes with one batch of ingredients. That initial investment will save you yield after yield of yummy.
Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. The fastest way to her heart is through her stomach.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Powered by WPeMatico