With four growing kids (and their hungry friends) raiding my cupboards and fridge several times a day, it is tough keeping healthy, but tasty, snacks on hand for them.

Apples are a staple in our fridge, and granola bars are a staple in our snack cupboard, but healthy snacks can get expensive. I stock up on granola bars when they're on sale or when I have a great coupon, but we still always seem to run out. And I'm not really convinced the granola bars that go on sale have any real nutritional value.

But now I've found the perfect–and delicious–solution to the disappearing granola bars. I've started making my own granola bars. Thanks to Pinterest, Facebook, and a friend from high school, I've gathered a bunch of recipes for easy homemade granola bars.

Here's my kids' favorite recipe (and mine too!) given to me by a friend:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 bag marshmallows (I used the big ones, because that's what I had. Mini would work too.)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 5 ½ cups Rice Krispies (generic works too and it's so much cheaper!)
  • 3 ½ cups oatmeal (uncooked)
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Melt butter, marshmallows, honey and peanut butter over low heat. Combine cereal, oatmeal and wheat germ in a bowl. Pour melted mixture over dry ingredients. Mix in mini chocolate chips. Press into a greased jelly roll pan. Cool and enjoy.

These granola bars seriously took less than 30 minutes to make. I cut them to look like granola bars (long and skinny). I got 33 bars from one batch, but I think I could have gotten more–they're pretty filling.

There are many, many reasons I have fallen in love with these easy to make, yummy, homemade granola bars.

1. My kids and their friends gobbled them up, but there's still more than half of a pan left.
2. The recipe doesn't call for expensive or unusual ingredients, which means I will make these again and again, and hopefully stop buying expensive granola bars (which are also full of preservatives).
3. The possibilities are endless with this recipe: instead of chocolate chips, I think I'll try dried cranberries next time, or maybe peanuts, or even butterscotch chips.
4. Wheat germ is like a "magic" ingredient. I did some research on the health benefits of wheat germ: it's a fat-fighter; it includes a bunch of minerals, including iron and zinc (things we women never get enough of); it's one of the best sources of folic acid (also important for women, especially expectant moms). I know–there are still plenty of not-so-healthy ingredients in these granola bars, but I'm trying to focus on the good!

And four hungry kids must be right: these homemade granola bars are just as good, or even better, than the store-bought ones.

Now, if I could just get an apple tree that would produce apples during a North Dakota winter, I'd really be on to something.

This has been a guest post by Jody from Bismarck, ND
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