Bake your own energy bars
It's not often that a hack comes out of getting to know a Parent Hacks advertiser, but that's exactly what happened here. A small button ad from Matisse and Jack's, makers of TrailBlaze Homemade Energy Bar mix, came through recently, and it piqued my interest. Energy bars I could bake myself? I've been known to spend upwords of a dollar per bar for the packaged versions (Clif Bars, Kashi GoLean bars, and Luna bars come to mind), with varying degrees of success with my kids. Was there a better way?
Aaron of M&J's and I began emailing, and he sent me a couple boxes to try. Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Walnut. Hmmm. Miraculously, I had the add-in ingredients on hand (applesauce and yogurt), so I baked a batch minutes after ripping open the UPS carton. As my kitchen filled with the aroma of melting chocolate, I began to think smug thoughts about the homebaked-yet-healthy snack I'd serve my kids after school.
But did they taste as good as they smelled? Yes! The "homebaked" part made all the difference. Instead of a hard, sawdust-like bar, these were about halfway between a cookie and a very dense cake. They were lovely warm and spread with butter (admittedly, not the most health-conscious preparation). My kids were slightly less enthusiastic, only because they're finicky (have I mentioned that?) and they were expecting standard chocolate chip cookies, a la Tollhouse. But they still liked the bars. I'm going to bake up the Cranberry Walnut mix using the Energy Cookies recipe to see if that's more popular.
As for the net cost: about 55 cents per bar if you cut the recipe into the recommended nine bars...but little kids will probably want less, so the per-bar cost is even smaller.
So, I emailed Aaron and asked how Parenthackers could get their hands on this mix (right now it's only available in Northern California, US and British Columbia, Canada stores). He pointed me to the online order form, reminding me that shipping is free with an order of four or more boxes ($4.99 US per box). AND, if you enter the coupon code PARENTHACKSNOV, you'll get an additional 15% off your order. Nice!
The Parent Hacks dealie only lasts for a month, so if you're inclined to give Trailblaze a try, do it soon.