Breakfast Bar Recipes for the Frugal Food Budget

by Reader Contributors

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Do you love the convenience of pre-packaged breakfast bars, but hate the cost? Try these breakfast bar recipes for the frugal food budget.

Breakfast bars and cookies have become popular grab-and-go breakfast staples as we can see by how much that section of the cereal aisle has grown in recent years.

The reason is likely because they are so convenient, especially for busy families, and now they come in so many different varieties and flavors.

But they are also so expensive. Sure, you can sometimes get them on BOGO or with coupons, but many of them aren’t so good for us anyway.

We asked our frugal readers to share their favorite frugal breakfast bar and cookie recipes so we can all bake that same convenience for a fraction of the cost of the store-bought stuff and eat just a bit healthier, too.

Breakfast Bar Cookie Recipe

This is an easy recipe that can be made ahead of time and my kids really enjoy.

Makes 24
131 calories, 7g fat/cookie
(This may seem like a lot of fat, but for normally active children, it usually is not a problem. Just balance with lower fat foods, fruits and veggies the rest of the day.)

  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 2/3 c butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg or equivalent egg substitute
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 1/2 c quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1 c colby or cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 c raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Stir in the butter/margarine, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Peel and core the apple; chop it into small pieces or shred it. Add apple pieces, oatmeal, cheese and raisins. Stir. Place large spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Another idea is to make a batch of pancakes and either refrigerate or freeze them (depending on how fast you will use them up). Pop them in the microwave to reheat and let the kids enjoy. You can also add a sausage link and roll the pancake around it. Great for that on the go breakfast.

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Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Bars

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TB milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350. Beat sugars and margarine together. Add applesauce, egg, milk and vanilla. Add combined flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well. Stir in oats and raisins. Spread dough into an ungreased 13 x 19 inch baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Makes about 32 bars. These even hold together well enough for lunch boxes.
Anne W.

Granola Breakfast Bars

  • 3 1/2 cups oats (quick or regular), toasted
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey, corn syrup or molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Toast oats by spreading on a cookie sheet or large baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. This gives the oats a nutty flavor and helps the mixture stick together better. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Press into well-greased 15×10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool and cut into bars when cool.

Variations: Substitute chocolate chips for raisins. Add 1/2 cup coconut. Substitute 1/2 cup sunflower seeds for the nuts.
Rebecca G.

Orange Julius

Easy and quick to make. Serve with toast or oatmeal cookies (reduce the sugar in the cookies) for a complete breakfast.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 12 ice cubes
  • 6 oz. frozen orange Juice concentrate

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and serve immediately.

Mary’s Apple Cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cup flour (I use 100% whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 to 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. oil (or substitute 1/2 c. applesauce)
  • 5 cup chopped apples (not too fine)

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add oil, eggs and apples, mixing thoroughly. Bake in greased muffin tins, 350 degrees for approx.. 30 minutes.

No-Bake Granola Bars

Try this recipe for No-Bake Granola Bars from a recent issue of Southern Living magazine. Recipe submitted by Carol C. in San Antonio, TX.

  • 2 1/2 c crisp rice cereal
  • 2 c uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c light corn syrup
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c milk chocolate morsels

Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl; set aside. Bring brown sugar and syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until blended.

Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in chocolate morsels. Press mixture firmly into a 13×9-inch pan; cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
Jim P.

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Family Favorite Breakfast Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup orange flavored instant breakfast drink
  • 32 large marshmallows or 3 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4 cups Cheerios cereal
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk

Butter square pan 9X9X2. In large saucepan, melt butter and marshmallows over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in peanut butter until melted. Stir in milk and breakfast drink. Fold in raisins and cereal, stirring until evenly coated. With buttered hands, pat evenly in pan. Cool thoroughly. Cut into bars about 1-1/2 X 1.

Homemade Crunchy Granola Bars

These are very good but very time consuming as you must first make your own granola. These come from one of my food drying books by Deanna Long.

  • 4 cups uncooked rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup bran flakes
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped dried fruit
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix oats, wheat germ, bran flakes, coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt. In a small saucepan, heat oil, honey, apple juice and brown sugar until warm, stirring until brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour oil mixture over oat mixture, stirring well. Pour mixture into a shallow 9″ X 13″ or larger baking pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of baking, stir in the dried fruit and nuts. Cool and store in airtight containers at room temperature. Use within 4 weeks. Makes about 9 cups.

Peanut Butter & Granola Bars

  • 1-1/2 cups Crunchy Granola (see above recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons bran flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons water
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 egg, well-beaten

Preheat oven to 250. Generously grease and flour an 8″ X 8″ X 2″ baking pan; set aside. In medium bowl, mix crunchy granola, dry milk, bran flakes, cinnamon, salt and raisins. In a large bowl, combine oil, honey, vanilla, water and peanut butter. Stir to mix well. Gradually stir granola mixture into peanut butter mixture. Add egg and mix well. Press mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake 25 minutes. Cool 10 to 15 minutes in pan before cutting into 2″ X 1″ bars. For less chewy bars, place them in a food dryer at 130 degrees for 2 to 3 hours. Makes 32 bars.

I rarely get to make the granola bars. I have 3 boys and they put the granola into plastic bags and eat it as a snack. You certainly do not have to worry about keeping it around for 4 weeks. I’m lucky to have it for a couple of days. I also dry all my own fruit in the summer so this is not expensive. I also do not have to worry about the sulfites they put into commercially dried fruits.

Banana Custard Oat Bars

For oat bars:

  • 2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats (old fashioned or quick cooking)

For filling:

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apple or pear (I make these with my own dehydrator as store bought ones are expensive!)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 large bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (a great use for over-ripe bananas)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9″x9″x2″ baking pan. In a food processor, whirl the sugar, butter, and oil until smooth. Add the flour, cinnamon, and salt, then process, using on/off pulses, until the texture resembles coarse meal. Add the oats and process until just combined. Set aside one cup of the mixture for the topping and press the remainder into the prepared pan. (I’ve tried making these with my mixture, but the food processor works best.)

Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small bowl, soak the apple (pear) in the water for 15 minutes, then drain. Place the bananas, egg, egg whites, honey, and ginger in the processor and blend until smooth. Add the apples and pulse just until combined.

Pour the banana mixture onto the hot crust; sprinkle the remaining cup of oat mixture evenly over the top. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes more or until set in the center. Let stand in the pan on a rack until warm, then cut into 16 squares. Will keep, tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days. (I have frozen the bars individually and packed the frozen ones to thaw in my daughter’s lunch bag and this worked well.)
Mary Beth

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Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

  • 3/4 cup non-sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup no-sugar-added apricot jam (I’ve used many other flavors and they work well.)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (I’ve used quick cook and they worked fine.)
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. On a sheet of wax paper, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, stir together the jam, oil, honey, and egg whites until combined. Stir in the flour mixture, oats, wheat germ, and walnuts (if desired). Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons on the baking sheet, spacing the mounds 1 inch apart. Bake for 17 minutes or until the cookies are set and browned. Let cool for 1 to 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then, transfer to wire racks to cool completely. The cookies can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes about 24 2-inch cookies.
Mary Beth

Chewy Granola Bars

  • 1/2 C Margarine, softened
  • 1 C Light brown sugar
  • 1/4 C Granulated sugar
  • 2 T Honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 t Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t Baking powder
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1 1/2 C Oats
  • 1 1/4 C Crisp rice cereal
  • 1 C Raisins or semi-sweet chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl cream margarine and sugars. Add honey, vanilla, and egg, and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Stir in oats and cereal. Add raisins or chocolate chips. Press into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.
Mrs. T. W.

Reviewed November 2022

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