I once heard a radio DJ singing the praises of beef jerky, but he joked that it had to be one of the most expensive snacks on the planet. It’s true—a single pound of beef jerky (if you could buy it in such quantity) would cost about $25. I guess this explains why it’s often sold in single, vacuum-wrapped sticks and small, zippered topped bags.
Of course, beef jerky isn’t the only food that fetches a high price, when you consider the cost per pound. A 12-ounce package of “naturally flavored” granola, for example, sells for $4 at the grocery store where I shop. This means that a pound of the same granola would cost $5.33.
Not only is store-bought granola expensive, but it is often high in sugar and filled with ingredients you might rather avoid, including corn syrup and preservatives (which is the case for the granola I mentioned in the previous paragraph). On the other hand, homemade granola is relatively inexpensive. Plus, you get to decide exactly what you put in it.
With less than 5 minutes of hands-on work, and 30 minutes of baking time, you can make your own granola at home. A good, basic granola recipe, such as the one below, lends itself to dozens of different flavor combinations. If you have a wheat allergy, for example, you could substitute almond meal for the wheat germ. If you can’t include nuts or seeds, just add more fruit. Don’t like raisins? Then use dried cherries or chopped prunes.
Basic Granola Recipe
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup wheat germ
1 tbsp. brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup liquid sweetener (such as honey, pure maple syrup or agave nectar)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. water
1 cup add-ins (dried fruits, orange zest, chopped nuts, seeds. carob chips, etc.)
Mix the oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Combine the liquid sweetener, olive oil and water in a separate bowl; pour over dry ingredients, turning to coat. Spread the mixture on a large, rimmed pan in a single layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, turning frequently. Remove from oven when the mixture has turned a light golden brown—do not overbake. Cool slightly and stir in 1 cup of add-ins. Let cool completely before storing.