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Oatmeal To-Go Bars - great for breakfast or lunch!

Project Organize Your Lunch: Oatmeal To-Go Bars

Having just survived a move with small children, a lot of my healthy eating habits seem to have flown out the window and I’m in somewhat of a lunch rut.  What better to pull me out than a delicious new recipe and a glimpse at how someone else tackles getting 3 squares a day, right? Here’s Jen with the goods…

Sometimes I need to remind myself that organizing isn’t just about storing things in pretty jars with labels, or decluttering the front hall closet. Organizing is so much more than that, and encompasses every facet of life. What’s the point of having clutter-free junk drawers if you don’t have the time to properly organize your meals and prepare your day?

I’ve had my mornings figured out for awhile now. I make my smoothie packs that are easy to add water to and blend for a quick and healthy brekky. Lunch has always been fairly simple as well – oatmeal. I transitioned from packaged instant oatmeal about a year ago and started making my own. Sometimes overnight oats, other times I just bring it dry and add hot water to it and let is sit (think Starbucks perfect oatmeal).

 

Oatmeal has been a great work lunch for me (and some wonderful oatmeal options are covered in great detail in this bookmark-worthy post). It’s easy to prepare, doesn’t cause unpleasant breath for the remainder of the day, and doesn’t smell offensive to anyone else in the lunch room (salmon leftover eaters – I’m talking bout you!).

 

But, oatmeal has it’s limitations. The version I’ve made for the last while requires hot water, a bowl and a spoon, so it’s not great for on the go. I also feel a little silly eating oatmeal in the lunch room sometimes. So then it occurred to me to try a baked oatmeal – but a super-food packed, protein-powered baked oatmeal in a bar that would be easy to eat, nutritionally loaded and substantial enough to keep me going throughout the day.

 

After testing out a few variations, I settled on a recipe that is not only delicious, it’s customizable and the flavors can switch around when I need a change. Best of all, it’s easy to make, and provides lunch for two weeks. Not too shabby. And when I do have kiddos to feed, these will certainly be making their lunch boxes as well. Try whipping up a batch with whatever is in your pantry and freeze for organized, balanced lunches.

homemade oatmeal bars

Super Powered Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients
  • 5 medium ripe bananas – mashed
  • 3 cups water or milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 2 tbsp nut butter
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener (honey, maple syrup, or agave)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates (or raisins)
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • small handful of each or some of the following: dark chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, pecans, walnuts, hemp seeds, shredded coconut
Directions
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer mixture into a parchment lined casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes. Let cool, cut into bars, wrap with plastic wrap and freeze.

 

 

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Jen puts her passion for organizing to work creating functional household labels for the home she shares with her husband and two mini-dachsunds. You can find her sharing her love of home decor and organizing, as well as designing labels, at The Social Home.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah July 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

This sounds yummy and a good breakfast option for my 4 year old on busy mornings too. What size baking dish do you use? It seems like that would be useful to know since the thickness of the oatmeal would effect the cooking time.

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Dawn July 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I’m just guessing here, but it looks to me like it might be a 9×13 dish

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Jen at the Social Home (@thepapersociety) July 31, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Hi Sarah! Should have mentioned that! It was a casserole dish I used, which I believe is 9 by 13? I also should make note that cooking times vary based on your oven and the ingredients you use (I’m sure with the addition or exclusion of some of the seeds/extras will change it a bit) so just check on it until a knife comes out clean. Theres nothing raw in there that could harm you, so whether you like it soft and more oatmeal like, or denser and more loaf like will be up to you!

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Jen at the Social Home (@thepapersociety) August 1, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hi Sarah! Sorry about that! I’ve always called a 9 by 13 pan a casserole dish, so that’s what I used! Thankfully nothing is raw nor harmful if undercooked, so feel free to bake to your desired consistency. It can be more oatmeal like or more dense and loaf like depending on cooking time and additional ingredients you choose to use!

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Brenda August 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm

It looks like a 9 x 13.

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Raquel September 3, 2013 at 11:05 am

Are the steel cut oats cooked beforehand?

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Jen at the Social Home (@thepapersociety) September 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Hi Raquel! Nope- they just cook while baking!

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Elaina September 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

When you freeze them, do you reheat in microwave or thaw at room temperature?

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Jen at the Social Home (@thepapersociety) October 1, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Hi Elaina, I’ve done both and both work well – so whatever you choose to do!

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jacque September 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm

do you happen to have the nutritional vaue on theses. thanks

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Jen at the Social Home (@thepapersociety) October 1, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Hi Jacque – I don’t have the calculations but I know there are websites where you can input ingredients to find out. Good luck!

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Jennyroo October 5, 2013 at 1:27 am

Any idea what a good substitution would be for the nut butter? Our kids’ school is entirely nut-free due to a few kids with allergies, and I would love to send these in their lunches!

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Cindy October 25, 2013 at 9:33 am

I calculated the ingredients in My Fitness Pal exactly as described (using unsweetened almond milk, canola oil and honey as variable ingredients) and came up with 348 calories per serving, based on a 12 serving recipe. That’s pretty high for a “snack” but the nutritional value packs a punch, too.

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Gabrielle February 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

How many calories would you say one bar is?

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Lee Ann March 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Just curious… Do you eat one of these for lunch along with other foods or just the oatmeal bar?

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Steph (MPMK Founder) March 14, 2014 at 8:43 pm

I don’t think this would be a well-balance lunch all on it’s own Lee Ann – I’d add a few healthy sides :).

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Jen at the Social Home March 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm

The oatmeal bar is the sandwich to my lunch, but yes, I love sides! Hummus with crackers, nuts, fruit, etc all make their way into my lunch bag! :)

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Kelsey March 23, 2014 at 6:43 am

These look delicious! I have been experimenting with raw bars, oatmeal muffins, and granola recipes with no/low/less sugar. I am excited to try these! Unfortunately, I am sensitive to bananas. Any substitutions you would suggest? I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Tanya April 30, 2014 at 7:05 am

Apple sauce could work instead of banana… My son doesn’t like banana either so I use apple purée/sauce in muffins.

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