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The EASIEST Peanut Butter Granola Recipe - And How to Make it Cheap

by Rebekah Sian Crawley 2 years ago in recipe
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This homemade peanut butter granola recipe, and these few hacks to make your own on a budget, will change your life forever.

This peanut butter granola I made this morning was so tasty, and so cost effective, that I felt I had to share it with the world. But first let me go through how this little project came about.

For a few weeks now I've been trying to eat better. I'm pretty much convinced I have the strongest sugar cravings a human can possibly have. So my go-to breakfast when I'm craving something sugary and delicious is granola and Alpro yoghurt. But I realised that a lot of the packaged granola from the supermarkets actually weren't very good for you at all, despite leading consumers to believe they were. And as tempting as it was to buy the bag of granola filled with chocolate and literally covered in beautiful, dusty sugar, that wasn't in line with my eating better goal.

So after searching the shelves, I decided the healthiest option was two packets of healthy looking Mornflake granola, one plain and one tropical. The packet warned there would be some raisins which I didn't mind, but oh my god, I've never had so many raisins in my mouth at one time. Sorry Mornflake - they are actually a good brand for some things, their porridge is amazing, but their granola was awful. Unless you like eating honey soaked raisins, which I definitely do not.

At first I thought maybe this was just another one of those "health foods" that the supermarkets use to trick people. By essentially making them unhealthy, then putting a ridiculous price on them, which we pay because we feel like we're investing in our health, but is actually terrible for us. And now we're skint too to top it off - fuck you capitalism. And that maybe granola, real healthy granola that's good for your body, didn’t taste good at all. Until I started scouring the internet for homemade granola recipes, to see if there was something better I could make from scratch without too much fuss, and that was when I discovered the magic of homemade peanut butter granola.

You see, the whole idea of granola is that no one wants to sit and eat a handful of dry nuts, oats and seeds. Granola is about getting the good stuff into our bodies without feeling like someone's pet hamster. I realised that 1) I liked granola, but didn't like honey as a sweetener, and 2) Honey isn't all you can use to add some good flavour and crunch.

I'm not claiming to be a health expert, or a chef, I am neither. And this recipe certainly isn't perfect, but I think I've found a good balance between taste and nutrients that would keep most people satisfied, happy healthy. Plus, I found some ways to make this really budget friendly along the way.

The Recipe

For the purpose of this article I'm going to go through what I used, but you can honestly mix and match this so much to find a combination that suits you. One thing I learned it that granola recipes are so versatile that there's really no need to buy pre-made stuff that isn't exactly what you want in your mouth, when it's this easy to create something that is exactly what you want in your mouth. For my mix I used:

  • 2 "cups" of rolled oats (I used the word cups lightly because I genuinely just used a shorts glass from my cupboard and threw two full glasses in, and then maybe a little bit more. This does not have to be accurate at all, just make a mix that looks right to you)
  • A bag of mixed nuts - mine had hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts
  • Some mixed toasted seeds I had left over from a recipe last week
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

You can mix and match literally whatever you want, it's so much easier than I thought it would be. You just want a good ratio of dry and wet ingredients so it all clumps together and goes nice and crispy. I really enjoyed mine, but it could have been crispier so maybe if I made it again I'd add more wet ingredients, or leave it in the oven for longer. But this time I wanted to keep the sugar content down as much as possible. Basically what you want is a mix of:

  • Oats - The only thing that stays constant in all recipes, oats are your base and the main component in granola.
  • Nuts/seeds - To give nutrients, texture and flavour.
  • Wet ingredients - To give sweetness, taste and bind everything together. More wet ingredients will mean more clusters and more crunch (within reason obviously), but these are also going to be the ingredients with the most sugar and fat so bare that in mind if you're trying to be healthy.
  • Oil - You can use any oil you choose but from what I can see you will need to mix a little bit of oil into your wet ingredients to give them the right consistency.
  • Flavouring - You can use flavouring, for example vanilla extract, to give your granola a little extra flavour kick and balance out the sweetness.
  • Extras - You can also add in extras at the end like dried fruit or chocolate chips. But you don't have to, I left this out because I hate dried fruit.

Have a play around and find a mix that works for you. I was surprised at how versatile granola actually is. Kind of like soup, you can just throw stuff in it you have lying around, or stuff that needs to be used up.

The Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.
  2. First mix all of your dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Judge by eye whether the oats to nuts/seeds etc. ratio is right for you and adjust as needed.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the wet ingredients (in my case peanut butter and maple syrup) gently on low, with your oil of choice, and any flavouring like vanilla extract if you're using it.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients until they're all combined and have a smooth consistency. Be careful not to heat them for too long, you just want to make them runny and smooth.
  5. Pour the combined wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix it all together. At this point you'll be able to see if the ratio of wet to dry ingredients is right. It should look well combined, with all of the dry ingredients covered, and some clumps should be forming. You can add more or less wet ingredients depending on your taste, as long as all the dry ingredients have a covering.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and lay the mixture out across the tray evenly.
  7. Bake in the oven for around 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through to make sure it all bakes evenly. Check on it towards the end, it should look slightly golden and be crisping, it will crisp up more as it cools.
  8. When cooked you can add any extras you might be using like dried fruit or chocolate chips.
  9. Store in an airtight container when cooled - I don't have one, so I just used a sealed freezer bag.
  10. Serve over yoghurt, milk, or any plant based alternative. I used Alpro plain yoghurt and it tastes exactly the same as natural yoghurt, but is better for you and the planet. You can also top it with whatever you like, this one would probably be nice with some sliced banana!

This process was so easy, and there's lots of room to alter the recipe to your taste even during cooking. As I said, I would maybe use a little more wet ingredients next time if I was looking for bigger clumps and more crispiness.

Tips to Keep it Cheap

One thing I would have thought about making your own granola, is that you'd have to go out and get all kinds of crazy ingredients that will probably sit at the back of a cupboard, that you'll never use again, or that you'll tell yourself you'll use when you definitely wont. Or that it would be so much more expensive to make my own anyway because hello, have you seen the price of nuts in Holland and Barrett?! I have, and it's outrageous.

But it definitely doesn't have to be this way, here's a couple of tips I found to keep the cost down. And make something that sounds fancy like homemade granola, actually really budget friendly and cost effective.

  • Budget friendly nuts - The most expensive part of this thing for me was going to be the nuts. Nuts from some supermarkets and small traders are ridiculously expensive. I realised they didn't have to be when I just happened to notice a pack of "mixed nuts" on the bottom shelf. I checked the back and it so happened that the pack had almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts inside, which just happen to be my favourite nuts. They were on the bottom shelf, not in very attractive packaging, and if I hadn't read the back I would have thought they were bad quality nuts or nuts people generally weren't too keen on. What I'm saying is check the bottom shelves. This rule can be applied to most things. Supermarkets will always try and draw you in to expensive products that they make the most profit from so you have to outsmart them. The whole pack cost me £1.00. If I had gone for the middle shelf and bought the same nuts separately it would have cost £3-£4. So look around and don't be deceived by fancy packaging or supermarket tactics to get you to spend more when you don't have to, a nut is just a nut.
  • Buy oats in bulk - Oats are a really cheap, simple way to get some good nutrients, and you can use them in all kinds of recipes. I even use some wrapped in a bandana or muslin cloth in my bath because they're great for sore, dry, sensitive skin. I got a 2kg bag of Mornflake oats for around £2.00, which is insanely cheap. I eat them for breakfast sometimes with mashed banana, my daughter loves them, I blend them into smoothies, and you can make granola with them. At some point I want to try and make bars out of them - if it goes well I'll write about that too. You don't have to buy expensive oats for them to be good quality. I used to buy the Quaker instant packets of maple syrup oats, which was so unnecessary. It's so easy to cook your own, and sweeten them up yourself and it is so much cheaper. Buy the biggest pack you can to get the best deal.
  • Keep an eye out for cheap health foods in budget supermarkets - Some budget supermarkets are catching onto the fact that consumers love "buzzwords". I got my packet of chia seeds from Aldi, they were so cheap. I think they were around £1.00. Aldi have a whole range of packets of these "superfoods" like Chia seeds, that you can literally just throw into anything to give it a little health boost. There's really no need to go to some upmarket health foods store that's going to rip you off for no good reason. A nut is just a nut, a seed is just a seed. They aren't going to be any better if you buy them from a whole foods store, than if you buy them from a budget supermarket like Aldi. I've kept this packet on hand in my cupboard and just throw a few tablespoons into my recipes sometimes or sprinkle them over my food.
  • Use what you have in your cupboard. If Jordan Page from Funcheaporfree.com has taught me one thing it's USE WHAT YOU HAVE IN. It sounds so simple but shelf cooking is a god damn godsend. Recipes don't have to be so strict, as you've seen with this granola. Have a play around and trust yourself a little more. Learning to be flexible when you cook will mean less food waste, and more money for other things, which is always good!
  • Thank you so much for reading this. I hope you like this recipe. I'd love to see what you thought if you give it a go, or what you combos you use if you come up with your own mix, tag me on Instagram so I can see your attempts! Here's the link to my profile.


    About the author

    Rebekah Sian Crawley

    Writer | Mum of Two | Mental Health Advocate

    Libra 🌛

    Instagram: @_theartofanxiety

    Personal: @rebekahcrawley

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