Plastic free snacks - a recipe for muesli bars in a hurry

One of the items that comes wrapped in plastic by default and that we get through a lot of on a weekly basis is snacks. If I’m packing for a day out, I have more scope to bring chopped vegetables and dips, jam sandwiches, soft fruit etc. But for school, what’s needed is something full of energy that can sit in a hot classroom for several hours, probably be squashed accidentally and must not contain nuts.

I’ve come up with these flapjacks which went down a storm and can be made at the same time as buttering approximately a thousand sandwiches and pointlessly shouting at everyone to get their blimming shoes on. I can’t make any health claims for these given the amount of golden syrup and butter, but they do contain oats and some dried fruit. Plus, they absolutely won’t be left going mouldy in the bottom of a school bag for you to find on Friday afternoon. I’ve found that if you reduce the sugar content too much they won’t set, and you’ll end up with granola instead.

Prep time 5 minutes, cooking 15 minutes.


200g porridge or rolled oats (Lidl basic oats come in a paper not plastic pack)

100g of small nuts (I used a mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes)

100g golden syrup

25g butter

100g dried fruit (raisins was what I had, but finely chopped apricots or dates are also good)

½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

50g chocolate chips (optional but very very nice)


Put the oven on to 175C and let it warm up while you measure out the ingredients. Lay out the oats on a baking tray. If you use a reusable baking sheet, you’ll save some washing up. After 10 minutes, once they are starting to change colour, add the nut mix to the tray. You’ll need to keep an eye on them at this stage, another 5 minutes should do the trick. Coconut flakes in particular can burn quickly.

While they toast, warm up the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan until it melts together. Make sure it doesn’t boil over or you’ll have an enormous sticky mess to add to your morning woes.

Tip the toasted oats and seeds into a large bowl and pour over the butter mix. It will fizz a bit. Give it all a stir to cool down slightly then add everything else.

Line a square 25x25cm loose bottomed tin with the baking parchment you were using in the oven, and squash the mix into the tin. If you are in a real hurry, just squash one portion into a small Tupperware box and it will be set by break time. Pre-scoring where you plan to cut it will make them easier to portion up once they’ve set. This is enough to make 8 huge bars or 10 more sensible sized ones. Leave somewhere cool. After half an hour they should be firm enough to handle. Store somewhere airtight. You can wrap these in brown paper, or I use a small paper bag which can be recycled afterwards.

If you try these, do let me know in the comments below how it went. Feel free to share the recipe with your friends.

zero waste muesli bars in a hurry |

A note on ingredients: As well as being tasty, I make these to try to reduce the amount of plastic waste we produce, as the foil lined plastic muesli bar wrappers aren’t even recyclable. To source the ingredients without plastic, in Edinburgh I can buy the oats and dried fruit and nuts from the New Leaf co-op which lets you fill your own containers. Lidl do porridge oats in a paper package, all the other supermarkets seem to sell it in plastic. You can also buy fruit and nuts from Real Foods in bags that look like plastic but are actually compostable cellulose and they have bulk bins for oats (and very good muesli).


There’s more info on where to shop packaging free on this map.