In many parts of the country school’s already back in session, which means it’s time to stock up on lunch box treats and after-school snacks. If granola bars are one of your regulars, check out our recipe. In fact, it’s so simple that once the pan is prepared most school-age children could make them with little or no supervision. But how do the bars taste? All the kids I’ve shared them with give big thumbs up!

Granola Bars with Almonds, Chocolate, and Dried Cranberries
Makes 16 bars (or 24 if you’re trying to be extra good!)

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup of semi- or bitter-sweet chips or chunks (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven until 325 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. For bars’ easy removal, line pan bottom and up the two sides with a 9- by 18-inch strip of heavy-duty foil. Grease foil with vegetable cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Turn into prepared pan and pat down until firmly packed. Bake until golden brown about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to freezer to cool. When firm, use foil handles to remove bars from pan. Remove foil and use a long, sharp knife to cut bar into 24 1- by 4-inch bars. Can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Gluten free variation: Although they’re not quite as firm as the bars with wheat germ, they’re every bit as good. To make them, follow recipe for Granola Bars with Almonds, Chocolate, and Dried Cranberries substituting 1/2 cup rolled oats that have been finely ground in a food processor for the wheat germ.