My boys recently had their annual physical at the pediatrician’s office, and it seems my younger son grew five inches in less than a year. Though I joke that my boys have hollow legs, the impressive growth rate better explains their never-ending appetites.
Now that school is in session again, I’m back to packing daily lunches–which are substantial–plus a morning snack AND an after-school/before-sports-practice snack to get them through until dinner…by which time they are fully ravenous again. And in case you’re wondering, about an hour after that, they’re looking for ice cream or requesting smoothies, pouring big bowls of cereal, munching on apples, etc. As much as I cook, it’s all I can do to keep up!
Though I didn’t invent the original recipe for Chex mix, I’ve always adored it and have made a couple of minor additions over the years. As a mom, I like that it offers a mix of grains and protein and satisfies better than a bag of chips. Plus the recipe makes a lot, so it actually lasts in our house longer than a day or two! The boys love the built-in variety, it’s great to have when friends come over, and adults are always pretty happy to dig into a bowl of this classic snack mix, too.
So, while I can’t claim the recipe as my own, I offer the following version with a few tweaks, partly as a reminder not to overlook an old standby. If you haven’t had it in a while, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by just how good it is. If you’ve purchased the pre-made bags of Chex mix, I guarantee you’ll be delighted by the added flavor in the homemade version. You’ll get a lot more for your money, too.
But back to packing those lunches… When I was in school, my packed lunches consisted of a thermos of milk, a plain cheese sandwich, a piece of fruit, and some sort of snack. That was it. (The snack was usually chips or cookies, but on occasion, I got Tandy Kakes–you know, those uber-healthy desserts made by Tastykake–which seriously made my day.) What was in your lunchbox?
Yield: 24 servings (3+ quarts)
- 9 cups combination of Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, Cheerios and/or Crispix*
- 2 cups bite-size pretzels
- 1 1/2 cups salted cocktail peanuts (or mixed nuts)
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons seasoned salt (may substitute kosher salt)
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Tabasco sauce, optional -- I use about 6 shakes (1/4 teaspoon), which doesn't make the mix too spicy
- Optional add-ins: bite-size plain, garlic, or pumpernickel bagel chips (or broken into 1-inch pieces if regular-size); sesame sticks; Goldfish crackers (about 1 cup total)
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- In a very large bowl, mix together the cereals, pretzels, and nuts. (Stir in an extra cup or so of optional add-ins now, if using.)
- In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, mix together the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and optional Tabasco sauce.
- Drizzle the butter mixture evenly over the cereal mixture, stirring as you pour. Continue to gently stir until the dry ingredients are evenly coated by the wet mixture. (For less breakage when stirring, a curved spatula or "spoonula" works well.)
- Transfer the mixture to a large roasting pan or two rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Cool thoroughly, and then store in airtight container.
- *I often use 4 cups each Rice and Corn Chex and 1 cup Cheerios. If a gluten-free version is needed, omit the Wheat Chex and choose gluten-free pretzels (Utz has a great option) and other optional add-ins.