If You Have To, Which Protein Bar?

"Wake up, Homer! Those bars are just junk! They're made out of apple cores and Chinese newspapers!"
“Wake up, Homer! Those bars are just junk! They’re made out of apple cores and Chinese newspapers!”

Recently I have been experimenting with what I eat. As is my way, I have really gone to town on it and have been tracking my calories, protein, fat, carbs etc.. I’ve been enjoying the way that feels and what it’s taught me about food and my body but I want to say right at the start of this post that tracking and getting weird about food like this is absolutely not necessary.

To pay my bills and fund my impulse purchases (most recently, this), I do support work at a university. I only work term-time and this week is my first week back. This is the first year where I have been paying this much attention to what I eat, so before going back I wanted to get a plan together for how I was going to continue to meet my calorie, protein, fat etc. targets while not spending loads of money and with minimal faff.

Ideally I suppose I would be really good at doing “meal prep” on weekends and keep a mountain of Tupperwares in my fridge with my lunches for the week all planned out, but I have had years of intending to do that sort of thing and always failed – if I do manage to take a packed lunch, it’s usually just leftovers from the night before rather than a really well-planned super-meal.

These are the criteria that my food at work would ideally meet:

  • cheap
  • minimal added sugar
  • not bulky, so I can run or cycle to work without a big rucksack
  • won’t leak in my bag
  • won’t smell weird if I have to eat in a lecture
  • doesn’t need to be kept in a fridge, because the fridge available is so small

So this year (only this year?) I’m going to be the office freak and buy things in bulk to store in the office. I’ll have a lunch-like breakfast and a nice big evening meal and otherwise just snack throughout the day on weird little things I’ve secreted away in the cupboard – 5kg muesli here, bottles of hemp milk there, an industrial tub of peanut butter, slowly rotting fruit from the grocers on campus… It’s going to be magical.

The only thing missing from my plan was protein. I didn’t want to use a shake because I actually wanted to eat something. So I arrived at protein bars. SORRY, I ONLY EAT FOOD IN BAR FORM.

But which bar?! With so many to choose from, how can we possibly decide?! Have no fear, dear reader, my spreadsheet is here.

There are columns for whether it’s vegan, its price, the calorie and macronutrient contents, and then calculators giving the amount of protein per kilocalorie, cost per kilocalorie (multiplied by 100 to make it easier to display), and price per amount of protein per kilocalorie (probably a very clumsy of working out the cheapest, least calorific, highest protein option).

The sheet hasn’t got any detailed information about ingredients, so if you want to avoid certain things, I can’t help you – if it doesn’t fit neatly in a spreadsheet, it’s dead to me.

Have a look below and please use comments in the sheet to suggest more to be added. You can’t sort the data or comment when it’s embedded below but should be able to on the actual sheet.