Fresh-baked bread is one of my favorite pleasures. I love the way it smells, the way it tastes and the way it looks. A fresh-baked loaf of bread always makes me want to lay my head down on it like a pillow and just breathe in the wonderful scent. I love to eat an extra thick slice with a thin layer of ghee* spread on it. Heaven.
Did I used to bake my own bread? Nope. Did I buy bread from the local bakery on our street? You bet. Every week, out went $5 from my wallet for a small loaf of bread.
Then I turned Super Frug.
Suddenly, that $20/month bread habit seemed awfully spendy. The Silver Fox and I stopped buying from the cute local bakery and started buying bread from the supermarket. That sucked. After eating fresh, tasty loaves from our local bakery, we were spoiled. Everything from the store just tasted bad.
So, we took our friend Jeff‘s advice (a bread machine devotee for years) and bought a bread machine. For $15. From Value Village.
It’s easy. Just add flour, water, salt, oil and yeast and hit START. A few hours later, you have a tasty loaf that’s better than anything you get in the store.
Instead of spending $5 a loaf, we now spend 62 cents per loaf. You heard it right. 62 cents a loaf!
Some tips to follow:
1) Only buy a bread machine if you eat bread on a regular basis.
2) Buy used. People donate bread machines to the Goodwill, Value Village and other secondhand stores all the time. You can get a practically brand-new machine for $10-$15 instead of $75-$200.
3) Our friend Jeff uses a Panasonic so we bought one too. It works great. Do some research on brands online before you go shopping.
4) Follow the bread machine’s directions for a loaf of basic white bread. If the instruction manual is missing, do an online search. They’re pretty easy to find. Print it out and keep it in a binder.
5) Once you know how to make a basic white bread, and you know how your machine works, start experimenting with other flavors and types of bread. Check out the Bread Machine Digest for ideas.
6) If you eat a loaf a week like we do, be Super Frug and buy your flour in bulk. We buy a 50-pound bag every 4-5 months from the Cash & Carry. We keep some flour in a big Tupperware in our kitchen and the rest we keep in a few food-grade 5-gallon white buckets (which you can get for free from bakeries and from the bakery section of your local supermarket).
7) Home-baked bread has no preservatives. Eat it within 4-5 days.
* Ghee is clarified butter. According to Ayurvedic medicine, ghee in moderate amounts is good for your health. It tastes great too. We make our own. Here’s a recipe.
NOTE: We don’t let the ghee cool. We just pour it in a glass PYREX container with a lid. Also, unlike the recipe, we use a fine mesh strainer instead of cheesecloth.
October 23, 2013 UPDATE: This year as an experiment, I cut gluten out of my diet. Lo and behold, I feel a lot better! I have more energy, less bloating, a lot less GI distress. I never thought I’d say this but now that I feel good, I actually don’t mind not eating bread (and a bunch of other things). Time to sell or donate the bread machine!