Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bread Stories and Grocery Breakdown: November

November turned out to be a really good month for our budget (at least in groceries). We only spent $110! And we went shopping a lot, like twice a week. We opted not to do a breakdown that month because of time constraints, and also for another reason which will be explained later.. but I can say that it has something to do with a new year's resolution...

In the meantime I can tell you the Epic of the Bread Maker.

For my birthday this year, the gift which I received and covet the most is a small bread maker. I had been making our own bread for a while, and it was tedious. I had to take up the whole day in the house, tending the rising dough, putting some elbow grease into the kneading, and carefully shaping the loaves before baking.

All this has changed.

I borrowed a bread maker from one of Hillary's co-workers, and it was delightful! I was able to start a loaf by just dumping in the ingredients and pushing start. I was then free for several hours to do as I pleased (I mostly spent this time staring in wide-eyed wonderment at the bread maker wobbling on the counter). But, there were some downsides. It came with no instructions (usually not a hindrance, but in this case, yes), it came with no recipes, and it was a very large maker, designed for 2.5 lb loaves. For comparison, the loaves you buy in the store are usually 1.5 lb. For these reasons, it sat on the shelf above the small pantry for a long time, conversing with the jugs of canola oil.

Then, the gift came. I received a smaller bread maker from Hillary, who took the time to look up several recipes specifically written by the manufacturer for this machine, and included them in a small booklet along with the maker. This bread maker also had an additional feature: a built in start timer. I was now able to make a batch of bread which I KNEW would come out right because the recipe was written for this machine, and I was also able to start the bread before I went to bed so that we could wake up to a delicious loaf of the fresh stuff, waiting to be sliced and toasted.

I knew this was going to save us tons of time and money. Time, insofar as the bread can be made to be ready at any time; it can even cook while we are at work for dinner that night! And money, because I had already calculated earlier that a loaf of bread costs us around a quarter of what a store-bought loaf might cost, which is around a Quarter. Thats right, homemade bread for nearly 25¢!

And the best part is, bread makers can be found for right around $5 at any thrift store. There are probably dozens that you've been overlooking for ages. Take one home, wash it out, and make you some bread. Its a four hour investment that gives returns deliciously and infinitely.