Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saving money deliciously in four minutes

If there's one appliance sitting unused, gathering dust and guilt in your kitchen, chances are it's a bread machine.  If that is so, chances are it looked fantastic on the wedding registry.  It's like an American tradition to receive one and not use it.

Actually, bread machine owners seem to  either use them all the time or not at all.  Ever since we got ours for our wedding (thank you, college roommate!), I've faithfully used it.  Paige has made a loaf here and there, but mostly I have contributed bread to the household.  For your information and inspiration, I videotaped myself making a loaf of bread.  Having done it at least once a week for over sixteen years, I now know the recipe by heart, which speeds up the measuring and dumping a little bit.  It doesn't speed it up as much as it looks on the video; I sped up the video to double-time so that it would be a more Internet-appropriate two minutes long rather than an old world four minutes.

I have wondered for a while how much I have saved over the years by making bread at home.  I have bought sandwich bread almost never, maybe a loaf a year at most.  I therefore do not know how much it costs.  Also, I could have but didn't want to sit down and do the math about how much my home bread costs.  Then I read in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by the insufferable Barbara Kingsolver that a homemade loaf costs about 50 cents.  Let's say sandwich bread costs $2.50 at the grocery store.  With those simple variables and assuming some growth in bread baking as our family has grown, I posit that I've saved us about $2,000 in 16 years, all while eating superior bread.

If you do have one, dust it off and commit to making a loaf a week for four weeks.  Then at least you'll know and can decide whether to keep it or give it to someone else so they can keep it in their basement.


Anne H. said...

I've always thought that about bread machines. Glad you're a user. Indeed, your bread is good!

(You might want to correct the typo: Saving money delicisiously...)

Karen Gorss said...


I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. ;-)

Lauren Jackson said...

You're being modest. Bread only costs $2.50 if you wait for a really good sale. Try $4.00. Your graph will get even better!

JFo said...

K: I always want to like Barbara Kingsolver's books, but when I actually read them, her prose is so purple I can't stand it. I can see her finishing a sentence and then stepping back to admire it, polish it with a white cloth and then move on. An example: I'm glad I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I'd heard a lot about it, and it's interesting to learn what it takes to really eat locally even for just a year. But then I come upon this description of her daughter wit clementines:

"No matter where I was in the house, that vividly resinous orangey scent woke up my nose whenever anyone peeled one in the kitchen. Lily hugged each one to her chest before undressing it as gently as a doll. Watching her do that as she sat cross-legged on the floor one morning in pink pajamas, with bliss lighting her cheeks, I thought: Lucky is the world, to receive this grateful child. Value is not made of money, but a tender balance of expectation and longing."

Too precious by half for the likes of me. And it gets in the way. Her sanctimony clouds the narrative and her worthy points.

JFo said...

Lauren, if bread costs $4 a loaf, I've saved us $3500, not $2000. Don't get me started on cutting my own hair and the boys' hair!