Cheap Eats – 11/19/2017

Bread bread bread!

I know that in this age where low carb diets are the be-all and end-all bread has become a bad word.  Even in the FIRE community, bloggers who focus on health as well as finance seem to all preach the same tune- bread is bad.  Not just bread, of course.  All white flour products, sugars, refined foods, and in some cases, all carbs altogether.  I’ll also be honest- I am in a constant quest to lose weight.  However, you can take my bread when you pull it out of my cold, dead hands.

I do try to limit my processed carbs, to be honest.  Any pastas I make have cauliflower or other veggies added as a stuffer so that each portion has, at most, half the normal recommended portion. The vast majority of our grocery bill comes from fresh produce and meats, which I cook myself.  Once I even tried for 2 months to stick to a keto diet.  It worked, do a degree.  I lost about 15 pounds in those two months.  I gained it right back again after though, and I was miserable the entire time I was on it.  I don’t like meat enough to have a meat-centric diet, and I don’t want to live my life not liking anything I eat.  Then of course there is the undeniable fact that meat is vastly more environmentally-unfriendly to produce than grains.

So, bread.  Every two to three weeks I make a couple loaves of bread.  It takes most of a week to get through each loaf, and then there’s often a bread-free week in between sessions.  Bread in stores costs anywhere from $1 (for the cheapest, on sale bread) to $6 (for specialty loaves from our local bakery).  Most of it, though, is pretty crappy, once you get used to the good stuff.  My mother used to call Wonderbread-type products “Wet-kleenex-bread” when I was growing up and rarely bought it, instead making us suffer through sandwiches made with country harvest 7 grain bread (bought on sale, of course).  By the time I was out on my own, I was pretty much won over to her way of thinking.  I went one step further, though, as soon as I realized how easy it was to bake my own bread.

I like knowing exactly what goes into it.  In the case of of my standard loaves, that consists of flour, water, and salt.  That’s it.  I buy flour in large sacks, and my best estimate has each loaf costing about 20 cents or so.  I use a mix of 66% to 33% white to whole wheat flour, add water, a little salt, and a cup or so of my homemade sourdough starter (also made from nothing but flour and water), and let the magic happen.  Add some kneading, a couple rises, and a turn in a piping hot oven, and I have a couple beautiful loaves.

20171119_152847

Why bring this up?  My mom gave me a big wedge of spiced gouda that I want to use up.  Suppers are going to be beef rendang ($12 for beef, and about $8 for the other ingredients from this recipe) with rice ($1) and veggies ($5 for salad and then broccoli), but lunches are going to be sandwiches with coldcuts ($6) and cheese ($3).  Breakfasts will be steel-cut oatmeal made in the slow cooker overnight ($2 for the week).  Total costs: less than $40.

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