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.
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.