Posts Tagged ‘bread and milk’

It’s really not about the money.

We started our journey into homemade not for financial reasons, but because we wanted to eat better.  It was also a challenge – can we make this ourselves? How far down the production ladder can we reasonably go?  We’re certainly not  diehards and, whilst we don’t buy pre-prepared or packaged food if we can help it, we’re still happy to eat out at restaurants and purchase spice mixes and condiments.

So it was never really about the money.  But the unexpected bonus is, over the past few years, we’ve saved a fortune.  Our food costs are about half of what they used to be, despite the substantial improvement in the quality of our meals.  We regularly cook more than we can eat – because it’s fun to do, and we love to share – but also because it seems so easy to have an abundance when you’re cooking from first principles.

There are many articles written about frugal living, but they usually tout the same (albeit sound) advice – eat seasonally, pack your own lunches, make use of your leftovers and so forth.  I’ve been trying to identify the things that really save us money, and thought it might be nice to blog about these over the next few months.

So here is our first suggestion – the one that started the ball rolling for us:

Bake your own bread and buy your milk in bulk.

We started baking bread in January 2007 and have never looked back. As I’ve mentioned before, apart from the health benefits (no additives, lower GI), it costs us about 65c per loaf for good sourdough, which is a huge saving over even the cheapest commercial bread.

We also buy our milk in bulk – easy to do here in Australia because UHT milk is both readily available and economical.  Our boys are more than happy to drink it, and it’s perfect for cooking and making yoghurt. I know many people are quite particular about their milk and won’t touch UHT, but it certainly suits our lifestyle – we buy 48 litres at a time, which will last us for several months unrefrigerated.  In general, UHT is cheaper than fresh, because it’s made in batches whenever the dairies have surplus milk.

Now, while homemade bread and bulk milk purchases save us money, the real reason it’s our top tip for frugal living is this: when you take away the need to buy bread and milk twice a week, you also remove the need to go to the supermarket every few days.

We buy our meat from the butchers, fresh produce from the markets and deli goods from a specialist supplier – which means we only need to go to the supermarket about once a month, if that.  This single change to our shopping routine has saved us a lot of money – it’s surprising how much we used to spend at the supermarket, on items which were both frivolous and unnecessary.  But more importantly, when freed from the “supermarket mindset”, we started to seek out specialised and passionate food suppliers, and the quality of what we were eating improved dramatically.

If you’d like to give breadmaking a go, you might find this tutorial useful.  Be warned though, once you start, it’s hard to go back to boring commercial bread.  And when you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you’ll be able to create everything from your own sandwich loaves to pizzas.  Have fun!

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