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Bake and save

When I first set out to make my own bread, I wasn’t sure what it would cost. My main objective was to improve our overall nutrition intake and health.

Turns out that making your own bread can be healthy for your pocketbook, too!

As with any other DIY project, your choice of resources – in this case recipe ingredients – will affect the cost of your loaves. When you analyze what it costs you to make bread, don’t leave out the cost involved in the actual baking. Whether your oven is electric or gas, you pay for energy it requires to use it. If you bake your bread in the bread machine, you’re using electricity there, too.

Typically, flour is the main ingredient in bread recipes, a good place to start if you’re concerned about the cost of your homemade bread.

There are many, many flour options available. You’ll find a wide variety of flours both in grocery stores and online. Keep in mind that ordering flour online will involve shipping. Since flour is a weighty item, shipping will quickly add to the cost of your bread loaves.

As you select flour, don’t hesitate to experiment with different options. In the beginning, I was quite certain I wanted bread flour for my recipes. When I found myself with only all-purpose flour as an option, I found that I actually preferred using all-purpose flour instead of bread flour.

You can also blend flours to suit individual tastes. If your family declines to eat whole grain flours, and you want to boost the nutritional value of your bread loaves, you can add some whole grain flour to your recipe (do some experimenting to find a balance that is acceptable). Seeds such as flax will also quickly boost the nutrition of bread without greatly changing its taste or texture.

Generally, whole grain flours are more costly than highly processed options. You may be able to reduce those costs by grinding your own grains. Grinding enough grain for one loaf of bread (less than 4 cups of grain) takes as little as 10 minutes with a high-speed blender. The flour could be prepared well ahead of time and stored in the freezer. One cup of grain will produce about 1 ¼ cups of flour.

When purchasing flour, you can know that five pounds of flour will produce about five two-pound loaves of bread. If organic products are a priority, there are organic all-purpose flours that are inexpensive enough that a two-pound loaf will cost right about $1 once you add in all the ingredients and elements involved: flour, sweetener, salt, fat (butter or oil), use of oven.

If you purchase flour on sale, your bread baking costs could be quite a bit less than $1 per loaf.

In calculating what you’re willing to invest in a loaf of bread, keep in mind that you can use homemade bread to make French toast, bread pudding, stuffing, breadcrumbs, etc. You can save money on numerous items by baking your own bread.

If baking your own bread requires purchasing some equipment – bread machine, bread pans, digital thermometer – calculate how much time it will take to recover those costs. It’s likely you’ll decide that homemade bread really is a bargain!

Longtime journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of, “Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever!” and regularly shares recipes and information about bread baking on her website, www.bakeyourbestever.com.

You’ll find her book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at www.bakeyourbestever.com. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at “Mother Earth Living,” “Grit Magazine,” Facebook (Secrets to Baking Your Best Ever), Twitter @bakeyourbestever and Pinterest at “Secrets to Baking Your Best Bread Ever.”

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