Bread was the top of my list of most frequently purchased and frequently eaten by kids so it was a logical first step for our family. In the beginning we purchased organic bread. It was pricey. I did manage to figure out which brands froze well and bought large quantities when they were on sale. Bread takes up a lot of room in your freezer and as we discovered other things that needed space in the freezer, I looked for another way. I discovered it at Goodwill. Goodwill is one of my favorite places to shop for lots of reasons – price, variety, price, quality, and price. It also fits in neatly with my desire to recycle and lessen the burden on the landfills in our area. Anyway, at Goodwill I found a brand new breadmaker including the instructions for just $15! What a steal. I went right home and got baking.
It took a little while but I discovered recipes for making whole wheat for sandwiches and a passable French bread for dinners. Baking bread with a breakmaker is ridiculously simple. It takes about five minutes (or less). The only trick is dumping the ingredients in to the pan in the correct order. Basically, all the wet ingredients, followed by all the dry ingredients finishing with flour and yeast at the very end. Then you simply press a button and wait. My house always smells wonderful now because bread is always baking! One loaf costs me about ¼ of what it costs to buy a loaf at the store. And better yet – it tastes better! Here we go again, saving money and eating yummier! I just discovered some bread bags that are supposed to help your bread stay fresh longer. I’ll let you know in a later post if they work.
You can find your own breadmaker at resale shops or garage sales. They are not hard to find. Lots of people got them with good intentions or as Christmas or wedding presents and used them once or twice before disparaging of the space they take up on the counter or the weight they gained eating fresh bread all the time. They are out there – start looking! You can always buy your own, but you’ll feel more justified finding one used or free! Be sure to ask your relatives, someone’s bound to have one they’d love to unload. A word about the calories – it is tempting in the beginning to have a fresh slice with lots of butter every time it’s baked, but after awhile you’ll figure out how to make a lighter bread and once you’re baking everyday, you won’t feel quite as tempted to indulge every time.
When I’m making bread for my kids’ sandwiches or toast, I try to make the bread as packed with healthy ingredients as possible. I always add in flax meal. Flax is a powerhouse of omega 3’s and fiber and makes your bread moister. I also substitute milk for the water to add in more nutrients and use whole grain flours only. If your kids don’t think that adding nuts is the worst thing you can do to a food (particularly cookies) you can add sunflower seeds or any kind of crushed nut. I do sneak in almond meal on occasion, but their nut radar is too sharp for me so far. There are so many different types of flour these days that your options are only limited by your imagination.
Baking your own bread will save you money. Big money. But it will also be good for your spirit. Creating something that is healthy and delicious and so simple makes will not just nourish your body, but your spirit. This is an easy change – try it.
One last note – it’s helpful to purchase a good bread cutting board (has a box underneath it to catch crumbs). I found mine at Goodwill (of course), but I’ve also seen them in kitchen stores. A good serrated knife will also make your bread slicing more satisfying. I’ve been looking for a bread slicing knife that also portions the bread (has a metal measure attached to the blade). I’ve seen them before but can’t find one now that I’m actually looking for one. If you know where to find one – please let me know!
I’m going to try to add a recipe section to this blog. When I do, I’ll post my recipes for half-wheat bread that is kid-friendly and great for sandwiches.