Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I heart my breadmaker!

Bacon cheeseburgers with Honey Wheat Sandwich Roll

My MIL called one day when they were on the way to the Goodwill with a load of stuff to donate. She thought I might want this bread machine... I didn't know if I would ever really use it, but took it anyway with the thought that I'd try it out someday. It sat on the top of my fridge for months.

In this quest to be more frugal, I had started buying bread at the Franz outlet. Even though I was trying to buy the most healthy kind, whole wheat, whole grains, etc, I still thought there's gotta be stuff in there that we don't know what it is, or how it affects us, and I would really feel better about making my own. When I was in high school, my mom made bread all the time. She had a wheat grinder and a Bosch mixer (what an amazing appliance! And of course they don't make those specific ones anymore...) and had perfected her recipe. Soon, the job turned to me, and before I knew it, I didn't even need to look at the recipe. That however was over 15 years ago!

My sister had a bread machine she used just for making dough. So I thought I'd try mine out. Down it came, and then the hours spent looking online for the user guide. I finally found a free one to download, and I was in business. In reading people's blogs, and looking for recipes, I found there's TONS of recipes just for bread machines! And since I don't like baking the bread in the machine, I was super happy about discovering sites like I've been making pizza dough, bread, and rolls by putting the ingredients in the machine and walking away for an hour and a half! Come back, set things up for a 2nd rise if need be, and then bake in the oven. Super easy!

Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls in the bread machine

A favorite of mine to make now is Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls. My sister and I were grocery shopping together, both with hamburgers on our menus. We looked through the bread sections for healthy buns, and the ones we going to settle on were approximately $4 for the package. "Do you want to split them?" we asked, not wanting to spend that much on a bread product. Not really. Well, I guess were going home to look for a hamburger bun recipe! She found the recipe, tried it first and liked it, so I made my attempt. My husband loves them!! They're great for sandwiches, hamburgers, or just eating them plain (my 17 month old gobbles them!).

Rolls rising, and fresh out of the oven.

I started out following the recipes I've found exactly to see how they turn out and now I'm experimenting with adding whole wheat flour, flax meal, etc to make things more healthy. As bad as I felt about eating white bread in the beginning, I thought at least I know whats in it! Now, I'm using my mom's old wheat grinder and we have fresh ground wheat flour! So much better for us than store bought. I've read there's more protein in fresh ground and many more benefits I'm sure that I haven't even found out yet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Comparing grocery prices

I just took a late night trip to the local grocery store to compare prices on groceries I bought last week. I knew there would be some big differences, especially with the things I got at a liquidator store. But there were some surprises as well... sometimes bulk isn't the best price! I'm so excited to see what I'm really saving though! My favorite is the Starbucks coffee! I'll put the prices I could have paid in ( ). Some are not exact, due different package sizes, having to figure out ounces vs pounds, etc.

S +S Liquidators:

3 cans S+W white beans 1.17 (3.00)
1 can tomato paste .29 (.99)
2 bunches of bananas 1.00 (1.77)
2 onions .50 (1.18)
Disp razors 1.99 (5.49)
5 bulbs garlic 1.00 (2.50)
1 lb fresh ginger 1.00 (3.99)
Kettle chips (big bag) .99 (2.50)
Quaker Oat squares 1.99 (3.99)
Fiber One honey clusters 1.99 (4.49)
Fiber One bars .99 (3.00)
1oz Cheerios container .25 (1.99)
Starbucks 12 oz beans x2 3.49 (17.98)

TOTAL 16.65 (52.87)

So that's pretty amazing right?

Here's Winco:

Thomas Bagel (ww) 1.48 (4.19)
WW Tortilla 2.98 (5.49)
Mozzarella cheese 2 lb 3.98 (5.99)
Bandon cheddar 2 lb 4.98 (6.49)
Cream Cheese x2 1.96 (2.98)
4 lbs Chicken legs 4.03 (4.03)
½ lb sliced pepperoni 1.95 (2.50)
2.09 lb broccoli 2.05 (4.15)
Green onions .48 (.79)
5 lb potato 1.28 (2.99)
1.58 lb Fuji apple 1.39 (1.58)
2.49 lb oranges 1.44 (2.44)
Olive oil spray 2.16 (2.79)
Kraft BBQ sauce .98 (1.97)
Whipped topping 1.18 (1.50)
Langers apple juice 1.58 (1.99)
3 lbs beef patties 5.98 (7.99)
.29 lb yeast .89 (6.49)
3.45 lb sugar 1.86 (1.37)
.35 lb baking powder .37 (1.19)
.28 lb flax seed meal .40 (1.31)
.20 lb slivered almonds .82 (3.95)
4.86 lb white bread flour 1.99 (2.05)

TOTAL 46.21 (76.22)

Alot of the ( ) were sale prices even! Some items didn't have that much of a difference in price, but things like the yeast?? Shocker! I love it! Things like spices and baking stuff (but watch the chocolate chips...) are way cheaper in bulk. Flour and sugar, not necessarily, as you can see. But all together, we're talking about a 50% savings!! I paid $62.86 total and could have spent $126.23. Even with the gas it took me to get to these stores (30-ish miles round trip), still WAY worth it.

Evan, almost 17 months old, sitting in his new chair, and sporting his boots and plaid shirt he brought me to put on him.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I remember when I was a kid, every friday night my dad would come home, get the checkbook, go to the bank, and then go pick up the pizza that mom had ordered. We have the BEST pizza place in town so what a great friday night dinner that always was. It became a great birthday tradition in our house as well.

Unfortunately, pizza every friday night doesn't fit in our budget these days. But several months ago, I told my husband that there was no reason why we shouldn't still have pizza every friday night even if we couldn't afford to get take-out. So began my experimenting with different doughs, toppings, etc.

The pizza above was made with Pizza Hut Style Pizza Dough (without the msg). I made this same recipe last week, and it was like thick crust, so I divided it in half this time and made 2 pizzas. The first time I made it I pre-baked the crust for a few minutes. But this time, I opted not to pre-bake since it was much thinner. I did have to bake the pizzas longer however. The pepperoni I bought at Winco, $2 worth that was enough for 2 pizzas. Cheese was also purchased at Winco for $3.98 for 2 lbs. I only used half of the brick for these 2 pizzas shown here. So including the 1/2 can of pineapple pieces I used on the pepporoni (liquidator store for .69 i think), the ingredients I had on hand (homemade pizza sauce, flour, yeast, etc), cheese, and pep, the total for this weeks 2 pizzas was roughly $4!!

The 2nd pizza is just plain cheese, a favorite of mine when I was a little girl. But I think I should have baked it longer so it might have had that crisper crust and browned cheese on top. Mmmm... nothing better than bubbly golden cheese! I thought my 16 month old would enjoy the plain vs the spicy pepperoni.

My husband and I went to Italy for our honeymoon and enjoyed real Italian pizza several times. I've been searching for a recipe that would mimic that. I might try Pizza Marinara this week. We'll see if I have time to do the dough by hand. :) (I usually use the bread machine.)

I found this recipe for All Purpose Pizza Sauce at The Grocery Cart Challenge recipe swap a while back:

All Purpose Pizza Sauce

1 can (28oz) tomato puree
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup water
1 T dried parsley
2 t basil
1 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c olive oil
2 T garlic powder
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 t salt

Just wisk it all together! I put mine in ice cube trays and when solid, transfered them to freezer bags and just take out a few each time I make pizza. So convienient and yummy!!

Its been fun to try different recipes, add different spices to the doughs, try different flours, think of different toppings, etc. Most every pizza you've ever seen or tasted, you can make at home! You can go as cheap or expensive as your budget allows.