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Friday, June 11, 2010

How Making Bread and Yogurt REALLY Save Money

A few of my readers opined that yogurt-making is not a huge money saver, because you can get it cheaply at Trader Joe's and the like. Would that Trader Joe's* would open here.

I usually accede to the wisdom of my readers. But then I wondered: If it doesn't pay to make your own yogurt, how come my food costs are so low, lower even than the Food Stamp allowance, I believe. I don't use coupons; we eat very well; we are picky about quality, especially of cheese, and so on. No junk food or faux food for us.

Eventually I realized that, like Dorothy, I had the answer in front of me all along. In my very own post about how gardening saves money. In that post, I argued that we saved money with gardening because we ate a lot of, say, kale, and the kale displaced other things we might have bought.

Mr. FS and I (and our dear children, when they are home) consume tons of delicious bread and yogurt. Who wouldn't?

I just consulted with Mr. FS, who makes the bread and the yogurt. He says he makes yogurt twice a week--that would be 4 quarts. He bakes once a week--that would be 3 loaves plus two baguettes.

You may picture us eating yogurt upon yogurt, joylessly looking at our bank balance. Or piece of bread upon piece of bread, ditto.

But no. Right now, I am looking at a cookbook (a favorite pastime), daydreaming about what I will be cooking. The cookbook under my gaze is Joyce Goldstein's Solo Suppers:

I am considering making the Persian meatball soup on page 50, since I have some frozen meatballs: meatballs, chickpeas, other stuff in yogurt-thickened chicken broth.

Or maybe the chicken and bread soup on page 43, a delicious sounding soup, thickened with bread.

And we still have lots of greens. How about white bean guazzetto with shellfish and greens on page 47?

And that's just in the soup chapter. The book has the Search Inside feature I love so much, so you can check out Goldstein's recipes yourself.

Not ONE of these recipes will require a trip to the store for me: everything is in the pantry, freezer, fridge, or garden. More savings--of time, not to mention the planet.**

We don't eat much dessert, but if you blend frozen bananas with a little yogurt and a dash of vanilla in the food processor (stick blender doesn't work here), you get something very like soft-serve ice cream. I learned that trick from Martha Shulman's Fast Vegetarian Feasts.

No dreary dinners for us.

*Mr. FS grew up in Pasadena, site of the very first TJ's. There really was a Joe.

**We went to a wonderful concert last week, featuring Don Vappie and his band and Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet. Many cracks were made by the musicians concerning the latest environmental disaster. Michael Doucet said "BP stands for beaucoup pissed-off."


Duchesse said...

Oh, I love Beausoleil.

I took a day to cook my butt off, made an Indian dinner for a GF. Grinding own spices bought fresh that day, etc. Though she professed to love Indian food, she picked at it. I was mournful. So in that mood, will observe that sometimes one's time is worth something and the next time (for her) it will be curry sauce out of the jar slapped on something. Le Duc ate leftovers and pronounced them divine so it was not a total waster.

My point (besides feeling better venting) is that sometimes I would rather have the time than the savings.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--So frustrating. Maybe she doesn't like REAL Indian food...I guess the moral is: always make enough for leftovers, especially if you have an appreciative eater.

Shelley said...

I'm going to have to buy some expensive yoghurt to see how it tastes before I decide whether to switch. I just found 500g of low fat (probably not what you have in mind when you say 'yoghurt') for 50 pence; I use it to mix with mayo and lemon for salad dressing, with fruits and honey for smoothies, or for a low fat substitute for sour cream in some recipes (but just adding it at the end, not cooking it). We discovered Trader Joe's at Bill's 60th Birthday tour of Route 66 back in 2008 (blogged all about it). Wish we had them over here as well!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--We like the kind with no additives--perhaps easier to find in Europe?