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Week 42 – Saving Money And Some Time

If you’ve been a follower of my blog over the past 41 weeks, you’ve seen my vintage garlic-keeper mascot in many of the photos.

He unfortunately passed away this morning, the result of what I expect was some kind of disagreement…

… over his place in the pantry and with this “innocent” creature named Olive.

RIP Garlic Man, I’m very sad to see you go.


When I first began this year of inconvenience it was springtime and I was filled with ambition and the spirit of adventure. That bubble was adequately “popped” a few weeks later as I struggled to figure out how to make the time I needed to get the food I loved on my table, and more importantly, into my freezer. Local tomatoes were not in season and I didn’t have a hint of anything that resembled tomato sauce, pasta sauce, chicken stock, soup, or tortillas in my freezer. To make these things for myself I was spending the majority of both weekend days cooking, which meant my “free time” was limited and the whole situation was making me (and someone else in my house) a little crabby.

So here I am now with those 42 weeks behind me and only 10 more weeks to finish the year. My freezer is pretty well stocked and I have my regular routine of bread or cracker or granola baking planned out so I’m no longer in any panic for food essentials. In fact, I’m feeling pretty good about managing my time around food preparation, other than totally forgetting I had a bread rising in the warm bathroom last night – things are mostly under control.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with my readers, a time and cost comparison of the foods I hope to continue to make from scratch even in week 53. That’s the question I’m being asked now by a number of people, “when this is all over, what are you going to continue to make from scratch?” Besides a few more of my new favorites, these items are topping off the list.

Food Hands On Time Additional Cooking or Baking Time Cost Comparison
Corn Tortillas 35 minutes from mixing to pressing to cooking 8 tortillas None Holy cost savings – tortillas are the best value around! Only      3 ½¢ per ounce or 28¢ for 8 ounces compared to 89¢ for 12 ounces at the grocery store (7¢ an ounce)
English Muffin Bread 20 minutes to gather the ingredients and mix the batter 60-90 minutes rising time, 20 additional minutes baking time Organic cinnamon raisin bread costs me $2.77 to make a 16 oz loaf. The same size package of organic English muffins are $4.99at my co-op.
Pizza (crust and toppings) 65 minutes total, for crust and toppings (using frozen sauce I made) Crust rises for 30 minutes while prepping cheese and veggies. Bake for 15 minutes I obviously don’t know how much cheese is on the frozen pizza, I used 1/3 of a pound on my own. Cost is about 19¢ per ounce for homemade and 26¢ per ounce on the frozen as a cheese only pizza comparison.
Chicken Stock 10 minutes throwing everything into a large stockpot with water You need a slow simmer for at least 4 hours to get a rich tasting stock I use celery, carrot, onion, fresh thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns with my chicken carcass. I included the cost of the carcass when buying the whole chicken. No surprises here, at 3¢ per ounce homemade, 12¢ per ounce for Pacific brand.
Yogurt 20 minutes to bring milk up to temp, 20 minutes to let it cool down, add culture, wrap up in towel 8 hours or overnight unattended I didn’t think there would be much of a savings because the starter costs $1.16 a packet. However, using organic milk and starter, my homemade cost is only 8¢ per ounce compared to 11¢ per ounce of my favorite local brand, Sugar River.

I’m sure it’s not much of a surprise that things like chicken stock or homemade bread is so much more economical. What surprised me was that these things don’t take that much time and I can come home from work at 6:30 and still get a fresh-made, better than anything frozen, pizza on the table in just about one hour. I do believe I am becoming a convert of inconvenience. Except for beans… and pasta… and the occasional canned tomato imported from Italy that makes the best sauce ever. That is, until someone else can convince me otherwise.


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13 responses »

  1. Please accept my condolences for your great loss. I don’t know what to say.

    Your generous and sharing spirit is so impressive in a state of grief, and I want you to know I am using your recipes.

  2. Thanks Jill. Just means the hunt is on for a new garlic keeper. Can’t wait to cook with you in Taos!

  3. You might experiment with freezing some homemade pizza dough after the fist rise. Gently deflate, then form into a ball and pop into the freezer. Let it come back to temp slowly in the fridge, usually take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you want to use it. I’ve tried it on a number of different doughs with acceptable results- not *quite* as good as fresh, but better than the store!

  4. Thanks Rebecca, I’ll have to try that sometime as my batch of dough usually makes 2 pizzas.

  5. What an exciting year! What are your thoughts on making crackers again?

  6. Sarah – that’s a yes to crackers. I only like one kind of store-bought cracker and that is made in Madison. So besides buying those again, I’ll continue to make a few of my own (chocolate graham crackers and flax seed are my favorite)

  7. Not a convert (yet) to homemade pasta?
    Oh, but Pam — it’s so much better than dried! Plus, much like pizza dough, pasta dough can also be made ahead and frozen. Make double what you need on the weekend, and throw extra balls in the fridge. Thaw at room temp for a couple of hours or in the fridge overnight.

    Just made carbonara last night with homemade pasta, local eggs, and Guanciale from Bolzano. YUM.

  8. Does your cost calculation include accounting for spent time, eg X minutes at $y per minute, or is it just overt financial costs? Sorry if you’ve answered that before, I’m new and just reading back through.

  9. My condolences on your garlic keeper loss….my cat smashed my favorite platter from my grandma’s house. Fortunately eBay came to the rescue which gets me thinking how much business eBay must receive at the paws of our cats.

    • Thanks Liz – glad you could join the blog conversation. I did receive a new garlic keeper for Valentine’s day… from eBay of course. Since I posted that lots of people have shared stories with me of damage their pets have done to their favorite vintage treasurers. I know a lot of people can identify.

  10. Outside your excellent $ calculations, there are the important issues of packaging, both environmental and health, big on my list.
    Beans: with a pressure cooker, and very little active time or fuel, 2 cups of dry beans turn into about 5-6 containers with a can’s worth each for the freezer. Easy to keep a variety on hand.


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