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PamMehnert

Hi, I'm Pam Mehnert

As Outpost's general manager, Pam's work keeps her at the office, in meetings, or in front of her computer more than a simple 40 hours each week. However, her passion as a foodie has driven her to take on this challenge for the culinary experience of...
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Pam Mehnert

Week 42 - Saving Money And Some Time

A Year of Inconvenience
For one year, I'm making everything from scratch and forgoing convenience foods. Join me on my journey! By Pam Mehnert on February 9, 2011

 

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 $4.99 at 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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