If you’ve read my book, “7 Money Rules for Life,” you know that rule number one is so simple it would be easy to overlook it as being too elementary. Here it is: Spend less than you earn.
Now, let’s think about this. “Spend less than you earn” is not the same as “Don’t spend more than you earn.” That implies it would be OK to spend all that you earn, but no. The operative word is “less.” You need a gap between what you earn and how much of it you spend. That is the fundamental secret for living below your means.
It’s in that gap that financial freedom can grow. You really need to read the rest of the book, but for now, let’s just say that widening the gap is the challenge. Spending less is the way to do that.
Increase your gap this week, even if only by a few dollars, by making your own bread. Wait! Hear me out. There are so many reason you should consider this.
Making bread at home may prevent one of those quick trips to the market to pick up a loaf of bread, which seldom ends up only that one item, right? Another: When you make it yourself, you know what’s in it. And here’s the biggie: You’ll cut your food costs right out of the gate!
I have a recipe for you that is so amazing, so simple and so foolproof you’ll be tempted to call it Einstein bread because it will make you feel like a genius. It’s fast and easy. And guess what? No kneading. This is so simple that even a fifth grader could do it (with a bit of adult oversight, of course!)
Actually, this is English muffin bread, and trust me — toasted with butter and jam, this is pure heaven. It makes awesome grilled cheese sandwiches, too.
In my family’s opinion, this bread is better than commercial English muffins (a package of six Thomas English Muffins is $2.99, or cents each at my local supermarket) and way cheaper. This yields four loaves of bread, and my estimated cost is about $2.50 total, or 62 cents per loaf.
ENGLISH MUFFIN BREAD
5 1/2 cups warm water
6 3/4 teaspoons (32 grams or three 1/4 ounce packages) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons (36 grams) salt
3 tablespoons (38 grams) sugar
11 cups (1,485 grams) all-purpose flour
Place all ingredients in a very large bowl and mix by hand or with an electric mixer just until incorporated. It will turn into a very wet and sticky dough. Leave the dough in the bowl on the countertop. Let it rise until double in size (a few hours).
Once it has risen, spoon the sticky dough into four well-greased loaf pans. Leave pans on the counter and allow the dough to rise again until it reaches the top of each of the pans.
Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. About 10 minutes before it’s done (at about 35 minutes), brush with melted butter. Makes four loaves.
The bread will be super moist at first. It’s best if allowed to cool completely before cutting. Makes the best toast. Can be frozen when topped with a single paper towel and then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. This recipe can be halved to yield two loaves.
Find more, including photos, at EverydayCheapskate.com/bread/.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”