We all know that cooking and baking from scratch has many benefits:
- It’s often cheaper than buying prepared foods.
- It’s more healthful because you control the ingredients.
- It’s fun (for many people…).
Here are some ways I’ve found to save money buying baking ingredients and grains:
:: Be prepared to properly store your grains. I store my grains in glass containers in my pantry and my extra flour in the freezer. If you are serious about stockpiling “real” food, you may want to start looking for affordable, used freezers on craigslist.
:: Stock up when there’s a hot sale at the grocery stores. Once or twice a year, Quaker Oats will be less than $1 for a large tub. Think of how much you will use in a 4-6 month period and stock-up. Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour (5 lb bags) goes on sale for $2.50 at New Seasons twice a year. Store it in the freezer to maintain the freshness.
:: Be prepared for the sales to come. Baking and cooking stapes will be free or nearly free in the late fall (late October, November and beginning of December). You should be able to get a year’s worth of baking powder, soda, stock, sugar, flour and chocolate chips for a fraction of WinCo’s generic.
:: Buy in bulk. This is one case where WinCo is a good place to regularly shop as their bulk prices usually can’t be beat. And at the volume they sell, you can be assured that what you are buying is fairly fresh. And WinCo also sells organic items, as does Fred Meyer and New Seasons. It is probably worth your time to price check these three stores on the grains your family regularly uses.
:: Take a field trip to the Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store. For those of you in the Portland Metro area, you should really check out the selection and prices at the retail store in Milwaukie. They have an amazing selection of every grain product you could imagine. And the prices are fantastic, especially for a high quality product.
:: If you use a large amount of flour and are concerned with quality, consider buying a grinder and make your own flour. I’ve heard that you can taste the difference and you should save money.
:: Check out Azure Standard, a distributor out of Dufur, OR that specializes in natural, organic, earth-friendly foods and products. They deliver directly to customers and buying clubs. You make a larger order with Azure and it is delivered to a drop in your local area, typically someone’s home or a small business. They usually have unbeatable prices on bulk items.
:: Buy your bread at a bakery outlet. The Franz Bakery Outlet and the Oroweat Bakery Outlet (several locations throughout the Portland area) regularly have high-fructose corn syrup-free bread for under $2 a loaf. And it is not old bread. It’s the same loaves they send to the grocery stores. I haven’t purchased bread in the grocery store in years! I just hit one of the bakery outlets once every few weeks when I’m driving buy and buy 4-6 loaves and store a few in the refrigerator. Both outlets also have a program where you buy a certain amount and get free product.
:: Try your hand at making your own bread. We absolutely love the Amazing No-Knead Bread recipe and also the Artisan Bread. You may not save a whole bunch from buying it at the bakery outlets, but you can’t beat ingredients that you recognize!
The key to saving money on grains, and all “real” food, is to be intentional with your spending and be strategic with your timing. When Quaker Oats go on sale for 90% of WinCo’s generic brand, buy enough to get you through until the next sale. And it’s also key to not overbuy a sale item. Watch your expiration dates and be realistic with how much you really need. Try baking your own bread a few times before you buy a vat of flour from Bob’s Red Mill!
I’m not much of a baker (or cook, for that matter!). I’d love to hear your tips on how to save money on grains and baking supplies!
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