Suddenly Frugal Seal of Approval: Bread Maker

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When you look back at previous products that have gotten my Suddenly Frugal Seal of Approval, you’ll see that I have a fondness for things in the kitchen. I have given my blog’s thumbs up to a rice cooker, a cheese grater, and kitchen shears, among other items. Perhaps it’s because one of the ways I found the biggest savings in our suddenly frugal life was in meal planning and cooking at home.

For example, one of our big downfalls in our formerly spendthrift life was ordering in pizza two to three times a week. Once we were living on a budget, that was a no-no, and pizza because an occasional treat only. Then one day a friend of mine told me that I could buy balls of dough from our local pizzeria (for $3 a pop), and then make pizza at home. Given that a single pie that the pizzeria made cost about $15, that was a huge savings! One day, I swore, I would go one step further and make my own pizza dough so I could save that $3, and, in essence, make “free” pizza at home.

I’m happy to report that this day has arrived, now that I own a Cuisinart Automatic Bread Maker. I got it as a birthday gift last year. From what I’ve read the product stands head and shoulders above other bread makers because it kneads the dough for you, warms it so it can rise, and then, if you’d like, can bake it into whichever kind of bread you were hoping to make.

I hadn’t actually taken the bread maker out of the box until I did that cooking hotline TV segment for the “10! Show” earlier this fall. (Sorry about that, dad!) One of the products I was talking about that has a cooking hotline is Fleischmann’s yeast, and Fleischmann’s makes not only a pizza dough yeast but a bread maker yeast, too.

Before I went on TV to talk about the product, I decided to try making pizza dough in the bread maker. It was so simple–just add ingredients, and press the “dough” option on the menu. When the machine stopped about 40 minutes later, I had a perfect ball of dough that I could roll out for pizza. Once baked I was thrilled to discover that it tasted like the stuff we paid for at the pizzeria.

A few weeks later I had a bunch of bananas that were past their prime and really should have gone into the compost pile. But that would have been throwing food/money away, and my frugal self hates to do that. (One study says that Americans throw away $600 in food every year. That’s a month’s worth of groceries for some folks!) So I pulled out the cookbook that came with the bread maker and looked up banana bread. Sure, enough, I could easily make a batch–or three–with these old bananas. The only prep work I had to do was mashing the bananas ahead of time.

In about an hour’s time, we had a delicious-smelling and delicious-tasting, freshly baked loaf of banana bread. None of use could wait until morning to eat it for breakfast. It was our before-bed snack. Besides being able to make a yummy, homemade snack for my family, I was happy that I’d figured out a way to use of what we already owned without wasting money.

I realize that this concept is nothing new to long-time frugal folks and born-and-bred Yankees, like my mother who hails from Maine. But for folks of my generation, this is a huge step in the right frugal direction. And I have the bread maker to thank for helping me along the way to make items at home that I would normally pay for in a store or restaurant, and not to waste food in the process. That’s why I’m giving my Suddenly Frugal Seal of Approval to my Cuisinart Automatic Bread Maker.