Top 10 Reasons to Make Your Own Bread

1. Deliciousness
Very few things are more delicious than hot bread right out of the oven (slathered in butter), in my humble opinion.

2. Cheaper
You can save a lot of money by buying your ingredients in bulk.  Even if you don’t buy in bulk, you will definitely save money.

3. Fresh and Nutritious
In general, food loses nutritional value over time, so your fresh bread is super nutritious.

4. You can make it exactly the way you want it
Do you want 100% whole wheat bread?  Do you want multigrain bread with oatmeal and millet? Do you want your bread to be high in fiber, gluten-free, a little sweet or a little sour?  Do you want your bread sweetened with honey, sugar, or maple syrup?  Making your own bread makes you the master of your carb universe.  All you fellow control freaks will appreciate that.

5. Know your ingredients
Here are the ingredients of my whole wheat honey bread:
soy milk, canola oil, honey, salt, whole wheat, gluten, yeast

Here are the ingredients of Sara Lee’s Delightful 100% whole wheat bread: Water, Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Cottonseed Fiber, Yeast, Brown Sugar, Contains 2% or Less Of Each Of the Following Salt, Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil, and or Cottonseed Oil), Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More Of the Following Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Peroxide), Honey, Wheat Bran, Wheat Protein Isolate, Sulfiting Agents, Vinegar, Natural Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Sucralose, Cornstarch, L-Cysteine, Sorbic Acid, and Calcium Propionate (Preservatives)

6. Easy and convenient
In my house, it is a national emergency if we run out of bread. If I notice at 4 pm that we are running out of bread, it is honestly easier to take 5 minutes to put the ingredients in the bread maker (7 minutes if I hadn’t cleaned the pan since the last loaf), and have bread 3 hours later than to load my children in their car seats and go to the supermarket.

7. Even the mistakes taste good
One time I forgot to add yeast to my buttermilk white bread.  My husband said it was his favorite loaf ever.  When I was getting my recipes right, sometimes the bread was a little brick-like, or the top would fall in and be concave.  You know what?  It still tasted good.

8. Your children will eat it
My picky toddler loves my whole wheat honey bread.  If you let your picky eater push the start button on your bread maker, he or she will most certainly eat the bread that comes out of it.

9.  Fill your home with the smell of baking bread
Some folks find it easier to get out of bed in the morning when the house is filled the aroma of baking bread.

10. Folks will be impressed by your domesticity
And, in my case, might overlook what a poor housekeeper I am.

Interested in making your own bread?  Check out my Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Coming Soon:  Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Coming Soon:  Part 5 -- Special Treats (white bread, rolls, etc.)

This post is part of Top Ten Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday.

100% Natural Diaper Cream (Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment)

Let me begin by saying that, if you are going to pay attention to the ingredients in any personal product, it might as well be one of the products that comes in contact with your baby's private parts potentially several times a day (diaper cream, baby wipes, diapers, etc.).  Now let me tell you about

My Journey to a 100% Natural Diaper Cream

A+D Diaper Rash Cream, Zinc Oxide Cream, 4 oz (113 g) (Pack of 4)
1. A+D Diaper Rash Cream
Baby #1 was VERY rashy -- in disposables and in cloth. We used A+D diaper cream because my husband's sister gave us about 15 of their pumps (which she loved, obviously). When I heard about phthalates, I called A+D (because "fragrance" is on its list of ingredients, and phthalates can be one of the secret chemicals in "fragrance") and they told me, "no phthalates." So, despite my reservations about its ingredients, I kept using it.

method baby Squeaky Green Diaper Cream, Rice Milk + Mallow 5.4 oz (153 g)
2. Method Diaper Cream
When the A+D ran out, we bought Method diaper cream. Method is a line of affordable green personal products and cleaning products available at Target and other stores.  Their diaper cream is very reasonably priced, spreads really easily, no super-troubling ingredients, mild pleasant smell. By this point I had switched from disposables to cloth diapers.  We always had a liner (diaper sheet-ish thing) between the diaper cream and the cloth diaper, so the diaper cream didn't get smeared all over the cloth diaper.

3. Burt's Bees Diaper Cream
With Baby #2, I have not yet used liners with her diapers, so I needed a diaper cream that would wash off my cloth diapers in the laundry. I'm not sure Method Diaper Cream would wash out of cloth well. I now use Burt's Bees diaper cream, which is one of the diaper creams that my favorite cloth diaper shop (Jillian Drawer's) said was OK to use with cloth.

Here is what you need to know about Burt's Bees diaper cream
  • One very small tube is about $8, but a little goes a long way.
  • Like other Burt's Bees products, you can buy it at Target.
  • Burt's Bees diaper cream is quite thick, but spreads very easily.
  • It is 100% natural!
  • It does have a pretty strong smell, which some folks might not like.
  • Ingredients:   Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, zinc oxide, beeswax, lavandula hybrida (lavandin) oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, tocopherol, lavendula angustifolia (lavender) oil, anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, canola oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil

I have used about 1/3 -1/2 of the tube and Baby #2 is now 10 months old. Of course she hasn't been as rashy as Baby #1. We put the cream on her bottom when it is a little red and the redness quickly goes away. We've never gotten to the bumpy red spots with her. If I were more adventurous and experimental, I might just use olive oil. My mother-in-law told me she knew people who did that back in the day.  But I'm not really experimental.  Once I find something that works, I stick with it.

I highly recommend Burt's Bees diaper cream.  Find recommendations for other natural diaper creams here (scroll down to Diaper Creams heading).

This post is part of Things I Love Thursday.

What's in your favorite diaper cream?

Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread (Part 3) -- Vegan Whole Wheat Bread

Great Lakes Select Honey, 32-Ounce Plastic Flat (Pack of 3)
I personally love love love my whole wheat honey bread that I make in my bread maker (find the recipe in this post).  Because of that no-honey-before-one-year-old business, I tried making my bread with sugar instead of honey so I could give it to the baby, but it was so sad in comparison to my usual bread that I couldn't make the switch.  My sister, however, is vegan and makes a delicious loaf of whole wheat bread with NO HONEY!  Here is her amazingly nutritious and delicious recipe (warning: this bread is very filling).

Natalie’s Vegan Whole Wheat Bread

Add ingredients into bread machine in the following order:
2 1/8 cups water (room temp)
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
3-4 tablespoons vital wheat gluten *
      (* if needed – depends on protein content of wheat)
2+ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce or oil
1/2 cup flaxseed (ground)
3 cups high protein whole wheat (ground)
Makes a very large loaf, too large for many bread machines. Natalie uses a Breadman Bread Machine.

NOTE: If a very high protein wheat is not available, more wheat gluten will need to be added to the wheat flour. Natalie buys a 17% protein whole wheat at the Bosch kitchen center. Find more suggestions for buying wheat berries in this post.

Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread (Part 2) -- Homemade Bread Even CHEAPER by buying in bulk

Once you get in the groove with making your own bread, you'll want to buy in bulk to save yourself some money.  Here is where I buy my ingredients.

Hard Red Wheat Berries, 1 lb.
  • Organic whole wheat berries (which I grind myself into wheat): Azure Standard for about $12/50 pound bag.  My sister buys her wheat at a Bosch kitchen center.  It is more expensive but also has very high (17%) protein-content, which means she doesn't have to add any gluten to her recipe.  You can buy 50 pounds of whole wheat for about $50 (including shipping) from Honeyville Grain, which is probably about the same as the Whole Foods bulk bins.  Anybody know other good places to get wheat berries?  It might not be a great idea to buy whole wheat flour in bulk since whole wheat flour goes rancid after a while and you'd have to store it in the fridge/freezer.  More on grinding your own wheat in a future post.
Silk Soymilk, Original, 8.25-Ounce Aseptic Cartons (Pack of 18)Bob's Red Mill Non-Fat Dry Milk Powder, 26-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)
  • Cow's milk or soy milk: I don't buy this in bulk.  If you want to use powdered milk + water instead of milk, you can probably buy that in bulk.
  • Salt: I don't buy this in bulk.  You don't use that much anyway and salt is pretty darn cheap regardless.
Miller's Honey, Wild, 3-Pound Jar (Pack of 2)
  • Honey: I used to buy honey at Costco. Since reading about honey laundering, I only buy local honey directly from the producer. Honey has an indefinite shelf life but may crystallize after a while.
  • Gluten: Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten, online or at Whole Foods.
  • Active Dry Yeast: Costco (about $5 for 1 pound, which is about one million times cheaper than buying yeast in those puny jars at the supermarket).  I store it in a mason jar in the freezer.

Where do you buy your bread ingredients?

Posts in the series -- Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Part 5 -- A Special Treat: Buttermilk White Bread

Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread (Part 1) -- 5 Easy Steps to Get Started

Oster 5838 ExpressBake Breadmaker, White
1. Buy a bread maker on Craig’s List for $10.
It seems that 50% of the population has a bread maker in their garage that they have used 0-5 times.  There are usually several for sale on Craig’s List within my city at any given time.  You may even already have a bread maker yourself in the garage, or have a family member who would love to get rid of theirs.  If this whole homemade bread thing doesn’t work out for you, you’ve lost very little money on the experiment.

Bob's Red Mill, Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 22 oz (1 lb 6 oz) 623 g

2. Buy a few ingredients.
You probably already have salt and oil.  To make my recipe, you will also need whole wheat flour, honey, gluten (I buy Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten at Whole Foods), and active dry yeast (not instant).  You also need measuring cups and spoons.

3. Choose a recipe.
I found a recipe for 100% whole wheat bread with honey as a sweetener with 200+ positive reviews on, and used that along with my sisters' recipes as a starting point.  You can find variations and substitutions other folks have tried in the comments.  Your bread maker instruction book probably has a few recipes as well.  Or you can just try my recipe at the end of this post.

4. Make the bread a few times.
You’ll want to watch the first time and make sure the dough looks right a few minutes into the kneading process.  Is it wet, sticky but forming into a ball?  Good.  Otherwise, add 1 T water or 1 T flour until it looks right.  There will be some trial and error to make a loaf that you love.  All of my loaves were edible.  After 2 or 3, my husband said the bread was good enough to replace our favorite store-bought whole wheat bread.  Here is a troubleshooting guide if you encounter other difficulties (your bread maker’s instruction guide will have something like this too).

5. Enjoy your delicious, nutritious, homemade bread.
My husband, sister, toddler, baby and I all love our homemade bread.  I make it every 2-3 days.  It takes me about 5 minutes to prepare and less than 3 hours to knead/rise/bake in the machine.  If you let your toddler press the START button on the bread maker, he or she will most certainly eat the bread that comes out of it.

My toddler eating homemade whole wheat bread.

Betsy’s Recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Bread (using a Bread Machine)

1 1/8 c warm milk or soy milk (45 sec. microwave)
2 T oil
2T - 1/3 c honey (I use 1/3 c and my bread is yummy)
1 1/2 t salt
1 pound whole wheat (2.5 cups berries ground into flour OR about 3 - 3.5 cups whole wheat flour)
3 T gluten
1 T + 1 t yeast

I fill the 1/3 c measuring cup about half full with oil, then coat the cup as I pour it out, then use that same measuring cup for the honey (so it comes out easily). Check dough after first kneading – should be moist and sticky. Add 1T water or flour if necessary.

Basic cycle, 1.5 lb. loaf, light crust (take it out 5-10 minutes early if you have the chance). I have a Sunbeam/Oster bread maker (which is the lowest end one you can buy).

Posts in the series -- Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Part 5 -- A Special Treat: Buttermilk White Bread

Questions?  Comments?  Grievances?  Leave a comment below.

Appliance Boxes - Free Summer Entertainment

What do you do with bored kids in the summer?

Give them boxes!  If you can, pick up huge cardboard boxes from Sears or other appliance sellers, and let your kids use them as tunnels, forts, etc.  Decorate them with crayons, markers, paint and cut out windows and doors.  My sister-in-law once picked up several fridge boxes and decorated them to look like a giant train for a birthday party. Take photos and then be sure to recycle your boxes once you are done with them.

This green and frugal activity reuses before recycling!

So the next time you are looking for a safe and eco-friendly toy for your child, check the recycling bin first!

More Upcycled Toy Ideas

How do you deal with bored kids in the summer?

This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday!  Follow the link to find more ideas to keep kids busy in the summer.


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