You remember that I don’t do extreme frugality very well; extreme frugality can ultimately be very wasteful, pointless and even unpleasant. I am a firm believer in being a frugal artist, however; this means that we decide whether something is a worthy saving or not by taking into account different factors, on the basis of broad concerns including quality of life and thinking about the long term.

Another thing that I didn’t do until about four years ago was cooking: you could see me in the kitchen only making coffee, a quick sandwich or pouring milk over a bowl of cereal. My culinary dexterity was limited to about three dishes that I cooked to perfection – long albeit irregular practice I suppose.

Then I was suddenly all about cooking; and I suppose having discovered that we are in quite a bit of debt really helped. I stopped seeing cooking as a waste of time and effort – after all hours of slaving at the stove didn’t last thirty minutes on the table – and saw it as a way to save and rationalise our spending.

From this to home baking was just a small step; and my good friend Elaine from Mortgage Free in Three who encouraged me all the way.

At the beginning was a bread-maker; now I make some of our bread by hand.

Why do I place bread making under the category of frugal artistry? Because making your own bread is:

  • Much cheaper; it depends on the type of bread, its quality and where you shop but making your own bread is between two and three times cheaper than buying it.
  • It is much healthier. Well, it is healthier to the extent to which bread is healthy at all. Then again we all love bread so the ‘relative matters’. Even bread sold in expensive shops contains at least twice more ingredients than it should; but more about this one later.
  • It is so therapeutic. Kneading dough feels great at the end of a day spent behind a key board or on my feet teaching. Increase the pressure a bit and imagine that you are ‘doing’ the person who annoyed you so much earlier. Sounds bizarre but it is so much cheaper than a shrink!
  • It is delicious. This doesn’t need much writing, really.
  • Taking the freshly made bread out of the oven and waiting for it to ‘breath’ for five minutes is heavenly. Why? Because this five minutes are the only time now that my almost teenage son looks at me with a mixture of adoration and plea.

Now time for an example.

Look at this white baps (buns) bought in the supermarket. Before I saw these shrivelled buns and tasted them, I couldn’t understand why Michael Douglas lost it in the movie Falling Down (you know, the movie where he got so mad at McDonalds that he started shooting and didn’t stop for sometime).


And these are the buns I made for the same occasion (well, the factory ones were for ‘just in case’). See the difference? One could taste it as well.

my baps

More importantly I have for you the ingredients of the ‘factory’ buns; these are:

Flour, Water, Rapeseed Oil, Salt, Sugar, Soya Flour, Palm Oil, Emulsifiers: Mono and Diacetyl, Tartaric Acid, Esters of Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Sodium, Lactylate, Flour Treatment Agents, Ascorbic Acid

Would it surprise you to hear that I don’t know what about half of these ingredients are; and what are these doing in bread that is being sold in the shop.

For the buns I made I used a recipe by Paul Hollywood and there are only five ingredients in them.

So, what do you think: frugality or folly?