House, Recipe

A Responsible Sandwich

I’ve been meaning to share this for a few days now, but due to life getting in the way, I haven’t been able to take the time to make more of these sandwich buns and photograph the process. As I mentioned in my first post about responsibility, one of the changes we made was making some items at home, rather than buying. Here’s what went into that decision.

!. When attempting to work on our finances, we wanted to make some easy changes to our day to day lives. We looked at where money was going, and pin pointed areas where we could save. In this case, Pat was buying lunch Monday-Friday (usually at Subway, though occasionally at a local deli/sandwich shop). The average cost spent was 8$/day or about 160$/month, with no prep required.

2. I then tried a less labour intensive solution: Purchasing ready-made sandwich buns from the local store. The cost break down is this:

Buns: 1.99/sandwich

Meat: 1.70/sandwich

Condiments and other toppings: 0.35/sandwich

Total Sandwich cost for the month: About 81$ (about 50.6% of the Subway cost)

Prep Required: About a second or two more to my grocery shopping time, and about 5 minutes to make the sandwich.

As you can tell, there was a significant price difference here. We started on that route. We did, however, notice that the buns purchased were rarely available the day they were made (ie: they were already a day or two old when we bought them), and as a result, wouldn’t last the week, resulting in either a day of purchased lunch or dipping into other groceries for a different meal.

3. In an attempt to save a bit more money, force myself out of my comfort zone, try to make something that would last longer and to try something new, I decided to make my own buns. Here is the cost breakdown:

Buns: 0.74/sandwich

Meat: 1.70/sandwich

Condiments: 0.35/sandwich

Total Sandwich cost for the month: 56$ (35% of the original subway cost)

Prep Required: This is where there is a major difference. While the actual work involved was maybe only 10 minutes of actual effort, the buns took the better part of the day to make and require staying close to home.

So, is it worth it? Depends. When I have time – Absolutely. I found the process of making the bread extremely soothing. I felt proud that my efforts yielded such tasty results. Having said that, I will definitely rely on store-bought when we have a crazy week. On a personal level, I really love the challenge of getting back to the basics. Homemade bread, homemade sauces, etc… I feel better about what my family is eating when I know every single ingredient in each part of their meal – because I made it myself. As a bonus – There is nothing better in this world than a slice of bread, hot from the oven, smothered in butter and honey with a cup of tea. Seriously.

And now for the recipe itself. I found it here. It really is a perfect fit for the delicious po boy bread of New Orleans (squishy soft inside, thin crunchy crust). I won’t re-write it all, but rather share my experience with it (if you haven’t made bread before, please don’t be nervous! This is seriously my second time ever, and it wasn’t hard in the least.)

A Responsible Sandwich Bun

1. Following the recipe from The Galley Gourmet, mix your ingredients on low until bread pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add salt and then set to knead for 10 minutes on medium. (Note: I used a blend of white bread flour and multigrain bread flour)

bread5

2. Form a ball on a floured surface. Place in a greased bowl, cover with clingwrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise (about 1hr 1/2. I used this time to put the baby down for a nap, eat all of the left over Apple Crisp from the Farmer’s Market and watch some Weeds)

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3. Deflate the dough on a floured surface. Divide into as many “loaves” or buns as you would like (recipe recommends 6-8). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for 15 minutes

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4. Form rolls, place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with damp cloth, let sit for an hour.

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5. Bake for about 30 minutes at 375.

Let buns cool completely for tasty sandwich bread, or, dive right in like me and enjoy the hollow tasty (and cheap) goodness.

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Daily Life, family

Responsibility, Part 1

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about parenting lately. How raising a child is very much about raising yourself beyond your childhood. One of the things I struggle with is responsibility. I grew up with almost no responsibilities until suddenly, I was the primary caregiver for my terminally ill mother, a home owner, a fiance, a pet owner and an employee all at once. While the topic of responsibility is a huge one for me, I want to focus that topic into that of money for a second.

 

When I was a child, I had an allowance. Usually, allowances are a payment for chores done around the house. In my house, chores were few and even more rarely enforced. We were given money without having earned it. My mother and father weren’t great with money. My mother had a bit of a gambling problem, and my father liked to collect everything he was interested in to the absolute extreme. They had limited savings and kept up the appearance of being stable.

When I was a teenager, I stole from my father’s wallet to fund my anime obsession, and when caught, he increased my allowance so that I could afford it myself. When I threw myself into a substantial credit card debt in my 20s, my parents bailed me out without asking for any pay back. When my living arrangements didn’t work out, they always welcomed me back home. I never know how tight things were until after my mother died and I learned that she had borrowed against her life insurance policy simply to pay for her groceries and utilities.

They taught me I was loved. They lifted me up when I fell. They showed me I always had a home and could always count on them. They didn’t, however, show me how not to fall in the first place, or how to pick myself up. They didn’t tell me what to do when that home was no longer mine, or what to do when they were gone.

It may seem odd, talking about this. Especially because finances are one of the true taboos of our society, I think even more so than politics or religion in some ways. It’s important though.

Having a son and trying to figure out how to raise him has made me realize that so many parents miss an important step. They raise their chicks into birds and teach them to fly, but they don’t follow through. I want my chicks to not only fly, but to be able to feed and care for themselves and their own families.

When Pat and I decided that I wasn’t going to return to work full time after Liam was born, I was scared. I was scared about being able to afford our home and our life. I was scared about budgeting. Recently it occurs to me that Liam needs to see this. He needs to see and understand the struggle. He needs to understand its importance. I want him to see it, to participate in it and learn from it.

A few recent changes:

-Try to live more simply. I am guilty of shopping when sad, disappointed, etc… It’s a major lesson for me to only buy what we need and not what I want. We have so much stuff. Too much stuff. (Follow my efforts here)

-Eat healthier foods. In the long run, it’ll save us money and make us healthier. Instead of buying random veg at the grocery store, I joined a CSA and make more of our plates full of veggies instead of carbs and more expensive meats. I want Liam to try new foods and new flavours.

Our first CSA haul
Our first CSA haul

New meals this week included grilled summer squash and zucchini with haddock, grilled chicken breast with local steamed beans, local boiled potatoes and corn. Local salad greens with roasted local beets and heirloom tomatoes.

-Make more, buy less. Pat has been eating at subway and local sandwich shops every work day for lunch. You can imagine the cost of this. So, I suggested making subs. Well, the sub breads we were buying weren’t lasting the week and were expensive, so I decided to try making my own. It was a huge success! Not only was it cheaper, but it was a fun activity for me and gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.

Homemade bread dough rising
Homemade bread dough rising

I’m trying to make more of our meals so that we aren’t eating out as much. I hope to do a bunch of freezer meals for those lazy days that I inevitably encounter.

-Buy second hand when we can. Thankfully, I work at a consignment shop two nights a week so most of Liam’s clothes and cloth diapers are 2nd hand. He gets to dress super cute (which makes me happy), but it only costs me 1/3 of the retail price.

-Reevaluate our needs vs. wants and work within those as best we can. I may not NEED television, but I want it real bad. As a compromise, Pat and I dropped cable and now just have netflix. Our phone costs were high so now we just have our cellphones and VOIP. We love pizza, but can’t afford take out so we enjoy pita pizzas now. Instead of a daily starbucks, we got me a Keurig and some great kcups.

Anyway, I plan on writing a lot more on the subject, and sharing our bread recipe. My kid is chasing our dog with a plastic cup so I need to intervene :)