Fighting Inflation – Making Bread as a Staple

You’ve heard me on here complaining about the high cost of just about everything these days, so I decided to look into making my own bread.  A friend loaned me a bread making machine and here’s how he advised me to use it:  first, his wife puts the ingredients in the bread machine and lets it do its thing.  After that she lets it sit so the bread can rise, but before the machine can bake it she pulls it out and puts it in the oven, otherwise it comes out very dense.

Everybody Loves Bread

He hasn’t bought store bread in a couple of years now and that got me thinking I’d like a piece of that action.  True, I get my bread at a day-old shop for $1 a loaf, but he thinks that it might even be a little cheaper this way, not to mention healthier.  Now, I wouldn’t quibble over a few cents and I suspect that in the long run it would about even out with the electricity used when making it, but it seems to make a lot of sense to have a large supply of ingredients on-hand to make your own bread if something happens.  Whereas I might have enough bread in my freezer for a couple of weeks if supplies suddenly get tight a big bag of flour or wheat and the other ingredients on-hand would probably supply my family for a few months.  We’re not big bread eaters in my family, but when I want to make a sandwich it’s nice to know the bread is going to be there.

I made my first loaf this weekend and I’m happy to say that it worked out pretty well.  The bread was dense, nutty, and quite flavorful.  The machine takes the ingredients and mixes them up amazingly well and then lets the dough sit inside where it rises.  At that point I followed my friend’s advice and pulled the dough out and cooked it in the oven.  Later my wife and I had hot bread with butter (one of my favorite things to eat since I was  a kid) and a few days later we still have about a half loaf still on the counter.

I know you can use many different ingredients when making bread and Chefbear wrote a post about that here.

My question to you is do you make your own bread?  If so how many weeks/months of supplies do you have laid in?  Do you do it by hand or do you use a machine?

All comments welcome.

-Jarhead Survivor

BTW:  Here’s the bread machine I’m looking at.  It’s a little pricey, but if you’re going to have something you’re going to use a lot it makes sense to get what you want.

35 comments… add one
  • The Harried Homemaker April 27, 2011, 8:30 am

    Yes, I make my own bread. Since I started storing food, I have become quite serious about making bread from wheat I grind myself. I have a Wondermill Junior Deluxe hand mill and also a NutriMill electric mill. I recently took the time to figure out just how much bread making ingredients I have on hand and I have enough for nearly 2 years worth of bread. If TSHTF, we’d probably eat more bread and basic stuff like that, so I guess we’d go through our supply a bit quicker.

    I don’t have a bread machine (though I have considered getting that Zojirushi you linked). I use my stand mixer to mix up and kneed the dough, which takes most of the real work out of it. The bread I make is so much better than the store-bought stuff that it is worth the extra effort. Actually, the recipe I make most often is super easy and my whole family loves the results:

    • Jarhead Survivor April 27, 2011, 7:53 pm

      Harried – the friend I reference in the post grinds his own wheat as well. This is still in the experimental stages for me, but so far I’ve enjoyed a nice thick piece of home made bread along with my eggs in the morning. I’m going to check out the video and give it a try. Thanks for the link.

  • gat31 April 27, 2011, 8:52 am

    I too was concerned about fresh bread post shtf so l started practicing making varied sizes of bread from a simple recipe l had gotten on line.
    Now we have a bread machine, but since it is my daughters, l’ve been FORBIDDEN to use it. lol So l made the bread in bowls and it turned out pretty well. One thing that concerned me was making bread without a pizza oven built outside in case of no power. I didn’t want flat bread or fried bread as my only options. So l took rabbit wire, fashioned a small box about 10 inch square, and covered it inside and out with aluminum foil. l made a top, also covered, and built a fire in my small outside grill. When l made bread l fashioned little mini loaves in small aluminum pans and when the fire was mostly coals and little flame put the mini pan in it and 20 minutes later had nice brown little loaves of fresh bread. My grandsons put jelly and butter on it and loved it. I have seen a simple recipe for pita bread, but have yet to try it. In my storage l had worried about things that had to be refrigerated so l went to sams and bought a case of indivdual jellies like you get at mc donalds. One of those works perfectly with those mini loaves. :) I can’t wait to read other comments to see what others have done.

    • Jarhead Survivor April 27, 2011, 7:54 pm

      That’s a very creative idea gat31!

  • Cindi April 27, 2011, 9:01 am

    I’ve been surprised that more “preppers” haven’t written about automatic bread machines; so I was pleasantly surprised to see your blog about them. I guess they are just so “nineties”? :)
    Anyway, as oart if my food storage prep, I had bought some “bread mix” packages intending to just use my oven for baking the bread. Then I got to thinking about it and was reading the back of the bread mix box – and well, I then decided to buy a bread machine. One of the best decisions I ever made. I love it!
    We haven’t had to buy a loaf of bread since its purchase! As for food storage with this item, I have many months worth of bread mixes (plain white plus other varieties) plus have calculated how much bread flour/etc. I would need for six months of bread (one loaf a week) and have those ingredient amounts stored.
    Since we’re folks who think there is nothing better than homemade bread and a good bowl of soup, the bread maker machine has been a great investment for us. One tip if you’re buying boxed bread mixes, it’s nice is the dry ingredients are in their own sealed bag separate from the yeast packet. I recommend opening the box and removing the yeast package and storing that in the refrigerator. Bread makers can also be run off of a generator easily. Which is also why my emergency preparations include some other similar useful items like a hot plate and small oven (check out the Hamilton Beach one).
    The bread machine loaves can be rather big. I use 2 gallon Ziploc bags to hold them. Sometimes we just cut the loaf in half crossways. Also, you can freeze slices. I highly recommend automatic bread machines! In fact I’m getting my daughter one and plan to purchase another one “just in case” for me.

    • Jarhead Survivor April 27, 2011, 7:56 pm

      Hi Cindi – thanks for the ideas about storing the yeast. I contacted my miracle-man Chefbear and he gave me some info about storing yeast. Maybe I’ll write up a little post about how to store the varous ingredients for long term storage.

      • ChefBear58 April 28, 2011, 1:11 am

        Makin’ me feel all “warm and fuzzy” with the “miracle man” comment! Anytime Jarhead, you just say the word and my skills/knowledge is at your disposal!

  • Presager Buddy April 27, 2011, 9:35 am

    I made bread for the first time when I was 10 years old when my grandmother taught me how to do it. Later, when I was about 16, I made bread on my own and it came out pretty good. For the past twenty years or so, I’ve made various types of bread a few dozen times very successfully. I probably have enough ingredients put aside for about 3 or 4 months and I have always done it by hand. In the past 10 years I have ground my own flour and I’ve added cornbread to the types of bread I make. My next goal is to bake my bread on my woodstove. If anyone has some suggestions on how to do that, I appreciate the input.

  • mainerinexile April 27, 2011, 10:04 am

    i’ve been using a breadmaker for a few years – i have a recipe for a beer based rye bread that my son loves – he can go through half a loaf by himself in a couple days (the alcohol is cooked off but the hops/grain adds to the flavor of the bread). I’ve also been experimenting with the sourdough recipes and home made starter. home-made bread is great stuff!

  • mainerinexile April 27, 2011, 10:12 am

    my breadmaker is a generic GE or something from Wal-Mart that cost less than $50 (excluding the government’s theft of my income, called a “sales tax”)…

    • Jarhead Survivor April 27, 2011, 8:12 pm

      Grrrr. There’s enough taxes on us already don’t you think?

      Anyway, I’m glad to see there’s a lot of people out there with the same idea!

  • Sarah April 27, 2011, 10:19 am

    I bake all of the bread for my family. French bread, sourdough english muffins, pizza dough and sandwich bread etc.

    Since I work a full time job in addition to my farm i found it easier to prepare all of the dough ahead of time. So every weekend I make up about 8-10 batches of various doughs and place them in the freezer in dinner portions. Then, the night before I need it I pull it out of the freezer and let it rise on the counter until I get home from work. Its perfectly ready to go by the evening, I shape it and bake it. We never run out of bread and its easy to prepare in big batches!


    • Jarhead Survivor April 27, 2011, 8:16 pm

      Wow! Sounds like you’re really squared away! I liked your blog too.

  • Judith April 27, 2011, 10:39 am

    I make mine by hand mostly in the winter time. Too hot in the summer unless I had to.
    I grind the wheat, add different things like oatmeal, raisins other grain mixtures . I especially like Anadama bread with the cornmeal and molasses.
    King Arthur flour has a lot of great flours and mixes if price isn’t an object. They make it real easy with all their different utensils and everything.
    I keep a lot of different grains in storage. Probably 2 years worth.

    • Jarhead Survivor April 27, 2011, 8:16 pm

      Do you use an electric grinder for that?

      • Judith April 27, 2011, 8:42 pm

        No, I have a Country Living Grinder and a Family living mill both from Pleasant Hill.

  • Anonymous April 27, 2011, 11:58 am

    we used to use an automatic bread maker too – but did not like the cooking portion either – those vertical, usually too dense loaves… eh…

    they are great at mixing and getting the dough ready for baking in the oven though, seems to do it near perfect every time (as long as your yeast is ok) – but the reliance on them to do the mixing etc is an issue should the power go out is the problem.

    that is the other question – what happens if TSHF for a longer period and those nice little foil packets of yeast go away – or if the frozen yeast in your freezer thaw etc (i guess they can freeze for up to 5 years)

    i’m not positive as i’m not an expert baker – but fresh bread and the smell of cooking bread is a wonderful thing… sure would be hard to go too long without that. i think in a collapse the baker would have the new form of currency.

    • ChefBear58 April 28, 2011, 1:07 am

      There are other leavening options which might fit the need for long term storage. I will explain a couple for you
      ACTIVE DRY YEAST- When purchased in a 1lb vacuum packed heavy foil paqckage, it has the potential to last for 5+ (possibly 10) years. The little packs will not hold up to the “test of time”. The best brands of the 1lb packages I have found are Fleischmann’s and Red Star. Store in a cool, dry area away from potential heat sources and direct sunlight.
      BAKING POWDER- All this tends to be is a combination of baking soda, and an acidic compound (usually cream of tartar). Much like the Active Dry Yeast, it has the potential to last for several years when stored right. If you store the two components separately in an oxygen free environment, like a vacuum sealed heavy foil package, it has the potential to last MUCH longer.
      BAKERS AMMONIA- This leavening agent is typically found in commercially made baked goods. It may be difficult to find, but is very stable and has a potential shelf life of decades, again under the proper storage conditions.
      Other leavening agents include-
      Eggs- Whole eggs work, but just the whites work even better. This is because the fat in the yolk will reduce the surface tension of any air bubbles formed by the albumen (protein in egg whites), resulting in less air being able to be trapped, which basically means it will not rise as much.
      Water- Steam is an excellent leavening agent, however, it requires particular method of preparation to work properly. The best example of water as a leavening agent is puff-pastry, the water/steam comes from the butter in the dough.

  • Anonymous April 27, 2011, 12:43 pm

    There are also some recipes for no-knead bread floating around the net. Might be a good option to using a bread machine. All you really need is a large pot and a hot oven.

  • Joanne April 27, 2011, 12:57 pm

    In a SHTF situation you may not have power so you really should learn to make it by hand – it’s very easy and can be a good work out.

    There are also no knead recipes out there as well.

  • Veridical Driver April 27, 2011, 1:00 pm

    It is so easy to make bread 100% by hand, I think you would be better trying the hand made version a few times before you lay down the money for a machine.

    Also, bread machines only make those standard square loaves… If you want to make baguettes, or foccocia, or bagels, etc., you are going to have to do it by hand.

    You would be better off buying a really fancy bread stone, or a very good cookbook, than spending your money on some more made-in-china crap that you don’t really need.

  • Jeff April 27, 2011, 1:32 pm

    When I began setting aside supplies (prepping) I knew that they would do me no good if I didn’t know how to use them.

    I began cooking alot, and now cooking is one of my favorite past times. (right behind eating.) I started baking bread a few months ago, but knowing that a bread machine won’t work in a post apocolyptic future, and not having a great deal of spare time, I have concentrated on flat, low knead breads. I make about 1 loaf a week, which is not nearly enough for our family but it tastes great and goes quickly. I also make tortillas, but still need a lot of practice.

    My long term goal is to learn to make regular bread by hand, but everyone I talk to, who has done this, says it’s a full day process. I would love to work in a bakery for about 6 months, but I doubt that will ever happen.

    • Judith April 27, 2011, 2:10 pm

      I don’t see it as being an all day affair. 30 mins to make.
      Raise 1 hr. the 1st time. Punch down and put in pans and let raise another hr. Bake 30 to 40 mins or so. Start early and it is done by 10AM.
      Plus there are plenty of recipes that you only raise one time which really cuts down on the time required.

  • jeff April 27, 2011, 1:36 pm

    This is the low knead bread recipe I started with. I use all sorts of diferrent things in it and on it though.

  • ChefBear58 April 27, 2011, 1:59 pm

    Home-made bread is one of my favorite things to eat. I don’t make it very often, but when I do I typically make a “straight dough” method French bread which can be formed into rolls, baguettes or any other shape you like. The recipe (technically it is called a formula because it is baking) is crazy simple, the only problem is that since it has very little preservatives (no fat, soy lecithin, etc.) it will only retain a good fresh flavor/texture for about 2 days. Even when it gets stale it can be used though, it makes an effective thickening agent for soup, you can add eggs, milk, sugar and create bread pudding, season&toast and use it for croutons, and that’s just a couple ideas off the top of my head!
    Here is my formula
    -3lb 10oz bread flour (high gluten)
    -1quart warm water (approx 115F)
    -1oz salt
    -1oz yeast
    -1/2oz sugar
    Combine yeast, sugar, and water. Allow yeast to “bloom” (becomes frothy and the mixture will stratify). Combine salt and yeast, add in bloomed yeast mixture. Kneed until all ingredients are combined and dough has a smooth surface, allow dough to rise in a stainless steel bowl until doubled in size, then gently press the dough down 1/2 way with an open hand. Allow to rise again, then form into desired shape, and allow to rise for 45min- 1hour. Bake at 425F, until you can tap on the bread and hear a hollow sound (internal temp of 190F)

    • ChefBear58 April 28, 2011, 12:46 am

      Sorry, I forgot to explain what the “straight dough” method is… Basically it means that you combine all the ingredients together (in stages) and then kneed, rise, punch, rise, form, bake.
      This method tends to be faster than other methods, however it will tend to lack some of the textural complexities of more intricate methods, like the sponge method.
      A “sponge” method, is where part of the dry ingredients are combined with all of the liquid ingredients and then allowed to sit. This creates a bubbly, light airy mixture which is then combined with the remainder of the dry ingredients. Then it’s the same as “straight dough”… kneed, rise, punch, rise, form, bake. The most common bread in the US that employs this method is sourdough. It tends to result in a lighter texture bread, because of the air which becomes incorporated during the fermentation (fancy term for yeast doing their thing) of the sponge. Other common “sponge” method breads include brioche, focaccia, champagneon, and boule

  • wilson April 27, 2011, 3:54 pm

    The local Goodwill usually has a few bread machines
    for $10 – $15.

  • Dude April 27, 2011, 6:21 pm

    I used the bread maker for a while (an older vertical one) and didn’t like the hole the mixer left in the bottom of the loaf. I looked at the newer ones that jarhead is looking at but it has two mixers. A friend told me to do the same as mentioned in the article. I now use the 20 year old maker and after the first rise take the dough out and punch it down let it rise in a bread pan and bake like normal. I have been experimenting with my wood stove with so-so results. The temp is too hard to control. I am building an outdoor brick smoker/oven/BBQ. That should work better.Winters are pretty cold in northern Ontario and the warm bread with cheese is a great cure-all. Good luck to all, don’t stop experimenting.

    • Jarhead Survivor April 27, 2011, 8:20 pm

      I was going to ask how many people experimented with a woodstove. Does your stove have an oven in it? My wife’s aunt has an old woodstove in her kitchen and it’s got an oven in it. It’s freakin’ huge and she only uses it for heat these days, but she can still fire that baby up even at 90 years old!

      • ChefBear58 April 28, 2011, 12:23 am

        Some wood-stoves which do not have a built in oven will still work. We have a Swedish made wood-stove insert in our living room, when you look at it there is a fairly small fire box, and a lot of room around the top and sides. After the chimney sweep came out and did his thing a last year, while the “cosmetic” parts were removed from the stove I noticed that there was a large gap on the top of the fire box. It’s big enough to fit a standard loaf pan, but if you were to fill the pan more than about 1/2 way with dough… it would be a mess to say the least! I did successfully bake Challah bread in there one time, just to prove the theory. If you need to bake bread and don’t have an oven on your wood-stove, there is always the option of wrapping the dough around a clean stick and bake over the fire/coals… We used to do this all the time when I was in Boy Scouts.

        Another option that I have been experimenting with, is to cook/bake using the heat from a vehicles engine. So far I have managed to make biscuits under the hood of my JEEP! I am going to try and make a venison en papillote (cooked in a “pouch” made of parchment paper) with veg of some kind, and I am going to try and make flat bread on the exhaust manifold (covered with tin-foil of course!)

  • CollegeMech April 28, 2011, 9:26 am

    Here’s how to make and grow yeast without a refrigerator–like they did it in the Dark Age. You take about two teaspoons of the dry yeast like you buy in the store (once you get it started, this is the only time you need the dry yeast). Mix the yeast together with ~2 cups of flour and ~2 cups of water. Next leave this mix in a jar with cheesecloth over the mouth to ferment for about a week in a warm, dark place.

    When you return to it, make sure it is just a light tan with a nice sourdough smell to it. If it is colored oddly or stinks, DITCH IT and wash your jar out well with a chlorine bleach. Light tan liquid on top is just beer, stir it back in and ignore it, as it will bake out of the bread.

    Every time you want to make bread, just add about two cups of this mixture in place of one cup of flour and one of water in the bread dough recipe. Then add one cup of flour and one cup of water back to the mixture in the jar to keep the level constant and feed the yeast. The yeast growing in the jar should last forever as long as you remember to feed it every couple days by removing two cups of material and adding a cup of flour and a cup of water back in. (This is only necessary if you have not made bread.)

    This should be good for when SHTF, because you can still enjoy nice rising bread. However, you need to start your yeast now, as I am not sure it can be done when dry yeast is no longer available.

    Good luck!


    P.S. I’m sorry to say, but this will only produce sourdough bread. So if you don’t like sourdough, I’m afraid you’re outta luck!

    • ChefBear58 April 29, 2011, 1:26 am

      There is a bakery in San Diego which still uses a yeast culture that was started in the early/mid 1800’s to make their sourdough bread. If it’s treated properly and maintained, it does have the potential to last a lifetime, or longer!

  • nailworx April 30, 2011, 3:42 am

    Suggestion- when baking bread in an oven or fire pit, use a terra cotta pan as we do here in Italy. Use a new terra cotta flower pot if necessary, however you must condition it 1st or else it cracks while cooking. Place any terra cotta pan or flower pot that you intend to use in boiling water overnight. We have an indoor pit in the kitchen as tradition calls for here, that looks a little like a fireplace and we cook in there. I suggest everyone learn to use the old methods, because when the grid goes down, there is nothing tastier than lasagne or bread baked in a fireplace.

  • Josh April 30, 2011, 1:57 pm

    Yes, we make our own bread for the most part, and we do it by hand in the oven. Our supplies regarding baking are probably a bit lacking. Flour is not something that we have ever bought in bulk, the same goes for wheat berries. We buy yeast in gallon tubs that hold about five pounds of yeast, the same goes for baking powder/soda. Our favorite bread pan is by far stoneware. But, the cost of stoneware pans is prohibitive so we normally just use steel cookie sheets or Pyrex loaf pans. It is great that you are getting in to making bread, it is a craft dissapearing almost as fast as sowing your own clothes or reloading your spent ammunition.

  • Mungo May 1, 2011, 3:51 pm

    Pretty sure you all need to know how to make bread without the comfort of an electric bread maker. Or am the only paranoid one in the buch who thinks electricity will be a scarce commodity for a few years?


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