Last Saturday as I was doing my monthly shopping at Sams Club, I found myself standing before the pallet of Bisquick Mix bemoaning how expensive it was, relative to the price of flour. I’m one of those obnoxious shoppers with the fistful of coupons that store managers have nightmares about. Of course, Sams Club doesn’t accept coupons, so I try to make sure I’m truly getting the best deal when I shop there, so I always have my calculator in hand as I shop. The Bisquick mix was about $7.69 for a 60 oz box. Pushing buttons quickly, I saw that it works out to $2.05 per lb. My local grocery store, Albertsons, sells their store brand all purpose flour for $ .99 per 5 lb bag on sale (it’s on sale almost all the time!). Although the flour is cheaper, I love the convenience of being able to churn out a quick batch of biscuits or pancakes on a Saturday morning,, so I sighed and put the baking mix in my cart among the other bulk size packages and continued to the end of the isle.
As I was on my way to checkout, I passed the frozen food section, and a food demonstrator (don’t you just love tasting all the great samples at Sam’s Club or Costo?) was demonstrating a new product: Pillsbury Frozen Ready-to-Bake biscuits. She was baking them in a toaster oven and offered me a piece. Not bad, for a frozen biscuit. I’ve never really liked those refrigerated biscuits, but this one tasted almost homemade. In fact, it gave me an idea. They were selling those biscuits for about $4.00 a bag, with about 24 biscuits in each bag. Whipping out my trusty calculator, I figured them to be about $ .20 per biscuit. “I could make those myself and freeze them in zip-lock bags.” I mumbled to myself. A fellow-shopper heard me and commented, “Did you know you could make your own baking mix, too?” and she pointed at the box of Bisquick in my cart. “I got my recipe off the ‘net!” “You know,” I replied, “that’s not a bad idea.” I smiled my thanks, turned my cart around and went back to the baking isle. I returned the Bisquick to it’s place picked up a big can of Crisco Shortning and paid for my purchases. I was a woman on a mission!
Next, I stopped at Albertsons and bought 5 5# bags flour (because they were on sale, they were actually cheaper by the 5# bag than buying the 20# bag!) and a can of powdered buttermilk. The rest of the ingredients I knew I already had at home. Goodness knows I’ve made enough scratch biscuits to know by heart how to make them! The powdered buttermilk is a real godsend so I can mix it right into the mix and I don’t have to keep a carton of the sickening stuff around to sour in my fridge. I love buttermilk in my cooking, but absolutely cannot tolerate it in it’s liquid form! My husband prefers my “from scratch” biscuits to those made by Bisquick, so when I have time, I make the scratch biscuits for him, but it’s a lot of work and a big mess to clean up afterward. I was really excited about the idea of making my own homemade mix and being able to make my husband scratch biscuits at a moment’s notice with a minimum of work or mess!
I waited for a day I wasn’t working (I work as a sub teacher), then tied on my apron and got busy. I started by pulling out all the needed ingredients and measuring utensils and arranging them on the counter. Flour, buttermilk powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and my big can of Criscoshortening. Then I pulled out my Cuisinart and started to measure 4 cups of flour into the work bowl. I realized quickly that after I added the 3/4 cup of buttermilk powder and the 1 cup + 2 tbs . Crisco, there wouldn’t be room for it to mix. So I pulled out the BIG GUN. My Kitchenaid Professional 6 Fire Engine Red Commercial Mixer, my pride and joy. It has a 6 qt bowl and a POWERFUL MOTOR that could mix cement! Using the whisk attachment, it easily mixed the dry ingredients and cut in the Crisco like it was nothing but air. In less time that it takes to say “buttermilk biscuits!” I had a big bowlful (about 7 cups) of beautiful homemade biscuit/pancake mix that looked even better than the store-bought stuff.
I put my mix in the gallon glass canister I keep on my counter, and also filled a large Folgers coffee can with the stuff, too. (Those plastic Folgers coffee cans are great for storing stuff like flour, rice, beans, etc.) I made 4 batches, so that means about 28 cups of homemade baking mix. I didn’t weigh the stuff, but I estimate by how much fits in my cannister and the coffee can that I made about 2 1/2 times the amount in the large, 60 oz. warehouse size box of Bisquick that sells for $7.69. Doing the math, that means if I were to buy that much at Sam’s Club, I would have spent (2.5 X $7.69 =) $19.22! Now, the cost of the ingredients to make my homemade mix were: flour: $ .99; buttermilk mix: $3.69; Crisco: about $ .75 worth (from the big can); and let’s say about $ .50 worth for the baking powder, baking soda and salt. So, the total for the entire batch of homemade mix was: $5.93. So, I saved $13.29 by making it myself, plus, my mix has no MSG or other additives and artificial flavors, etc. and has that wonderful homemade taste and texture because it IS homemade – by ME!
I’m not done, though. I used 4 cups of the mix to make two big batches of biscuit dough and rolled out and cut up 70 biscuits. I then placed the biscuits on two cookie pans and put them in the freezer until they were frozen hard. Then I put them in 3 zip-lock bags. Now I have frozen ready-to-bake biscuits just like the ones in Sam’s Club! Only, mine cost me nothing more that what I had already paid for the ingredients for the homemade mix. Now at $ .20 per biscuit, those biscuits would have cost me So by MAKING IT MYSELF, I saved $14.00. So far, I’ve saved a total of $25.29. Not a bad morning’s work.
I can already hear all those working mothers out there tsk – tsking and ho- ho-ing . Who has all that time to be mixing and measuring and stuff in the kitchen? Well, from start to finish, I was only in the kitchen 1 1/2 hours. Clean-up took another 15 minutes. So for a time investment of less than 2 hours, I saved over $25.00, and I won’t have to make more mix or frozen biscuits for at least two months (there are three of us in my family, your mileage will vary). I work part-time as a substitute teacher. I never know from one day to the next when I’ll be working. So, like busy working mothers everywhere, the convenience of using ready-made mixes and frozen entrees is not lost on me. But who wouldn’t rather serve her family HOMEMADE meals, if she could? I tried out a biscuit on my husband, and he declared there was no difference between the one made from my homemade mix and one made from scratch!
This Saturday, like almost every Saturday, I will be making pancakes and/or waffles for breakfast using baking mix, only this time I will be using my homemade mix. As usual, I will be making about 3 dozen extra pancakes or 2 dozen extra waffles to put in the freezer. I know that Eggo Waffles are cheap, the store brands cost about $ .99 for 1/2 dozen round little waffles you pop in the toaster. Yuck. And they taste like they cost that little, too. Like toasted cardboard. There’s no comparison between those frozen pieces of wood and a light, fluffy, home-cooked pancake hot off the griddle, or waffle fresh from the waffle maker. I just freeze my homemade pancakes and waffles in single meal packages along with a couple of pre- cooked sausages or pieces of bacon and voila ‘! Breakfast is served. Now for the math. I will make 2 dozen waffles, so that’s about $1.50 per 1/2 dozen box for the good frozen ones in the store: 4 X $1.50 = $6.00. I will also be making about 3 dozen pancakes. Goodquality Frozen pancakes at the store cost about the same price per 1/2 dozen, but usually come in boxes of 12. So, three boxes would cost: 3 X $3.00 = $9.00. So I save $15.00 total ($9.00 + $6.00) by MAKING IT MYSELF.
I can still hear some die hard hecklers in the back twittering that they don’t have time to spend all day in the kitchen slaving over a hot griddle making tons of pancakes and waffles. Well, it only takes about 20 minutes more to make the extra pancakes if you’re already making them anyway. And think of the time you’re saving since you aren’t “slaving in the kitchen” making them for the next two weeks or so! My batch of pancakes and waffles usually last our little family about a month, but again, your mileage will vary, depending on the size and appetites of your family.
I should mention, that it helps to have a separate freezer to store frozen food in quantity. But you can at least make a double batch and store 1 batch for another breakfast (one you won’t have to cook!). Just think of being able to lounge around in your bathrobe on a lazy Saturday morning, or soak up to your chin in bubbles in a hot bath tub, all while your family is enjoying an old-fashioned, homemade breakfast of pancakes and sausage and/or bacon! A guilt-free morning to yourself! And while you bask in the warmth of your bathwater and your family’s gratitude, you can plan how you are going to spend the extra money you saved by MAKING IT YOURSELF. Let me recap how much I’ve saved so far by making my own baking mix, frozenbiscuits, pancakes and waffles:
Bisquick Baking Mix: $7.69 X 2.5 boxes = $19.22
Store-bought frozen biscuits: .20 X 70 pieces= 14.00
Store-bought waffles: $1.50 X 4 boxes = 6.00
Store-bought pancakes: 3.00 X 3 boxes = 9.00
TOTAL IN-STORE COST: $48.22
Homemade Baking Mix: $5.93
Homemade frozen biscuits: 0
Homemade waffles: 0
Homemade pancakes 0
TOTAL HOMEMADE COST: $5.93
$48.22 – $5.93 = $42.29 TOTAL SAVINGS!
I’ve since made biscuits and waffles with my homemade mix, and they’ve been a real hit with my family. In fact, they tell me they prefer my homemade mix to the store-bought variety! I didn’t even mention the money I saved from out food budget, I’ll just keep that little secret to myself.
Wow! I think I’ll head out to the mall!
Baking Mix Recipe*:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons baking powder 3/4 cup instant nonfat milk powder or dry buttermilk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 cup vegetable shortening PLUS 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
***Light and Tender Biscuits***
1 1/2 cup QUICK MIX
1/3 cup milk or water
(* Recipe courtesy of CDKitchen http://www.cdkitchen.com)