One of the biggest realizations for me came when I actually started keeping track of how much money I spent every month on eating out. To set the record straight, YOU CANNOT EAT OUT AND SAVE MONEY. There. It’s simple. If you want to start saving money and actually begin to invest it, you need to learn to cook for yourself.

And cooking for yourself is not really all that difficult. In fact, the actual cooking part should be the easiest factor; the hardest factor, for me at least, is getting up the motivation to actually do it day-in and day-out. To make a meal for yourself every day 3 times a day is one of the joys of life but also one of the more challenging habits to form. But it can save you a boatload of money.

For example, during the month of December, I spent nearly $700 on eating out! This included some drinks at a few bars too (which deserves its own article altogether). This is INSANE. That was more than my monthly budget after all the necessities. I was losing money every month with a habit like that. My net worth, looking back now, was dipping lower and lower every month.

So, by only cutting out food away from home, I am already well on my way to Financial Independence! And you can be too. It is actually a lot of fun learning and training yourself to cook at home. You get more quality time with your family (or your amazing wife, in my case). You get to learn some new skills. You get higher quality food. And you save SO much money!

One of the best ways, I think, to begin to eat at home, is to bake your own Sourdough Bread. It is amazingly easy. I’ll show you how I do it right now. 

An awesome bowl isn’t completely necessary. Just cool.

Step One: Get your starter going. This sounds tricky and gross, but it’s super simple. All you do is get a little plastic container or glass jug. Put some flour in it and some water. It helps to then touch some random fruit (to get the naturally occurring wild yeasts on your hands), then mix it together with your fingers. Put the lid on and let it sit for a day. Everyday after this you’ll need to add a couple tablespoons of flour and a bit of water and stir again (you can use an utensil after that first mix). After 4-5 days you’ll have an amazing, gurgling and bubbling starter!

Poor that starter. It can be runny (wet) or more doughy. Up to you.

Step Two: Put some (not all) of your starter in a big bowl. Add some more flour, then some water, then about a teaspoon of salt too. Mix that shit up! Once it becomes tacky instead of sticky (you may need to play with the amount of flour. I usually start with a bit too much water and slowly add more and more flour as I go) you can take it out and start kneading it. Knead it with your hands (get in there!) for 8-10 minutes. Then spray oil the bowl and put the dough back in there. Cover it and let it RISE (just like your financial life!) until it has doubled in size. Sometimes about 3-5 hours.

You don’t need too much. A little goes a long way.

Step Three: De-Gas the dough. Take it out, and gently knead it again, trying to shape it into the final shape that you want to bake it in. Do this with as little kneading as possible. Once it is in that shape, put it on a sheet dusted with corn meal, for its final rise for 45 minutes.

Ready to bake. Cut a couple slices in the top for it to expand.

Step Four: Bake it! Preheat the oven to 450 (real hot), use a stone if you have one, and then put the dough in for 20 minutes. Turn it around and bake for another 10-20 until dark golden brown. Your whole house will smell fantastic. Take the bread out and let it crackle and pop while you let it cool for 15 minutes.

BOOM! Sourdough rocks!

Step Five: BOOM! You have amazing sourdough bread. Your house smells great, your stomach is happy, and your wallet is heavy.

This is one of the many ways you can begin living for yourself. You can bake your own bread and save close to $4 every time if you do it right. Sure you can get cheaper bread at the store (maybe only $2), but that bread is shit. It is terrible. Even the fancy bread will be a day old by the time you get it. YOUR bread will rock your world. Plus you have the knowledge that you made it yourself with your own two hands. You are way bad ass now. One step closer to becoming FIT.

Pro Tips:

  1. Get your flour at Costco. That sack right there is 25 lbs!  And it was less that $5. You can get so many loaves from what you would otherwise pay for one.
  2. You can use your starter to make sourdough anything. I usually make Pizza dough and Cinnamon Rolls with it. They come out amazing.
  3. This “recipe” is really laid back. I think baking and cooking can afford some more casualness than many cookbooks suggest. However, if you want to really get in to baking bread, you need to get one specific book: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  This book is so detailed and brilliant. If you read this cover to cover, you’ll be a pro in no time. (This is not an ad for that book. I won’t get any money from you clicking on it. I just really love that book.)

3 thoughts on “Step One: Cook for Yourself

  1. Thanks so much for this lesson in bread baking! I have always been intimidated by bread but this makes it look so easy–you don’t even need a recipe! I’d love to make my own bread every week, it seems so homey.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Allie J! Yeah, bread is super easy. Even if it doesn’t quite rise as much as you’d hoped, it is usually still way tasty!

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