Saturday, June 6, 2009

New York Bagels for 7¢

About a month ago, Lifehacker linked to an article about "groceries that are actually cheaper to make at home" food items: Bagels, jam, etc. As someone who asked for "Better than Store Bought" for my birthday one year, I was of course intrigued. So intrigued in fact, that I dropped hints to the resident baker (JC) at every conceivable opportunity. Last night JC said to me, "I was thinking about homemade bagels for tomorrow's breakfast. Are you interested?" Ummmm... okay!

So we rushed over to the A Home in the City Test Kitchen with the bagel recipe she'd found online. (The only variations were: a substitution of whole wheat for some of the white flour, 10 bagels instead of 8, and the use of a kitchen aid stand mixer instead of hand-kneading.)

Once the dough was made, she formed balls and let them rise. We used the "make a snake and wrap" method, but I think next time we might try the "punch a hole in the ball" method.

Then we boiled them (1 minute each side) and let them dry on a towel.

And then into the oven, then cooling racks, where they cast seductive glances at me for the entire cooling period.

Voila! While the first attempt lacks a little of the cosmetic finish you'd find at the corner bagel store, the taste was nearly spot-on.

So were our efforts frugal? Absolutely.

Recipe Cost (made 10 bagels) 2 cups white flour = $0.22 per recipe (from 25lb @ $8.88)
2 cups whole wheat flour = $0.44 per recipe (from 5lb @ $2.50)
1 T sugar = $0.01 (from 5lb @ $2.50)
1.5t salt = $0.01 (from 3lb @ $1.99)
2t yeast = $0.03 (from 2lb @ $5.00)

Total cost per recipe: $0.71
Total cost per bagel: $0.07 (electricity/labor/rent costs not factored)

To put this into perspective for us, our local bagel shop charges $0.85 per bagel for fairly decent bagels, before any toppings. The neighborhood's fanciest bagels (H&H) are a little too rich for our blood -- $1.30 a piece. For us, these ones we made at home are pretty spectacular, and gives us a more affordable way to enjoy this New York tradition more often.


FrugalNYC said...

Where did you buy a 2lb bag of yeast for $5? Instant yeast costs about $3 for 3 little packets for me. Wondering....

JC said...

Hi FrugalNYC!

When I started making my own bread last fall I wondered how anyone saved money doing it. Yeast was costing us $2.49 for the 3 packet strip at Fairway. A quick search on any 'frugal mom' sites led me to one conclusion: warehouse stores. Columbia'a parents live in LI and have several memberships. We went with them and found 2 1lb packs sold together for under $5**. I couldn't believe it. I bake with yeast 2 or 3 times a week and just finished both packs yesterday.

If you can get to a warehouse club, they do let you sign up for 1 day trial memberships. FreeFromBroke also wrote about a 60 Day free trial to BJ's that has to be activated by 7/6/09.

Amazon does sell bulk yeast, but not for free super saving shipping. It would still be cheaper than at the local grocery store, but not as cheap as the warehouse stores.

A really informative post might be to figure out where all of the warehouse stores are in the the metro area and then figure out if any of them are near a train line. If you'd like to jump on that, fell free - just give us a head up. I think it's going to be a lot of work and there's no need to duplicate those efforts.

**Sam's advertises the 2-1lb packs for $4.16. If you know a friend with a membership...

FrugalNYC said...

Hi JC. Thanks for the tips! I think I'll have to ask the next time I'm at BJs. great idea about the clubs around the NYC area, though not sure if I currently have time.

If someone does it, definitely let me know :)

Val said...

That's it. I'm coming over.