One of the staple foods for many people is grain. Most of our country is familiar with wheat and corn products, but there is a whole world of grain out there that are less allergenic, more frequently eaten, and even healthier and cheaper.
For health reasons, our family has gone through periods of gluten-free and grain-free eating. Right now, however, we are starting a homestead and this much more active lifestyle is necessitating some more filling (and cheap) grains.
So today I would like to go through a few of our family’s favorite grains, for health and for cost, but first a word on maximizing the use of this staple food. Our family has come to practice the soaking and fermenting of grains – a practice that makes them easier to digest and brings out the best in every grain.
We have been using this ancient form of wheat for about a month now for everything from Irish soda bread to biscuits to homemade cereal. I am not gluten intolerant, but find spelt easier to digest than regular hard or soft wheat due to the lower gluten-content. It is great in just about all baked goods where you might use wheat.
Cost: It is definitely more expensive than commercially grown wheat at $1.10/lb, but is a good option for those who might be slightly sensitive to wheat.
The good old oat comes in more forms than just rolled. We buy whole oat groats and crack them as needed for a steel-cut porridge or grind them for flour to make pancakes or other quick breads.
Cost: I have found them at just under $1/lb for a 25 lb bag.
This gluten-free grain-like seed is actually native to North America. The stronger toasted buckwheat has a fairly strong flavor in pancakes, but when ground from untoasted kernels it is more mild and an excellent choice for gluten-free baking.
Cost: I have found it priced at about $1.70/lb for a 25 pound bag of hulled organic buckwheat.
Millet is a very popular grain in much of the East, but is used predominantly for bird seed in this country. I am not entirely sure why, as we love this grain with its mild, nutty flavor. It cooks up to four times its size in water and when ground makes tasty biscuits. It also grows well in pour soil and harsh conditions, which is why we may be growing some in the near future, Lord willing.
Cost: This is similar in price to oats at just under $1/lb, but since it cooks up to a bit more it may be a more cost-effective option.
This is another grain-like seed that has been touted in recent years as a super-healthy grain. It is higher in protein than some grains and is gluten-free and somewhat nutrient-dense.
Cost: I have found it to be usually $3-$4/lb and for that reason we usually pass it up and buy some decent meat instead.
This popular grain is found in many forms, most predominantly as white, brown, and wild rice. It is another gluten-free grain that makes a great bed for all sorts of meat, vegetable, and bean dishes. It is filling and is good for those who struggle with allergies to other grains.
Cost: You can find white rice fairly cheap in bulk, as well as brown rice. Real wild rice, not the commercially cultivated stuff, will always cost you quite a bit of money, but if you knew how it was produced you would understand why.
So those are some of the grains we use most often for their nutrition and cost.
What grains are you cooking with these days?