Grain Mills Pt. 1: Should You Buy One? Does it Save Money?

I’ve been grinding my own flour for about four years now and I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!! I can’t say enough good about freshly ground whole grain flour. The taste is NOTHING like store bought whole wheat flour. The freshness is unbeatable.   Because it is fresh, the nutritional value is much higher. I love my grain mill!

If you do a lot of baking and you want to bake with whole grains…I very much recommend saving up for a grain mill. (I sold baked goods at our farmer’s market one year to pay for mine!)

Here’s the investment payoff I calculated:

I have a Nutrimill, which cost me about $250…

I buy organic hard white wheat berries, 50 pounds for about $33.00, which lasts me about two months. I make all of our bread, tortillas, muffins, rolls, pretzels, crackers, cookies, cakes…everything that requires flour.

If I were to go to the store and buy the amount of bread and tortillas our family of six needs in two months, my rough calculating tells me that I would spend about $56.00. JUST ON BREAD AND TORTILLAS. That doesn’t include all the muffins and other grain products I make with my $33.00 bag of grain in two months.

AND…the products I bake are a bajillion (scientifically proven  :) ) times healthier than what I can buy at the store.

Looking at those figures…it would seem that my grain mill paid for itself in about 10 months…although it’s really much less than that because again, my figures only included the cost of bread and tortillas and I get MANY MORE baked goods out of my bag of grain than just those (plus I was being conservative in my calculations).

So, I would say my grain mill paid for itself in about six months…and the savings just keep on keeping on! In fact, while I had my calculator out I figured out that I’ve saved approximately $552 in four years by grinding my own flour and baking whole grain food from scratch for my family. THAT was exciting to calculate!

There now. Would you like me to write a letter to your husbands, convincing them to buy you a grain mill for Christmas?  I’d do it. :)

This post begins a short little series on Grain Mills and grinding and baking with whole grain flour. Coming up I’ll share about:

  • Different kinds of grain mills, which ones I recommend and where to purchase them
  • Where to buy grain and what kind to buy
  • Tips on baking with whole grains

Comments

  1. says

    Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’m asking for one for Christmas. The math works out. However… I need a source for wheat berries, but it looks like you’re going to discuss that in an up and coming article. I look forward to this series. :-)

    [Reply]

    Camille Reply:

    Candy — I just saw a 14lb bag of wheat berries at Wal-Mart last night! I was shocked to see it and I’m positive it’s new (I’m on the West Coast). Also, you can check Azure Standard to as they sell them as well.

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  2. says

    My husband and I were JUST starting a conversation about getting a grain mill because I use SO MUCH FLOUR! :-) If you get to it (or if anyone has an opinion), I’d love to hear if it is worth the extra money to get a VitaMix instead of a mill….!

    [Reply]

    Carra Reply:

    I was thinking the same thing. If we could have a juicer and grain mill in one… I hope she has some experience with both.

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I found a VitaMix for $5 at a yard sale a couple of years ago and love it! However, I have to say that it does not grind wheat as well as my mill. It is very course, takes longer, and does not hold as much in the canister. So personally, I would not recommend it for milling wheat. However, it is great for smoothies and whatnot. Just my two cents ;)

    [Reply]

    Camille Reply:

    $5!!! WOW!! Now that’s a find!

    I do know the VitaMix has a special blade that is sold separately for grinding wheat so maybe that’s why yours doesn’t do well with the wheat…??

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    There are actually two separate canisters…one for wet and one for dry…I got them both for the $5 ;)

  3. says

    I soooo want a grain mill. Hmmmm maybe some sort of general letter would be nice to have on hand when I begin my speel (sp?) about getting a grain mill.

    [Reply]

  4. says

    I’m so excited that you’re posting on this–I have a few friends who grind their own wheat and I’ve just begun baking my own breads a ton more in the past year or so w/ store bought wheat. I can’t wait to hear more. :)

    [Reply]

  5. says

    Oh yes, please share. These are many questions of the questions I have had. Thank you for the blessing of your blog and the investment you put into it.

    [Reply]

  6. says

    Yup, I could use a letter. Especially since I could GET MY GRAIN RIGHT FROM OUR FIELDS. Sigh. We also saw a bag of wheat in Wal-Mart (here in Nebraska) and I was chatting with Hubs about wondering if there’d be a market for it if we were to grow and sell such a thing. What do you think, Laura? If you could get it at your farmer’s market, would you spring for it? I’m guessing it has to be organic, though.

    [Reply]

    randombitsofknowledge Reply:

    I wouldn’t worry about ORAGNIC with wheat berries myself… Just Chemical Free… Wheat berrie crops are pretty CLEAN (you know, you grow it!)

    [Reply]

  7. says

    I so wish that I could get a grain mill! I am so limited on space though. Someday, someday, someday!!

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    If you’re limited on space, the Nutrimill is definitely a better option than some of the other mills as the mill and canister go together more like a coffee maker as opposed to the others which are side-by-side. ;)

    [Reply]

  8. says

    Very interested in doing this. Thanks for posting this series. I love blogging and all the things you can learn…. I would never know of such things and keep happily buying the only thing I know.

    [Reply]

  9. says

    I am REALLY interested in that. I am trying to start making all of our bread, and we are trying to eat a lot healthier!
    My two dilemmas are that 1, we are pretty limited on space, and 2, it’s just my hubby & I. Not sure if that would really be worth it yet…

    [Reply]

  10. says

    Spooky, we both have grain on the brain… this was what my post yesterday was about! I love my Nutrimill and all that it does to help keep my family healthy.

    [Reply]

  11. says

    I agree! It is nice. I waited around until I found one used, and bought it for $100 inc shipping I think. Now that one’s konking out I think, and I’m really thinking about a vitamix just because I have a gluten-free child and I can’t do GF flour in a wheat grinder because I can’t get all the flour out.

    I find wheat berries a bazillion times easier to store than flour too! In 5 gallon pails. I get mine from Wheat Montana.

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I have a gluten free friend and have used the Vita-mix to grind gluten-free grains since I can wash it out between uses. However, as I stated above, it does not grind the wheat as finely and occasionally, I will have a little bit of rice or something in a cake (which is a little weird). Anyway, just something to consider. The Vita-mix is a great tool to have around for a lot of things…I don’t prefer it for grinding grains, however, with a gf child, I’m not sure what your other options would be unless you kept your mill entirely gf…and then you still wouldn’t be able to do things like rice. :/ It would probably be your best bet in that situation.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    with the Nutrimill it is self cleaning. I usually run some rice through though, just to make sure it’s clean before I do things for my GF MIL. I love mine!

    [Reply]

  12. Kathy Shaner says

    Boy,it must be the year for grain mills. We’ve been talking about getting one too. I’ve borrowed a friend’s mill and… haven’t managed to get it back to her yet! Thankfully, she’s not worried about it. So it gives me time to play a little.

    We’re a small household and don’t bake nearly as much as if we had kids. But I’ve been comparing prices and still think we’d benefit from the savings. Plus, I read more and more about fresh flour compared to store-bought flour. Big difference!

    Does anybody know where I can find information on how long grain lasts? We’d buy big bags and store it, but I want to make sure it’ll stay fresh until we use it (which might be a long time). I’d appreciate input!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    It will last for YEARS! I’ll try to include info on that in my series.

    [Reply]

    randombitsofknowledge Reply:

    I agree… YEARS!!!! I keep mine in the bag it comes in a cool dark place, and when I open the 50 lb bag, I put it into 2 5gallon pails… store in my pantry on the floor!

    [Reply]

  13. says

    I am interested in learning more about this whole subject. I have seen on a couple other blogs I follow that they grind their own flour as well. We are a family of 6 as well and I tend to do more baking and I have the desire to start making my own bread, tortillas, from scratch as well. So I am THRILLED you are going to educate us (especially me) on the subject…..I am excited to see all the info you have to share!
    BLESSINGS!!

    [Reply]

    randombitsofknowledge Reply:

    GO FOR IT Danielle! I am also a family of 6 and I use it almost daily and also my kitchen Aid Mixer! I make EVERYTHING pretty much from scratch! It is so yummy and you can’t even tell you are eating WHOLE WHEAT!

    [Reply]

  14. says

    My hubby was so sweet about this. You see, my mom has a set limit for what she spends on each person for Christmas. We couldn’t afford one and the cost was over what mom allots each of us, so he had her combine what she would spend for the both of us in order for me to get the grain mill. See, I told you he was sweet. I have loved having it. My favorite grain to use for bread is Kamut. More expensive, but delicious. I often mix it with hard white wheat to cut down on the cost.

    [Reply]

  15. says

    Have you ever done a comparison to figure out whether milled wheat is cheaper than just buying plain white flour? I always made everything from scratch before we got out mill. Now that I use better ingredients (olive oil instead of vegetable, honey & sucanat instead of refined white sugar, Real Salt vs iodized, etc.), I am sure that it costs me more to make things from scratch than it used to. I don’t crunch the numbers because I am convinced that it is what is best for our family, however, I am curious.

    I really enjoyed Sue Becker’s article, “Do Not Eat the Bread of Idleness” when I was learning about this subject – http://www.breadbeckers.com/bread_of_idleness.htm

    [Reply]

    Lara Reply:

    That’s a great article! It’s what motivated me to start researching grain mills in the first place. My only concern is how much time it will take to grind everything and make everything from scratch (since in the past I haven’t).

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Lara,

    Grinding the wheat takes no time at all in an electric mill, so you’re not going to find that eating up a lot of time. I think it really depends on what you are currently accustomed to doing. For example, are you currently pulling frozen pancakes and things out of the freezer or are you making them from a prepared mix? If you’re making them from a pancake mix, I don’t think that you’ll find it taking you a whole lot longer to make from scratch. I’ve learned that it takes about 15 minutes to make a Cream of Soup (i.e. mushroom) as opposed to opening the can (seconds), however, the savings is well worth it…I can make my own cream of soup for a fraction of the cost. Same goes for the other prepared things…not to mention the health benefits. I think you do have to evaluate, however, what season of life you are in. A working Mom may not have time to make everything from scratch but could start small. So anyway, it all depends on what you’re trying to do. Baby steps ;) Did I mention the superior taste??? :P Happy learning!

    [Reply]

  16. Lori says

    Elizabeth, I had the same questions you did regarding cost comparisons of higher quality ingredients vs. store bought baked goodsor lower quality white flour bought on sale. Then I did some comparison shopping of breads made with higher cost ingredients from the grocery store. A loaf of whole grain bread from the grocery store is over $3.00 in my area. I can still make my oatmeal honey wheat bread for less and the grain is ground just before using. You are still saving money AND you are feeding your family a nutritionally superior product.

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Yes, it is definitely cheaper than buying the higher priced breads at the store, but before I started with the mill, we just purchased the white fluff for less than $1 a loaf (and those loaves are longer than the others). I wouldn’t trade the freshly milled. You can’t really compare apples to apples on this one though as the freshly milled is so much better. To me, it’s worth it even if it does cost more than $1 per loaf…not that I’ve done the math on that…it may not, but I think it probably does.

    [Reply]

  17. Katie says

    I have a nutrimill, I really like it a lot, but have not had any experience with any other mill.
    I was wondering if anyone knew of a way to make a soaked tortilla recipe? And could you also talk about the tortilla press you use sometime!
    Thanks
    Love your blog!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    if you use the Nourishing Traditions recipe for Buckwheat Crepes, just substituting either corn or wheat for the buckwheat, it makes great tortillas :-)!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    My Totally Tortillas ebook includes a method for soaking the tortillas. SO YUMMY!

    http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=10

    [Reply]

  18. says

    Thank you for this post. I have been considering purchasing a grain mill for a long time but needed a recommendation. I look forward to the rest of the series!

    [Reply]

  19. says

    I’m so excited about this series of posts. I’ve been talking about a grain mill for months now and I’m pretty sure my husband will be buying me one for Christmas. I’m getting ready to go ahead and order some wheat berries (not a huge amount) to sprout them and use them in things while I’m waiting for my mill to grind them.

    I’m super excited about this topic. Thanks for posting!

    [Reply]

  20. says

    I have a stone grinder that fits on my Bosch mixer. I LOVE it! It’s nice to have it all in one appliance and the wheat is ground right into the mixing bowl, so it’s easy to throw in the other ingredients and make bread.

    [Reply]

  21. Erin H. says

    I have been interested in having a grain mill but I don’t know if I will use it enough yet. I still rely too much on convenience and forsake nutrition. I’m working on it though and have a desire to change. Thats the first step, right?

    Do you grind just enough for that one item you’re making or a day’s worth of baking or do you grind one time a week?

    [Reply]

    randombitsofknowledge Reply:

    I know I grind enough for what I am doing… (because I figured out the DUMB math… LOL) But I sometimes grind more so I don’t have to grind it later… and just throw it in a gallon baggie in the freezer! I do ALWAYS Frest ground my flour/berries for making bread though! Seems to rise and work better!

    [Reply]

    Brianna @ Heart(h) Management Reply:

    I’ve done some of both. I try to grind fresh and throw the extra in the freezer. Freshly ground flour has the MOST nutrition in it. If you go to http://www.breadbeckers.com you can find some pretty cool info on the benefits of freshly ground flour. Most of the nutrients in it oxidize in 24 hours if left at room temp. In the freezer it’s slower, of course, but it still happens.

    [Reply]

  22. Angie says

    Does anyone have experience with a hand crank? I’d like to have a mill with that option–just in the case of power outages, not for regular usage! :-)

    [Reply]

    Brianna @ Heart(h) Management Reply:

    Weeelllll….

    If you had no power, how would you be baking? Pancakes on a Coleman stove, perhaps? LOL. I know some people who live “off the grid” use a hand cranked grinder. I’ve heard that they are slow and usually grind more coarsely.

    [Reply]

  23. says

    LOL, I am a HUGE numbers person… I Just love to figure out HOW MUCH THINGS COST!!!!!!
    So here are my figures for FLOUR at my house with my GRAIN MILL….
    I pay $27.50 for 50 lbs of Hard White Wheat berries….
    1 lb = 2 1/2 C. BERRIES
    2 1/2 C. Berries = 4.5 C Flour when Ground FINE
    I pay .55 a Pound so $.12 a CUP of flour…
    When I used to buy it *Kind Arthur kind* I paid $.23 a Cup… ALMOST DOUBLE… for GOOD flour… CHEAP NASTY FLOUR WOULD BE LESS!…
    I had to figure out if I still bought flour OR paying for the berries… the DIFFERENCE in the end would take just about 1.5 yrs to pay off the grain mill… NOT BAD since my mixer cost more than the grain mill… BUT I used that almost everyday too!!!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    Thanks for doing the exact calculations… my brain does not like doing the details but likes knowing the details!!! Thank you!!
    Heather

    [Reply]

  24. says

    I have both a Vitamix and a Nutrimill. While I don’t have the dry blade for grinding grains, I’m still pretty sure I would much rather have the Nutrimill. I use my mill a LOT and I think it would be a pain to grind all my flour in the Vitamix. But if you can only choose one and you don’t mind grinding in smaller batches, I think it would be fine. Just keep in mind that you’ll have the extra cost of the other blade/canister. :)

    [Reply]

  25. Becki says

    I LOVE my grain mill. And it was free! My mom had one she passed down to me. It is loud and messy, but still….can’t beat free. I too love fresh wheat and love that I can find organic wheat berries for so cheap (thanks for the Azure Standard tip). Looking forward to reading more on this topic.

    [Reply]

  26. Janet says

    I love our grain mill too! We bought ours two years ago, and it paid for itself in about the same time yours did. We make everything with whole wheat flour, and it is delicious! My extended family requests that I bring bread to every family event.

    [Reply]

  27. says

    I really love milling grain. Right now I’m using a hand me down from my mom but would like sometime to get it back to her (before I break it hopefully)! The one I have includes a stainless steel canister and mills using a ceramic wheel not blades. I will be interested to read about your recommendations.

    Since we have to eat gluten free I use it to mill brown rice, occasionally white rice and teff.

    [Reply]

  28. says

    It was fun to see your numbers! I have never checked that out but know that grinding my own stuff is the only way we can afford to have the quality food that we do.

    We pay way less than that as we buy our wheat (and corn and rye) at a nearby grainmill. It is not organic but it is local and I appreciate that. We normally pay less than $10 for 50 lbs.

    I have a Whisper Mill grain grinder which I really like. We have been using it very regularly for almost 11 years and it is still going strong!

    [Reply]

  29. says

    My husband just got me a Wolfgang grain mill for our 10th anniversary. Just AMAZING!!! For me, it’s really not much cheaper than buying flour because the cost of wheat berries here in the DC metro area is sooo high. But I love the taste and I love the ability to store for longer and grind as needed.

    [Reply]

  30. Emikat says

    Hi, just found you via moneysavingmom, Love your site. I started grinding my own wheat 6 months ago and use the Family Grain mill. I purchased it for 260. It has a motorized base and a hand crank in case of electricity outage. I love it! I have no experience with any other mills since I am new to this but I can grind my wheat almost to the consistency of powder or just crack grains. I use it often and for long periods of time without any problems.

    [Reply]

  31. Tasha says

    Just FYI. I grind all of my own flour and LOVE it!! But I buy my wheat much, much cheaper than you do. I buy it through my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for $5.90 for a 25# bag. They have many canneries all over the world where you can go and purchase basic items like wheat, flour, sugar, beans, oats, and pasta in bulk. Anyone can go to these canneries and purchase items, you do not have to be a member of the church. Most everything you find there is cheaper than anywhere else. You can also can your items in #10 cans so that they will last longer on the shelf. You can find a list of locations here : http://www.providentliving.org/location/map/0,12566,2026-1-4,00.html
    I also suggest that you call the cannery before going there because some areas are not open all days.

    [Reply]

  32. soonermomof7 says

    I love my mill! We grind hard wheat, soft wheat, corn, oats, and beans (for Ezekiel bread or instant refried beans) for many uses. Aside from my stovetop cookware, it is the one tool I use about every day. I bought it over 10 years ago and it’s still going strong. What freedom!

    [Reply]

  33. Hannah says

    Laura,
    I have a Nutrimill also and I love it! I use it mainly for wheat, but I’d like to explore using it for other grains too. Any recipes? If I grind corn, is the cornmeal that it makes the considered stone ground cornmeal? Have you ever tried sifting your wheat for the bran to use in other things (like granola) and for a lighter flour, maybe for pie crusts and pastries? How do you go about doing that? I’ve tried a sieve and it didn’t seem to do a good job.

    [Reply]

  34. says

    I have decided to get a grain mill for my birthday (that was last week) and am right in the middle of this very research! I can’t wait to read your upcoming posts. I’ve been making my own bread for some time and am ready to step it up. Thank you in advance!

    [Reply]

  35. Chris says

    On your savings, are you also figuring into that the cost of sugar, butter, milk, and everything else in your recipes or are you just figuring the savings on flour?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    No, that was just the savings on flour, which means the savings would be even more!

    [Reply]

  36. says

    I’m so interested in learning more about this. I’ve been wanting to make more of our bread products and got into it last week making bread, waffles and muffins. So delicious. I’m quite interested in the whole grain mill idea (I have only used store-bought wheat flour). Thanks for blogging about this!

    [Reply]

  37. KT says

    Where do you get wheat berries for such a good price? I got a grain mill as a gift, but want to find a source of wheat berries that is cheaper than simply buying the flour from the store – right now I can’t!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Here are all the posts relating to Grains and Grain Mills: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/category/grains-and-grain-mills

    Here’s a post specifically addressing where to get wheat berries: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/grain-mills-pt-3-what-grains-to-use-and-where-to-find-them

    [Reply]

  38. Wendy Bender says

    i just got the Vitamix dry blade for gringing flour. I LOVE IT. I have made the best bread since I have been grinding my own. I already had the vitamix so I just bought the new canister with the grain blade. I cant believe how great it is!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    PLEASE email me if you can I have questions about grinding in my vita mix I have had trouble with it

    thank you

    [Reply]

  39. Brooke says

    I wonder if Santa will drop one of these off under my tree this year? Will you talk to my husband please! hehe.

    Now that I’ve prayed about staying GF or going to whole wheat and got my answer through, well YOU partially, and other sisters to go the whole wheat route, I am anxiously awaiting the time to get a Nutrimill! How often do they go on sale through Paula? Is that the best place to buy them or does it matter?

    [Reply]

  40. Geri Hoeft says

    Laura, how long does “freshly ground flour” stay fresh? Does it lose flavor and nutrients over time? Do you store it in the freezer or maybe you go through it fast enough so you don’t worry about it. Thinking about a buying a grain mill and just wondering how often to grind. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Laura goes through hers pretty quickly so it doesn’t have time to “go bad”. It is likely most nutritious if you use it up immediately, but I would’t worry that it will somehow lose all of its nutrients.

    [Reply]

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