No. of Recommendations: 2
LBYM in baking means getting the most for your investment of time and money.

Use bulk ingredients because they are MUCH CHEAPER than packaged mixes. The difference is almost obscene. Flour, sugar (white and brown), oatmeal, eggs, oil, baking powder, baking soda and salt are all very cheap in bulk. A packaged brownie mix that costs $3 may have only 50 cents worth of bulk ingredients. The extra cost is for packaging, advertising and profit for the manufacturer and grocer.

Bulk chocolate chips (in the baking section, not the candy section) are also pretty inexpensive. So is peanut butter.

Second-hand baking equipment, such as spatulas, bowls, measuring cups and cookie sheets, can be found at Goodwill.

<My main interest is making birthday cakes, or layer cakes for congratulatory events. >

Personally, I wouldn't start with cakes because they are elaborate and not foolproof. They have a foamy, delicate structure that can easily fall. Making and icing them takes a lot of time and effort. For me, that's a NOPE!

Instead, bake cookies and/or peanut butter-oatmeal nutrition bars. Nutrition bars are pretty foolproof and have the practical benefit that they are actually food (assuming you put in eggs). These also require no special equipment, just a bowl and a baking sheet.

Consider that commercial nutrition bars sell for about $1 apiece. You can easily make 10 oatmeal/peanut butter nutrition bars for the same, using bulk ingredients.

Incidentally, super-duper dog treats use the same recipe (add mushed liver and omit the sugar). Push into the baking dish with your fingers to 1/2" thick and cut into 1/2" x 1/2" squares after baking. Dogs will literally dance and turn themselves upside down to earn these liver treats.

If you want a fun baked birthday gift for a friend who has a dog, make nutrition bars, split the recipe and make part for the dog. Then you can have a blast watching the dog beg and do tricks to get treats.

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