Wednesday Baking | Does homemade bread save money?

by Kristen on August 25, 2010 · 128 comments

in Price Comparisons, Wednesday Baking

Every Wednesday (ok, most Wednesdays!) I share a baking recipe. And lots of pictures of said baking recipe. I don’t call this Wednesday Baking because I bake solely on Wednesdays…no, my oven gets a workout much more frequently than once a week! Wednesday just happens to be the day I share baking recipes with you. All the past baking posts are archived in the Wednesday Baking category, which can also be found in a tab underneath my blog header.

Recently, a reader sent me the following email:

I love the fact that you bake most of your breads and have tried to start doing that more often, but my question is this: How much does it save you to bake all of your breads, rolls, buns, english muffins,etc. especially when you can get them at ALDI for next to nothing? Have you ever figured it up to see the savings or do you do it more for the healthy part of it? Just curious!
Thanks!

-Sara

Sara is not the only reader who’s wondered this, and I’ve never even sat down to figure out the nitty-gritty price details either. So, I thought a Wednesday Baking post devoted to this topic would be good for me and for you!

First off, I should say that in my mind, homemade bread is more about eating really good, really fresh bread than it is about saving money. I could probably buy uber-cheap bread at the store and save some money over homemade, but I infinitely prefer the experience of eating homemade bread, especially when it’s warm from the oven. You really can’t buy bread like that from the store.

There is some pretty good bakery bread out there, yes, but I’m pretty sure that buying truly good bread would cost me way more than it costs me to make truly good bread.

Though not every bread I bake is healthy, I do bake partly because I can control what goes into my breads. I never have to worry about what preservatives are in my bread or whether or not there’s high-fructose corn syrup in the ingredients. I never have to worry about finding hydrogenated oils or soy products in our breads. I can use freshly ground whole grain flours when I bake (though I don’t do that all the time!), and you can’t get that at a bakery.

Even when it comes to the more indulgent breads I make like Cinnamon Crisps or Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, I still think what I make is better than what you can buy at the store. I use butter, not hydrogenated butter substitutes, I use real ingredients in my frostings (no stabilizers or fillers…just butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla), I use local eggs, and I use unbleached flour.

I know about all the ingredients in our breads, and that makes me happy. Nothing unpronounceable or unrecognizable goes into what I bake (Michael Pollan would be proud!).

I also like to bake my own bread because I can make whatever variety I want. I don’t have to search the local stores for cardamom bread…I can just bake my own. I don’t have to try to find a bakery that makes Cinnamon Crisps because I can make my own.

Ok, but what about the cost?

To do am Amy Dacyzyn-like comparison, I bought a loaf of super cheap white bread from Weis. It’s a one pound loaf and it cost $.99.

Here’s the ingredient list.

Basically, this bread consists of flour, water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, oil, salt, gluten, and a bunch of preservatives that I am too lazy to type out.

However, I am very certain that this bread fails Michael Pollan’s real food test if only because it contains azodicarbonamide (it’s hard to pronounce and I don’t know what it is!).

My sandwich bread recipe is probably the most similar to this type of bread, although my recipe calls for milk instead of water.

IMG_7805

I’ll go through the ingredient list and do a price breakdown so that we can figure out what’s cheaper…store bought or homemade.

5 3/4-6 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

I often get my flour for $.99/5 lb bag. However, let’s assume that you’re paying $2.50 for that bag. That means each cup of flour costs $0.125. So, six cups of flour costs $0.75.

1 pkg (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

I buy my yeast in bulk, which is the only way to go if you want to save money by baking. Yeast in packets is way, way, too expensive. Two pounds of yeast costs me about $3.50. As best I can figure, this means that each 2 1/4 teaspoon portion of yeast costs almost $0.03.

2 1/4 cups milk

The cheap store-bought bread contains water, not milk. Water costs a negligible amount, so I’m not even going to count that in the cost per loaf.

2 tablespoons sugar

There are 180 tablespoons of sugar in a 5 pound bag. Generic sugar can be had for $2.50/bag, which makes each tablespoon cost $.013. So, two tablespoons costs $.026, and we’ll round it up to 3 cents to be generous. ;)

1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil

The store bought bread uses oil, so that’s what we’ll use too. Generic vegetable oil is usually about $3 for 48 oz, which means that each tablespoon costs $o.03.

2 teaspoons salt

Generic salt is $.50 or less (I think it’s $.33 at Aldi), and there are 122.75 teaspoons in a 26 oz container. So, two teaspoons of salt costs $o.008.

So, the ingredients for this recipe (which makes two loaves) comes to $0.818. We’ll round it up to $0.82 to make things simple. This makes two loaves of bread, though, so the ingredients for a single loaf only cost $0.41.

What about electricity costs for the baking, though? Mr. Electricity estimates (though he thinks this is high) that an hour of 350 degree baking costs $.24. This assumes a price of $.012/kwh, which is higher than what I pay (I pay below $0.10/kwh).

So, the half hour of baking this bread calls for would cost $.12, and we can assume this is probably on the high end of things.

If I baked only one loaf of bread at a time (I almost never do that!), the ingredients would cost me $.041 and the baking would cost me $0.12. That’s still only $0.53 for a loaf of bread. If I bake two at a time, the cost per loaf goes down to $0.47/loaf.

What about the time cost?

Bread baking does take a few hours from start to finish, but actually requires very little hands-on time. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to make a batch of dough, and then the dough needs to rise for an hour.

It then takes me another 5 minutes to shape the risen dough into loaves, at which point the dough needs to rise for another 30-45 minutes.

And then it takes me all of about 1 minute to put the risen loaves into the oven, where they bake for 25-30 minutes.

Add in another few minutes for doing dishes and wiping counters, and I’d say there’s maybe a 25 minute hands-on time investment. I have bread baking down to a science, though, so I think I get it done in less than 25 minutes.

What’s the bottom line?

A loaf of storebought white bread costs $.99 (though it might be less at Aldi. Readers?).

A loaf of homemade white bread costs $0.47-$0.53 plus a 25 minute time investment.

So, without including the time factor, homemade bread is cheaper or at least as cheap as most storebought white bread (the cheapest I’ve ever seen bread for was $.33/loaf), especially if you take into consideration the fact that a loaf of homemade bread weighs more than 16 ounces.

Once you add in the time factor, though, storebought bread wins. Even assuming a minimum wage time value, 25 minutes of effort bumps the homemade bread cost way up.

Why don’t I give up baking my bread?

Mainly it’s because I like good bread. Comparing a loaf of freshly-baked homemade bread to a loaf of processed, airy bread isn’t really fair…it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges.

It would be much more fair to compare a loaf of homemade bread to a loaf from Panera, and if I did that, the homemade bread would win hands-down price-wise.

So, it’s much cheaper to satisfy my desire for good bread by baking my own than by buying good bread.

Along those same lines, once you start getting away from bargain basement bread comparisons, homemade bread really starts to gain an advantage. Whole grain bread, English muffins, bagels, cinnamon swirl loaves, coffeecakes, dinner rolls and the like are all fairly expensive, and I am positive that the homemade versions save me money. Maybe making sandwich bread doesn’t save me a bundle, but making cinnamon bread does.

What should you do?

I don’t know…that’s for you to decide! Your time, your tastes, and your priorities may be different than mine, so I can’t say whether or not you should take up yeast baking. I’m positive that I’m going to keep baking most of my family’s baked goods as long as I’m able, but that might not be the best choice for you.

If you are a happy baker like myself, though, I think you can rest assured that at the very least, you’re not putting yourself into the poorhouse by baking from scratch.

Readers, what do you think? I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Leave a Comment

{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

1 De August 25, 2010 at 8:25 am

I really enjoyed this post! I am only an occasional yeast bread baker, so the cost for me is a bit higher because I don’t have the advantage of bulk savings. I haven’t master a sandwich bread that satisfies my family, so I’d have to also factor in the extra cost of my learning curve before I got to the point of comparing results. I regularly pay a bit more to get organic bread at the market because I would rather not eat bread at all than buy the subpar cheap loaves.

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2 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:32 am

That’s a good point…it does take a bit of practice to get good at yeast baking. I’ve been doing this so long, though, yeast baking is like breathing to me. lol

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3 Erika August 25, 2010 at 11:46 am

De – I’m in the same place as you! My bread just never really comes out that great. I’m still in the learning curve myself! One thing that’s good to know though…bad (aka stale/dry/hard) bread makes FANTASTIC french toast. :) I’ve even just stuck my less-than-great bread in the freezer for french toast later on, and it’s STILL good for that purpose!

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4 Lilypad September 6, 2010 at 1:14 am

Also, if a loaf doesn’t turn out good enough for eating out of hand, you can turn it into breadcrumbs with a food processor or blender …I’ve done that with weird loaves, and put the breadcrumbs in the freezer.

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5 Carrie May 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Erika,
YOu might try raw honey for the sugar ‘ingredient’ vs. ‘store bought sugar’. It tends to make a huge difference in the ‘moisture’ level and it adds some health benefits that store bought sugar does offer.

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6 Kim August 25, 2010 at 8:27 am

I think the bread I make from my family has more substance to it than cheap store bought bread and helps to keep my kids full longer. Also I have a child with some severe food allergies and knowing exactly what ingredients are in our baked goods is priceless to me. I don’t know about you but for me there is something oddly calming about working with with dough, kind of like meditation or prayer.

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7 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:31 am

Ooh yes. Allergies would definitely tip the scales in favor of homemade bread.

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8 Kate August 25, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Allergies are a big reason I’ve begun to bake, too. Between my son’s nut allergy and my husband’s many, far-flung allergies(including soy, which is in almost all comercial bread), it’s just easier and safer to make things from scratch. I actually just made 3 batches of muffins yesterday to have something other than cereal for breakfasts. They freeze well and you only have to thaw out by individual servings, which brings me to my frugal tip – I realized that I was really putting a lot of batter into each cup, almost over-filling to get it all into 12 cups, so instead I stretched it out to 14 instead. Everyone’s going to eat a whole muffin at every sitting, but no one’s going to notice that it’s a bit smaller. It’s like 2 free servings. Yay, me!

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9 Ann August 25, 2010 at 8:30 am

I was reading an article just yesterday –lots of money saving tips, like use a credit union or local community bank for best deals, etc., and one of the tips was make your own bread. Their comparison was for a whole grain bread, the bakery kind that costs $5. The return on investment over a year for an automatic bread machine was 600%.

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10 Beth Anne August 25, 2010 at 8:43 am

We tend to use store bought (whole wheat) sandwich bread because it is easier for my husband to take to work. Any specialty sort of bread I much prefer to make, and thhose are the ones that are a TON more expensive store bought anyhow! I used to feel bad that homemade sandwich bread didn’t work for us, but I’ve realized that even if it could save more money, it is not as important as finding what works best for our family!

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11 yvrsasha March 29, 2012 at 3:53 am

I make a russian/jewish egg bread in my breadmaker, which has an excellent texture for sandwiches. so, not impossible. you just have to find the correct recipe and there are so many out there. if you don’t have a breadmaker, you can find them used on craigslist, thriftshops, etc.

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12 Allison August 25, 2010 at 8:45 am

I make my own bread often and I like being able to choose (and know) what exactly is going into my bread. I have a really simple whole-grain recipe (from Cook’s Illustrated) that makes a great sandwich bread. I also will buy sandwich bread when I can find decent wheat bread on sale at the store for those weeks when bread making just won’t work. I also indulge and buy baguettes when I don’t have the pre-planning time to make them. Bulk yeast is definitely the way to go (Gordon Food Services in our area).

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13 Emily August 25, 2010 at 8:52 am

I heart this post! Thank you for taking the time to do the math for us – I’ve always wondered. What’s the value placed on making your home smell wonderful for an hour? Or the look of awe in your friends’ eyes when they taste your bread? Or the self-satisfaction of watching your kid eat a pb&j and knowing they’re getting the best money CAN’T buy?

Homemade trumps store-bought any day!

(oh, and I’m making your cardamom bread tomorrow – can’t wait! I love that spice! If you still have your “old” cardamom, dump a teaspoon in the drip basket of your coffeemaker with your grounds. YUMM-O!)

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14 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

I am not normally a math-y person, but I really wanted to know that answer to this question! lol

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15 Rachel August 25, 2010 at 8:53 am

Right now, since I am pregnant and just plain tired, I will buy a loaf of sandwich bread as long as it has whole wheat and no HFCS. It’s just easier right now. but I completely agree that it is worth it (health wise) to make your own! I can’t wait until I can get back into it again. :)

Great post! I love cost comparisons!

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16 Shelley August 25, 2010 at 9:05 am

Homemade Bread is the next goal on my list…I’ve tackled yogurt (which I LOVE – and is SO easy!) and made peach freezer jam this past Monday. (Also delish!) But bread scares me a bit…I’m so worried that it won’t turn out! Oh well – all I can do is try…practice makes perfect, right?

On a side note, I Googled that ingredient that you couldn’t pronounce…here’s what came up in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azodicarbonamide

Yikes! Why is that in our bread?!?

I am becoming more and more conscious of what goes into our “everyday” foods…and it’s a bit astonishing sometimes!

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17 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 9:10 am

I was totally going to google that and forgot. Thanks!

If you’re really scared of making bread, maybe give my french bread recipe a try first…it’s a little simpler than a traditional loaf shaped bread.

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18 WilliamB August 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

I have a couple of suggestions to make bread-making less scary to start:
- If you’re making a yeast bread, buy fresh yeast: whatever has the most distant expiration date.
- You could start with a batter bread, which doesn’t require kneading
- For a yeast bread I suggest “Angel Biscuits.” This is an easy-to-make biscuit recipe that uses both yeast and baking powder. You can make the biscuits as soon as the dough rises or keep it in your fridge for up to a week, grabbing some dough out whenever you feel like some biscuits that day. You want two biscuits for breakfast? Get that amount out and bake, leaving the rest of the dough for later.
- Even failed bread makes good bread crumbs.

Good luck and have fun.

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19 wanda August 25, 2010 at 9:48 am

Even though my home made breads often ‘fail’ in that they aren’t quite what I intended – my worst failure was still delicious and wholesome. Maybe my rolls were kinda flat and dense, but we just slathered on some butter and they were yummy anyway. So even if the end result doesn’t quite look like the picture with the recipe, it probably isn’t a complete failure. I love Kristen’s recipe for rolls that she posted recently – it has a honey and egg white glaze. I’ve been using it to make sandwich rolls for my hubby’s lunches and even though they aren’t always pretty they do taste good!

Ingredients really do matter though – try a high quality flour – King Arthur is fantastic but there are other unbleached, un-enriched flours in the markets. You don’t save as much money that way but again, you know what you are eating.

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20 Faith August 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I find that using water that is only 105 – 110 degrees is the key (it is easy to kill the yeast with water that is too hot). Also, I find letting it rise a bit extra each time never hurts. I’ve never really failed at making bread, but those are two things that I have done since the beginning.

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21 Shelley August 25, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the tips William!

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22 Kalyn August 25, 2010 at 10:29 am

Thanks for posting that link! I went straight to the ingredient list on a store bought Whole Wheat bread in my freezer and it was there. I can’t believe the FDA allows this stuff to be in our food! Europe has already banned it from being used in their ingredients and so should the U.S!

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23 Erika August 25, 2010 at 9:07 am

Great post! Regarding the 25 minutes of time…I think that is hard to factor in, since baking bread is a hobby of yours! If you were SLAVING over your bread dough, then I’d take it into consideration…but since you enjoy baking, I think it’s not worth factoring in!

Also, funny story. Last Friday I was poking through an OLD Better Homes and Gardens (1972 I think?) bread cookbook…and I found a whole bunch of your recipes! I saw the Cinnamon Crisps, and the Cardamom Braids, and quite a few others! All along I’ve had that book sitting on my shelf, and had no idea where you found all these wonderful recipes – and it was right under my nose all along!

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24 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 9:11 am

Yep, one of my favorite cookbooks is my 1973 Better Homes and Gardens bread cookbook…I’ve posted pics of it before on here somewhere. Love that book!

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25 Cate August 25, 2010 at 9:21 am

As soon as I made your whole wheat bread recipe for the first time, I never bought bread at the store again. Okay, I take that back: we bought a single loaf of Sara Lee last fall after our beloved cat died and I was too sad to think about making my own. That loaf stayed in our fridge for literally a month before we ate all of it, though, because it was so subpar compared to homemade!

We used to buy those long loaves of Sara Lee honey wheat bread for about $2.79. I calculated it on my blog last year and two loaves of your whole wheat bread cost me $3.52, or $1.76 per loaf, to make. I didn’t take into account the cost of heating the oven, but at that point in time I was using yeast from the little jar (I’ve since switched to buying in bulk!), as well as organic all-purpose flour and butter, and local honey. You can’t beat that! Especially considering the taste and the wonderful smell of homemade bread.

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26 Annie Jones August 25, 2010 at 9:21 am

I prefer to make most of the breads for my family because I think they are healthier and that they do save money. However, if life gets in the way and I need the convenience of a store-bought loaf now and then, I don’t beat myself up over it. If it’s really expensive to buy a loaf that’s healthy, that’s ok; it’s just further incentive to make bread-baking a priority.

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27 Franci August 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

For me the thing that finally tipped the scales to make our bread is the TASTE of the bread here in the States — I can’t stand it! Don’t know if it’s the HFCS, molasses, vinegar or what! Made your sandwich bread the other day and we’re converted. :-) I’m going to try the Wholemeal sandwich bread this week!

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28 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 9:41 am

Yay! But now I’m curious what bread is like down under. lol Maybe you guys have really good bread or something!

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29 Megan August 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

Hi Kristen – I’m so glad you took the time to write out this post! I go back and forth on whether or not it’s worth the time to make stuff from scratch. Yes, making food from scratch with “real” ingredients takes time, and I’m sure to some, the cost savings just isn’t worth it. But on the other hand, we consume soooo much less salt and sugar when we make our own staples – broth, marinara sauce, tortillas, yogurt, cook beans from dry, etc. At this point in our lives, I’m willing to invest the time. Maybe later, I’ll be willing to opt for more convenience/processed foods, but for right now, cooking some items from scratch works for us.

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30 WilliamB August 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

Before I even read the post I expected the half-fallacy of comparing Kristen’s bread with squishy store bread. The ideal comparison is like to like: Kristen’s bread to other artisan bread, in which case homemade is much cheaper.

But I say half-fallacy because the comparison may be “cheapest bread I can buy” vs “cheapest bread I can make” because one must stick to one’s budget. In which case squishy store bread is the right comparison.

Finally, I’m a little surprised that the cheapest store bread is more than Kristen’s sandwich bread when K isn’t taking into account all her tricks (bulk yeast, flour stash, etc). Glad to hear it, though!

For those who are uncertain about kneading, in 2006 “No Knead Bread” burst onto the food scene. It takes days to make but only because the dough spends about a day resting and rising. It makes a peasant loaf with a shattery crust that requires NO kneading. Here’s Mark Bittman’s article on it:
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE7D6113FF93BA35752C1A9609C8B63

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31 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 9:40 am

Yeah, I was trying to be super careful not to tip things in the favor of homemade bread! and yay, even then homemade bread is still cheaper than the storebought stuff (or at least as cheap).

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32 Rachel August 25, 2010 at 9:43 am

When I started to consider baking my own bread vs. the store bought I had to think of a few things. First cost, cost of ingredients, cost of gas, time spent, & taste.

I used to buy store bought bread & even at $.79 a loaf for white sandwich bread at Aldi it was still expensive b/c I had to go to the store every week & pick up bread. Aldi is about 25 minutes away from my house so I would combine errands so spending more money at other stores & the cost of gas. And you know if you go into the store you usually pick up more than just bread.

If I didnt have to run out to the store & just baked my own at home it would save me in gas, extra purchases at the store & my time. Most errands my husband can run for me while on his way to & from work so I dont have to use the gas in the van, take the boys out of the house if they are sick, & if the weather is bad. I live in upstate NY so pretty much 6 months out of the year its winter here!

I like to do a big once a month shopping trip & only go to the store 2 more times the rest of the month for fresh produce in the winter & spring (summer & fall is from our garden, farmers markets & road side stands.) dairy & bread. I do can & dehyrdate a lot from our harvest but there is only so much you can can.

OK so I got off track lol. With 3 hungry growing boys & a hungry husband we can go through a loaf of bread a day. So @ $.79 (cheap stuff) I would usually buy wheat bread which is about $3.00 a loaf. We are spending $5.53 a week (cheap bread) and $21 a week (wheat bread). or over $20 a month on bread (cheap bread) & $84 (wheat bread). Thats A LOT of money for just bread.

Buying all of my ingredients in bulk helps with the overall cost of baking my own bread. I can get a 25lb bag of wheat berries for only $5 and grind my own flour. If you bought 25lbs of whole wheat flour at the store it would cost (in my area) around $20-$25. I also buy my yeast in bulk for about $3 for 2 lbs. 25 lb of sugar for $8-$10. I even buy my spices in bulk so cinnamon is cheap too.

Another thing I consider is my time. Im lucky enough to be a stay @ home mom. So I do have extra time in the day to bake homemade bread. Some people might not have that extra time b/c they either work full time or even have 2 jobs, a very active family in school, sports or church. So buying bread is just easier for them.

Im so glad that you did a post on this. I will have to foward on your site to my friends & family b/c we were just talking at my family reunion a few weeks ago about how much baking & cooking I do. They were asking me if it was worth it. Some days I can spend more than half of my day in the kitchen baking, cooking, canning & dehydrating. In my eyes yes its worth it in so many different ways. I know what Im giving my family, the cost (going out to eat all the time is way too expensive) & honestly I just love to cook & bake so its fun for me.

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33 Heidi August 25, 2010 at 9:44 am

Thank you so much for doing and posting your research! It was very helpful. I make all our bread, English muffins, granola bars, crackers, and flapjacks from scratch (as well as yogurt and sorbet, thanks to you!) and LOVE knowing that I’m offering my family healthy, filling, and frugal things. As part of a small family co-op, we buy three kinds of flour, plus whole oats and brown sugar through a wholesale restaurant supply company. Flour averages out to .36/lb. And even though, as you noted, labor is a factor in home baking, I consider that to be part of the daily flow of our household, just a part of life. Nothing suffers for the time I spend in the kitchen, and it’s not work that I expect to be paid for. I am paid anyway when my husband says “Thank you for letting me eat your cooking!” It’s so much fun to be a homemaker!

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34 Jonathan August 25, 2010 at 10:12 am

The bread I regularly buy, because it is 100% whole wheat and contains no high fructose corn syrup, costs $2.99 per loaf. So, homemade, even with the higher package yeast cost is gonna be cheaper. I just haven’t started making homemade break yet. I feel that this fall will become the time to start making bread at home!

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35 Ashley August 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

I adore good homemade bread. My husband and I usually grade a restaurant based on how good their bread is!

I would also be tempted to add in gas cost, though I know this is a factor for all food and groceries. However if I were to run out of bread, need it that day, and did not make my own, I could go to the small overpriced grocery store in our rural town and pay around $2 a loaf, or drive twenty minutes to the next town and pay for the cheap loaf, about $1.

I am quite happy making our bread. It relaxes me to knead and have the smell of bread baking in our home. In addition it is healthier without all the mystery ingredients in store bought bread.

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36 Faith August 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

In that case, Ruth Chris is an awful restaurant. ha. My in laws had a gift card and treated us to dinner there and the first thing they brought out was the bread… it was worse than store bought white italian bread. It was disappointing!

I love homemade bread too! It is so much fun to make.

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37 jessica August 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

Great post – I don’t know if I would have gone to all that trouble to figure it out, but I love that you did! it makes me think about the time that I could/should devote even just to making more meals at home… thanks for the inspiration!

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38 Cheryl August 25, 2010 at 10:55 am

I find baking therapeutic and if you were to add in that cost at $120 an hour…Store bought bread would be prohibitive on my budget!

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39 namastemama August 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

‘nuf said :)

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40 Elizabeth L. August 25, 2010 at 10:59 am

Thanks so much for doing this post! I recently blogged about why I make my own bread but was sort of stuck on “is it really cheaper?”. The answer I now know is yes! I buy flour when it’s the cheapest and yeast in bulk to help keep the price down. I use organic milk when I bake my bread but that’s the milk we use all the time so it’s not like I’m buying something special or spending more money.

I agree that more important that the actual cost of the bread is that it’s what makes you happy and makes you feel safe when it comes to feeding your family. I would rather pay a few cents more than eat bread with those scary, unpronounceable ingredients in them!

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41 Krisha August 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

Fantastic post! I’ve been wondering this for a long time. I found your blog several months back when I quit my job to become a stay-at-home-mom and was inspired to start making my own bread. I also started reading Michael Pollan around the same time and I’m completely skeeved out by what is in processed bread. We almost never buy bread anymore but I get a lot of people asking me if making it is really cheaper, I’ve always been convinced that it is but never sat down and did the math.

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42 Frugal(er) August 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

I have a huge (and irrational) fear of bread baking, so this will be tremendously helpful in getting over that. I do have two questions though:

1. I live with my boyfriend who is not a big bread eater, but I bring a sandwich to work nearly every day. How do you store fresh-baked bread so it actually lasts and tastes good? Maybe that’s less of an issue since you have so many people eating your bread, but I can’t help feeling like in my situation, I’d have good bread for a day, then slog through a stale loaf.

2. How many loaves do you bake at once (can you bake more than one at a time?), and how many loaf pans do you have?

Obviously, I’m quite the newbie, but these are the details I get hung up on :)

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43 Kim August 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

we store ours in an airtight container and when it starts to get a bit stale we toast the bread or grill it for sandwiches. If there’s any left after that we make croutons.

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44 WilliamB August 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I find my homemade bread goes stale within a week even when I keep it in a ziplock with the air squeezed out (richer bread lasts longer or maybe I just eat it faster). I recommend freezing sliced bread. Specifically, slice what you’re not going to use before it goes stale, freeze them individually, store the frozen slices in a ziplock with the air squeezed out, and take bread from the freezer as you need it. Bread that’s been frozen goes stale pretty fast so you don’t want to take out more than you need right then.

Slightly stale bread can be rescued by toasting it.

Most recipes make one or two loaves. You can bake several loaves at once but if you’re just starting, stick to one recipe’s worth. Bread doesn’t need to be baked in a pan – Kristen has many that are baked on a sheet – but a pan loaf is much better for sandwich bread. I recommend two loaf pans to start with. BTW, loaf pans vary a bit in size, but not enough to ruin your recipe.

I highly recommend a thermometer if you can afford it, specifically the type where the sensor stays in the oven and is attached to the meter by a cord. Bread it done at 180-210F (richer breads are done at a lower temp IIRC), so set the timer to ding at the right temp and bake till it dings. It really helps get the bread cooked properly. (And the roast chicken, and the steak, and the fudge, and … I use mine all the time.)

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45 Faith August 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I keep mine in the frig for 2-3 weeks normally. My husband and I don’t eat bread very fast so I usually only make one loaf or give one away. Kristen’s whole wheat sandwich bread is really good. I like nuts and seeds in my bread so I will add those in to her bread.

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46 frugal(er) August 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Awesome! Thanks for the help. In time I will conquer the bread fear!

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47 Jill August 25, 2010 at 11:40 am

Thanks for doing this comparison! I’ve been meaning to sit down and do one myself, as I have also been wondering the cost. I’m glad to know that it really is cheaper to make something that is much tastier and more nutritional! The discussion in the comments about all of the scary, unpronouncable ingredients in bread got me to thinking about how those ingredients are in practically every food these days, which makes me ever so grateful that I’ve been making a bigger effort to buy local, cook from scratch and eat more whole foods!

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48 Mae August 25, 2010 at 11:40 am

Love this post! I bake the bread for our little family, for lots of reasons. Like you I much prefer to eat homemade bread and to feed my family things that I understand and feel confident about whenever possible. My husband in particular feels loved and cared for when I cook and bake for him, and is always so appreciative when I bake. We’re more likely as a family to pack sandwiches for lunch, or make paninis for dinner when we have good bread, which also saves us money over eating out for lunch or wasting other food that could be made into a sandwich before spoiling, I call things like that ‘side-effect savings’.

The bread recipe I use calls for a total of 3 rises so I do have to pick a day when I don’t have a lot of out of the house things to do to make it. But it really makes all of us so happy it’s not an in convenience.

I’m going to try making your dinner rolls soon, as my toddler is obsessed with biscuits lately, and man am I sick of buying them.

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49 Sarah August 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

This was a great article! I love Dacyzyn’s price breakdown method. ;)

I currently buy Nature’s Own 100% whole wheat because 1) It doesn’t require the time that homemade does and 2) I don’t gobble it up the way I do with homemade bread! Also, it has less calories than the bread I make here at home.

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50 Jennifer August 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Kristen, thank you for this interesting post! 2 Questions:

1. How do you slice your homemade bread so thin? Mine is usually too soft to make nice, thin slices. Do you have any tips?

2. Where do you buy your yeast in bulk. I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

Thank you!

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51 Elizabeth L. August 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I buy my yeast in bulk at Sam’s Club. I think Costco has it as well. I’ve looked at places like Wal-Mart and Target, but they don’t seem to carry yeast in large quantities that I need it in. We have a membership to Sam’s, so I get it there.

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52 Lisa August 25, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Growing up, my mom made all our bread, and we found that an electric knife is a wonderful way to get thin, even slices without ending up with tons of crumbs. (Also, it’s great for slicing cooked meat like roast or ham!) I don’t know if it’s easy to find electric knives these days, but I think it would definitely be worth your while.

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53 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I use a sharp bread knife with fairly large serrations on the blade. You’ve got to have one of those! I also use a back and forth motion, with very little downward pressure.

I get my yeast from Costco, but it’s also at Sam’s Club and online too!

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54 Erin August 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I had always wanted to try and figure out how much a homemade loaf costs. So glad that you did it. We had been buying a loaf of bread for $1 @ Kroger every week. Every time we needed French bread, or hamburger buns, or rolls we bought those at Kroger, too. I decided that I would feel so much better about the bread we ate if I made it myself. So I did it. When my husband tasted the whole wheat sandwich bread, the first thing he said was that it was SO much better than the wheat bread we get at Kroger. When I gave my little man some homemade toast for the first time, I caught him trying to shove 3 cubes in his mouth at once! I think we’re all happier with homemade, regardless of the cost.

On another note, I wanted to thank you for introducing us to Aldi. We love it! My favorite part (other than the amazingly low prices) is that it’s never crowded and I’m so much more relaxed when doing my shopping. Plus, we always have the same cashier and she is so cheerful and polite. I wish we had started shopping there sooner!

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55 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Aldi ROCKS. Love it to pieces and I’m glad you do too!

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56 Becky August 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm

What a great post!! I am making my first attempt at baking a yeast bread this weekend so I was very excited to see this cost comparison. My husband doesn’t believe it will be less expensive to start doing this, but I think once he tastes how good fresh bread is that will change his mind…that plus showing him the breakdown from this post! My question is, how do you get your slices to look so perfect???? Do you have some sort of machine that slices them? Or just lots of practice? Whenever I slice a loaf of bread it always come out crooked with the top being skinnier than the bottom and it just makes for an awkward sandwich. Also, what type of surface do you use to knead the bread? Just your regular countertop with some flour on it? I have this problem when making rolled out cookies too…my dough always, always, always sticks to my counter top. Thanks!!!!

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57 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Secrets? A good serrated bread knife and a sawing motion with little downward pressure.

I knead my bread dough on my formica counter with a bit of flour on it. I try to keep flour just on the outside of the dough as I knead.

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58 Debbie September 28, 2010 at 11:08 am

Hi! I bake all our bread. I needed something that I could pick up and move quickly when I wanted to knead my bread, so I went to a restraunt supply store and bought a huge cutting board. It is the same width of my counter, and about 2.5 feet long. It is made of white plastic stuff, and it has a slightly rough surface. When you dust it with some flour, it kind of holds onto the dough as you knead it….making it go very quickly and easily. When you’re done, just pick it up and rinse it off……it stores nicely between the fridg and the cupboard. I love it!

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59 Merrell Skipper August 25, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Good post Kristin. I love homemade bread. There’s absolutely no comparision when it comes to taste. When I get the homemade breads at HEB they cost upwards of $4, so making my own is well worth the time. And I use oat bran flour in place of half the all purpose and it makes it healthy without changing the texture.

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60 Ada August 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Thank you for this post!! I make homemade bread almost weekly for my husband and I. I knew it was much healthier than average store-bought bread, and it is nice to know it is cheaper too. I have been wondering. It is good motivation to continue what I have been doing. Keep up the Wednesday baking posts – I love them!!!

PS – For those of you with issues regarding bread going stale, just slice the bread up and put it in the freezer. You can take out exactly what you need and it tastes just as fresh as when it went in the freezer. If packing it for lunches, put it in your lunch bag frozen and by lunch it should be thawed out. At home, put the frozen slices in the toaster. Yummy!

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61 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Yes, that’s what I was going to say, exactly! lol

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62 namastemama August 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Fantastic post. This is why I don’t blog, you say most everything I would. This morning I made pancakes from scratch. I used to buy mix. Bob’s Red Mill. I often buy raw sugar, organic flour and sometimes organic butter. Always organic free range eggs and raw milk. I figured my pancakes cost $.19 to feed 4 of us, and have extras for 3. This totally beats the mix price.
Key ideas about your post. One can not compare homemade and store bought bread. I recently had to buy a loaf at the store. Our local bakery was closed and I didn’t have time to make any. The best I could do, 100 % percent whole wheat, no HFCS or hydrogenated oil but still full of chemicals cost me over $3. Here’s the great part. My son won’t eat it, well he will when he wants PBJ but he doesn’t like it. 4 days later the loaf of bread is still around. This NEVER happens with homemade bread. I’m lucky if it last 2 days. The cost of the store bought bread will be even more if it ends up feeding the birds.
Second key point which you highlighted. It’s about taste. Even if it cost more I would still do it. How much can I charge for the wonderful smell or heating up the kitchen. Jealous neighbors, that say “Oh, what are you making?” It’s just bread. Too some I might as well have said, It’s just a space rocket.
Finally, I do use a bread machine in the summer. It’s super easy. I don’t want to heat up the house with the oven. Never makes a loaf as good as oven bread though.

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63 Nicki at Domestic Cents August 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I make all of our bread too, and have done so for about 3 years … and I completely agree with you! It’s a lot more about me having control of what we eat. The cost-savings is a bonus :)

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64 Rose August 25, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Baking is very cathartic to me and the smell of the baking bread is a big part of that. I feel like I am doing something special for my family when I bake. Plus the taste is awesome. I will always keep on baking bread. =]

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65 Julie August 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Excellent post!! I love it! I NEVER would have thought that homemade bread (while WAY more tasty and healthy for you than cheap white bread) would be less expensive. Wow…Im gonna start baking! Thx!

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66 Kimberly August 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Awesome Post!!! Thank you so much for breaking down the cost(s). I love home-made bread! Warm and buttery from the oven…one loaf at our house is usually consumed as soon as it comes out…two teenagers, a husband, and myself! The second loaf usually last a few days! :o)

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67 hiptobeme August 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I like that you did a cost breakdown, it shows commitment to your craft. To me, homemade bread is an art, and that is priceless. Just think of the skills you are passing down to your kids who will probably be bakers as well!

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68 Karen August 25, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Awesome post and comments. I also make almost all our breads. I started out using a bread machine on the dough only setting because I don’t seem to knead properly yet. I can make several loaves or types by removing dough to rise in a greased bowl and starting the cycle over for the next batch much sooner than letting it rise in the machine. Dough can also be stashed in fridge until all batches are ready to form and bake at once. I never bake in the machine, always in bread pans in the oven.
We used to use sliced bread for sandwiches, but after an experiment to make our own hamburger buns that don’t turn to mush on the bottom, the lunch takers have decided they like the buns better. I make a loaf into eight balls, squash them flat on a baking sheet, rise and bake. I imagine that the unbaked buns could be frozen on the sheet, then wrapped and baked later as needed. The baked ones store well in the freezer, thaw in bag at room temp. I also have tried an experiment with fabric bread bags. I used a clean tea towel to wrap the bread and stored the wrapped bread in a metal bread box that has a few vent holes in each end. What impressed me was that the towel felt almost damp after a day, but the bread was not dried out. It also did not mold in the summer heat nearly as quickly as bread in a plastic bag. It did dry out faster once temps got into the 100 degree range, but I like the idea enough that I have stitched a large tea towel into two simple bags.
My final point is that of the cost of one’s time. If you are not taking time off from a paying job to bake bread, how do you calculate a cost for time? If you were sitting on the couch watching soaps, would you also calculate the cost of that time? How about the time spent sleeping every night? You actually are doing the equivalent of “earning” the savings realized with the finished product. If a 20 minute project saves $.30, then you have “earned” the equivalent of $.90/hour. You don’t receive that money any more than you lose what your time “costs”. But you don’t spend it either.

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69 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Yeah, I go back and forth on the whole time thing. I always feel like I have more time than money, but I know a lot of people don’t feel that way.

So, I had to at least throw it in there! lol

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70 Lisa O Shea August 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Im with you on this one Kristen, i had never made proper bread before i found your blog and my boyfriend plagues me, make bread, make bread. So much so now that i just have to splash for a bread maker soon, i agree about knowing what goes into the bread is good, i am so concious what goes into food now, and want to live a long life!!And want my future kids to live healthy too!!

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71 WilliamB August 25, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Lisa, I gotta ask: why doesn’t your boyfriend make the bread?

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72 Lisa O Shea August 26, 2010 at 4:31 am

Cos hes a typical male, ha ha. Ive let him try and make pizza dough, and he comes in from the kitchen and complains it didnt rise!Men alway cant help just adding a little bit of this or that!And i explain thats why things didnt work! I dont mind though i love cooking as much as i love eating and look forward to having a happy family like Kristins in the future! :) She is a good role model!

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73 WilliamB August 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm

You could point out to him that traditionally, commercial bakers were male. In historical France women almost never made bread. Ovens were too expensive to heat at home and they were considered too weak to deal with the tens of lbs of dough all at one time.

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74 Becky August 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Hello! I kept meaning to e-mail you a “THANK YOU!” for inspiring me to make bread. So far I’ve made whole wheat sandwich bread, rolls, french bread and English Muffins. I live on my own, so I just freeze what I won’t be using in the next day or two and it has been working out great. I never would have tried it unless I had seen all of your straight forward recipes and how simple you make it all seem. And now I love it! The process, the flavor, and just the satisfaction in seeing it rise and smelling it bake. So thank you, thank you! I love that it’s inexpensive too, I’ve been wondering about that same thing : ).

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75 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Oh, I’m so glad. Yay! And I’m esp. happy that my posts made it seem not so hard. That’s my goal. :)

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76 simplymichele August 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm

One of the best things I notice when I bake my own bread…..how wonderful my home smells….the smell of fresh baked bread even went into the garage! Now that is something a person can’t get from store bought bread.

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77 Linda August 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Obviously this post was a big hit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen people leave so many comments. Keep up the good work.
After reading the post I thought of several additional hidden advantages to home made most of which have already been mentioned but although I do not currently make my own bread because I work at a bakery and get all the day old bread I need for free (and we make a wonderful 12 grain sourdough) I have baked my own bread even thought I’m single. I like to use mini pans (2″ X 2-1/2″ X 5″) and I make small loaves that I can use in a few days and freeze the others.
The advantages:
You can’t beat the aroma of fresh baked bread
Kneading bread is indeed therapeutic
It’s entertaining, my mother baked when I was a child so it was common place for me but my neighborhood friends loved to come over on baking day and watch as she made loaf bread, hamburger buns and cinnamon rolls.
For those who haven’t become home bread makers yet; inexpensive bread pans are easy to find at thrift stores.

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78 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Hee. You must have missed the Walmart post and the one where I proffered that 4 kids weren’t an environmental disaster. I think those two topped this one. lol

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79 EngineerMom August 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

My very tippity-top reason for baking homemade bread is the ability to make whole wheat bread that isn’t sweet. I really don’t like sweet bread for toast in the morning, but I have never found a storebought whole wheat bread that isn’t sweet. The closest thing was a cracked wheat bread from a speciality bakery in Minnesota (which I can no longer access now that we’re in Ohio!).

Loved seeing the price break-down! It definitely fits in with my gut sense that making 3 loaves of homemade whole wheat bread per week was cheaper than trying to buy a good analog at the store.

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80 Diane August 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I did a cost analysis on your hamburger rolls the first time I made them. By the way, my family loves these rolls for our burgers. The cost was $.49 for eight rolls. The cheapest store-bought rolls we have in our area are from Walmart (their brand). They cost between $1.00 and 1.14 for a package of eight. Quality cannot compare.

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81 jewels k August 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm

i’ve been making bread & your yogurt ( though i use stevia as the sweetener…less calories) since i found your blog last year (i check it everyday….it’s like my morning coffee) i’m that addicted.haha! anyway, it is sooo good & definately worth it. nothing like the smell of fresh bread! i’d like to get a bigger mixer so i can make 4 loaves at a time & freeze it.

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82 Kristen August 25, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Ooh yes. The smell is heavenly.

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83 Flamingo Mama August 25, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Awesome post!! wow…that took a lot of time! I’ve always wanted to figure it out and never did so thank you !!

2 quick questions…1 ..how do you slice your bread so nice? mine never gets that thinly sliced or it crumbles.

the other question is where do you regularly get your flour for 99 cents? I was able to snag whole wheat for 99cents for several months at Amelias, but now it’s gone. Would love to have a better source.

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84 Steve August 26, 2010 at 5:06 am

A great post, and it must have had taken some time to write.

Here, a loaf of economy bread costs around 35p and so is much much cheaper than making yourself – but the bread is like soggy cotton wool and is fit for nothing, plus at this price it must be a massive loss leader. So instead, a good quality loaf from the bakers is around 2 (which to me seems very expensive!) which tastes very nice but the price seems too high for just bread and so I would not be prepared to spend that much each day on bread.

The nice thing, and what is made the point in your post, is the actual doing it yourself and knowing what you have put in etc… When we have “no food” in the house, we are still able to make bread rolls for lunch “out of nothing”, out of store cupboard stuff. Better still, after lunch all rolls have been eaten.

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85 Leigh Ann Hicks August 26, 2010 at 8:32 am

Here is a more “apples to apples” comparison. Great Harvest makes bread fresh (with basicallythe same ingredients as Kristen’s) every day. Their price is $4.65 for a slightly smaller loaf. So, I think you win hands down!

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86 Crystal August 26, 2010 at 8:42 am

I hate the yeast thing. I live in a rural area and can’t get it in bulk…I may try to find it online somewhere though because the cheapest I can get it is about $.27 per packet.

I was excited about this post, but I’m kind of confused about your logic in calculating. Since a part of your reasoning in baking is in using YOUR ingredients (and not the storebought bread ingredients), why did you use half your recipe and half theirs in your calculations? (i.e. you seem to have used all of your own measurements/recipe for some ingredients–like sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, but you left out some key ingredients just because they differ from the storebought bread–like milk and butter, which are significantly more expensive than water and oil).

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87 Kristen August 26, 2010 at 8:51 am

Well, for this comparison I was trying to compare apples to apples, ingredients-wise. I wanted to see if making the identical thing at home was cheaper than buying it from the store. Does that make sense?

I couldn’t use HFCS in my recipe because I didn’t have it! lol And I couldn’t use the preservatives either. I was just getting as close as possible to the store-bread ingredient list.

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88 Crystal August 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

I kind of understand but at the same time it doesn’t *really* tell you what your bread vs. their bread costs because it’s not what you actually do when you’re making it. I know it took a lot of time to do this, but for me it doesn’t really tell me anything since it’s half their ingredients/recipe and half yours.

Oh…are you saying that you actually used these ingredients (with the water and oil) in place of your usual ingredients to make the bread this one time? Did the taste suffer? Or was it up to par with your usual bread?

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89 Kristen August 26, 2010 at 9:01 am

Yep, I make bread without milk and butter very often, esp. when I will be serving it to people with dairy allergies. I think I prefer it with milk, but it’s still good without it (And still way better than the $.99 loaves!)! And honestly, the butter/oil thing isn’t very noticeable since the amount is so small. It would be a bigger difference in a recipe like cinnamon bread or cinnamon crisps.

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90 Crystal August 26, 2010 at 8:58 am

Yeah, that does make more sense now! lol.

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91 Kristen August 26, 2010 at 9:02 am

Oh, and DO look online for bulk yeast! It would be very worth paying a few bucks in shipping.

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92 Crystal August 26, 2010 at 8:47 am

For me, some of the breads I make are less expensive and some about break even, or even cost a bit more than cheap breads at the store. But, I love homemade bread and I love making it, and i love what is for me the convenience of it–I don’t have to stock my pantry/fridge/freezer with muffins, rolls, biscuits, breadsticks, pizza dough, etc. If I want it, I don’t have to run out to the store or whine that we don’t have any, I can just make it :)

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93 AT August 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

What kind of flour are you buying for 99 cents for a 5lb bag? That can’t be organic, unbleached flour, surely? And if you’re using that generic stuff filled with chemicals – doesn’t that defeat the purpose a little? Personally, I switched to King Arthur flour a few years ago and wouldn’t use anything else now.

Great post though – thanks for the info. :)

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94 Kristen August 26, 2010 at 10:37 am

The white flour that I buy is Gold Medal unbleached, which is what Cook’s recommends. It’s the closest thing I have to what the bread manufacturers use, and I was trying to compare apples to apples as best I could. :)

When I do whole grain baking, I grind my own flour from wheat berries that I buy in bulk.

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95 Mrs. M August 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I heart this post. Thank you for the breakdown!

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96 lanie August 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm

This post made me smile– so glad to see someone else doing the cost-per-ingredient thing… I’m such a geek about it that it’s virtually impossible for me to NOT add up the cost of a meal in my head. The only sad part is I rarely can stand to eat in a restarant anymore. Love your site!

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97 Tracey September 1, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I started using your whole wheat bread recipe about 6 months ago. I can hardly stand store-bought bread now. When I was buying bread, I was spending 3.50-4.00/loaf because I bought the healthiest bread possible. Now, I buy a 5-lb bag of whole wheat King Arthur flour(my favorite flour) for around 3.00. I make either whole wheat or white whole wheat and it’s amazing bread. I freeze it in half loaves (it’s only my husband and I). It makes great sandwiches and fabulous toast. Never buy bread again!

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98 Heather D. September 18, 2010 at 1:48 am

It’s pizza night every Friday for this family – it’s also a fun family night when we make the pizza dough from scratch and then add any toppings we like. That would be our reason for doing from scratch. We don’t eat sliced bread often, it gets on Friday Waste list more than not – so I love being able to know how to make bread for occasion when we want french loaf for spaghetti, cornmeal for chili or honey wheat bread for sandwiches and don’t need a trip to grocery until I really need groceries.

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99 Rabia December 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Hi,
I enjoyed the post. I’ve recently taken up yeast baking for budget reasons, and I really appreciate your calculations since someone asked me how I’d save money by using the oven more! Electricity is cheaper than I thought! So, I’ll enjoy the recipes I have learned, and keep saving money in the future by expanding my experience with yeast baking! Thanks for the post! My advice to novice yeast bakers, force yourself to make bread homemade and make it a habit for life! You’ll never regret the hard work after smelling the yeast dough rise and bake, and everyone will enjoy warm bread out of the oven :)

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100 Rose March 3, 2012 at 9:25 am

Great post. I started making my own bread in a bread machine when I lost my job. I am able to make a loaf of organic whole wheat bread for about 75 cents. Fortunately, I found a job after 18 months, but I couldn’t give up my bread making. It’s so much better and doesn’t take much time.

I use the jars of yeast from the grocery store, which comes out to about 15 cents per loaf. Also, I use organic powdered milk since I don’t always have fresh milk on hand. I also learned to add vitamin c powder (which I buy in tablets from the dollar store – 1/2 a tablet or 250 mg is all you need per loaf), and lecithin granules (1 tablespoon per loaf) or an egg to each loaf. These are natural dough enhancers and they work. Lecithin is cheaper if you order it online. I also buy my flour and wheat gluten in the bulk bins from my grocery store – much cheaper than if I buy it in 5 pound bags.

BTW, azodicarbonamide is a chemical dough enhancer that is outlawed in Europe. It causes asthma and significant lung problems in people who breathe in dust/flour containing this substance.

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101 John May 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Excellent discussion of costs and benefits (this coming from an engineer). Tracks perfectly with my own experience. I’ll keep baking! Thanks for the thumbs up to this approach.

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102 Rick September 11, 2012 at 5:29 am

Aldi’s potato bread is excellent and far cheaper than anywhere else.

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103 Dave October 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Thanks for this. I am working out how to cut down my weekly food shopping bill, and this is perhaps pointing me in the direction of making my own bread

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104 Benjamin Cutler October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Once you add in the time factor, though, store bought bread wins. Even assuming a minimum wage time value, 25 minutes of effort bumps the homemade bread cost way up.

No, no, no, no. You can’t add the cost of your time like this. Unless you buy bread and then spend the time you would have spent making bread actually making money, you can’t claim lost wages as a cost, because there are no wages lost. Most people either are salaried, or work according to an assigned schedule, and any time making bread (or doing other tasks around the home) is taken not from time spent in wage labor, but it taken from time spend doing other things (like posting comments on blogs, watching commercials on TV, or spending time with the children).

The proper question is: is it worth it for me to spend the extra x hours baking bread to save y dollars every month? In order to properly answer that question you have to prioritize your time, because it depends on what the time is taken from and how valuable that time is to you. In other words, if you find you regularly spend an hour a day watching TV; it’s probably worth it to trade one half an hour of TV watching once a week to bake bread.

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105 Benjamin Cutler October 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Ooops, look like I replied to Dave’s comment. This was meant to be a reply to the post, not to Dave’s comment.

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106 Kristen October 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm

This is true, and it’s generally how I approach the time cost. But I know other people don’t look at it that way, which is why I added in that little caveat. :)

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107 gill October 23, 2012 at 7:56 am

Hi! I wanted to tell you that I found your breakdown of the cost of homemade bread was very helpful! :) I have been baking bread for my family for the last few years, rarely do we buy bread from a store anymore as even a ‘cheap’ loaf of white bread is over $2.00 here in Nova Scotia! Recently I’ve been asked by work buddies, if I would start selling my homemade goodies. I had no idea what it costed to make a loaf, so I started doing the math. I make a country style white bread which takes 24 1/2 cups flour, makes around 6 loaves and 2 dozen rolls. But I still don’t really know what to charge per loaf, I don’t want to charge too much but I don’t want to ‘gyp’ myself. Any suggestions?
Thanks!

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108 jennifer January 7, 2013 at 9:42 pm

How many slices do you get out your homemade bread? I always seem to cut my bread way to thick so it doesn’t last add long as the store bought. is there a trick to slicing?

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109 Kristen January 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm

It depends what I’m using the bread for…if I’m making sandwiches, then I cut it pretty thinly. Here are my best tips for slicing homemade bread.

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110 crob000 February 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I just went to my local grocery store and the cheapest bread is $2.07 for white sliced bread. Needless to say, I won’t pay it. I would rather eat fruit and veggies and learn how to make my own bread to use in my bread maker.

Even if I was paying more, I would rather be gouged on individual ingredients than to be gouged on bread.

This is in Ontario, Canada btw. One of the problems is that there are no regulations on mark ups for food anymore. It is essential to life but the government doesn’t care about us, only your money. When grocery stores/chains bring in their own brands, they mark all the competition up by 120% to get you to buy their brands instead.

I have decided to not buy any of the products they are clearly doing that to and give them nothing instead. Not very smart on the grocery chains part.

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111 Cassandra March 15, 2013 at 9:33 am

I just want to point out: If you factor in time of baking for the cost of homemade, then you must also factor in the price of gas for store bought.

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112 Carole T April 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for this! I have been making my own cookies, granola, banana bread, and now whole wheat bread. I am on to yogurt next, but I have a question. Where do you buy yeast in bulk?

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113 Kristen April 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Any warehouse store should have yeast at a great price, but you can also buy it online, like at Amazon.

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114 Greg April 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Just thought I’d chime in on electricity use. I have a little electric meter (kill-a-watt) that you can plug an appliance into, and I plugged my breadmaker into it to see how much electricity it used.
It registered 0.37 kWh for a full cycle of a 2-pound loaf. Depending on whether you include delivery charges and taxes and such, that is between $0.02 and $0.04 per loaf for me.

My estimate of the cost of one loaf came out higher than yours, but I am using a recipe with eggs, olive oil, bread flour, and packaged yeast.

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115 Jasmine July 23, 2013 at 11:01 am

Thanks so much for this post!! I am finally getting all the kids to school so I can really start baking from scratch more! I kept thinking it is cheaper but have not had time to sit down and calculate…
Love your blog!!

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116 Jenny September 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

Nice to see someone else doing a price comparison. I have only started to make homemade breads this year and when I finally put some thought into the cost comparison, I was saving a whole load of $$$ since I live in NYC. The cheapest price I can find for a store bought 9-inch loaf is roughly about $1.39 or $4 for a name brand of the same size. Without factoring the time & energy, making two 9-inch loaves costs me roughly $0.90.

I have to say that even if the cost were the same, I would still choose to make bread myself over store bought simply for that wonderful smell & taste. It’s very hard to keep the hubby out of the kitchen long enough for the bread to cool down and often find a kaiser or two missing from the rack when I turn away for a split second.

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117 Liza October 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I’m just wondering, can you give me a copy of your bread recipe (concise, though I could write it down from here)?

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118 Kristen October 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm
119 Ross Hill October 4, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Kristen, You are spot on about the value of making your own bread. I make bread by weight and at present have a batch working that is 2 pounds of flour, 26 ounces of liquid comprised of 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk and enough water to make 26 ounces total. Makes a total weight of dough just over 4 pounds. Flour is 40 cent/pound and eggs are about 15 cents each and milk is about 2 cents per ounce so for about a buck and a quarter I am making 4 pounds of bread that can be loaves or rolls or pizza crust. My August gas bill for cooking and water heating was only 8 dollars I bake bread every week.

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120 Sandra December 8, 2013 at 8:51 am

What about the time and gas it takes to get to Aldi’s? Surely that tips the scales in favor of the homemade bread? I also like the fact that home-baked bread does not come in a plastic bag. My flour comes in a (compostable) paper bag, making it more Earth friendly.

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121 Justine February 18, 2014 at 2:16 am

You definitely do not live in new york city!!!

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122 Kristen February 18, 2014 at 5:26 am

This is true! With NYC prices, it probably saves even more to make a loaf of bread at home.

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123 April March 21, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Hi,
I am starting to consider baking my own bread because we recently found out we need to go gluten free at our house and gluten free bread is UBER-expensive, and hard to find without soy and other junk we don’t want like brown rice flour (arsenic levels are high). Currently I am paying 6.99 for a tiny little loaf of decent gluten free bread at the store. We are a family of five so, you can do that math there of why I want to start making my own ;) So with all this I have a question. How do you store your sandwich bread to keep it fresh? Do you pre-slice it? I would prefer to pre-slice mine if possible, but I need it to hold up for sandwiches. In the past when I would bake my own bread it would get crumbly by the next day! I read your tip about potatoes, so I’m going to try adding one of those in too. Any ideas? Thanks!

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124 Kristen March 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

I store my sandwich bread in plastic bags at room temperature and I just sliced it as I need it.

BUT!

I have nooo experience with gluten-free bread. America’s Test Kitchen just came out with a gluten-free cookbook, though, and if I had to go gluten-free, I would run right out and buy that book. I know it has lots of baking recipes and I am positive it has storage tips as well.

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125 David May 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I use a bread maker machine to make my bread. Assembling the ingredients and throwing them in the machine takes about 5 minutes! I use honey instead of sugar. Good bread. Say 10 minutes including washing stuff, and cutting and eating that first hot slice!! :)

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126 Ines July 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Great post !!!! Thank you for breaking down the cost comparison! And thank you for reigniting my desire and drive to make my own bread.
I used to make bread in my bread maker … maybe that’s considered cheating … but it made great bread !!!
I would love for you to share one or two of your basic bread recipes … or maybe you have already posted them on your site and I have not looked far enough yet … ;)
I love being in my kitchen … love to cook and bake … so thanks again for inspiring me to make my own homemade bread !!! :)

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127 Kimberly September 3, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I recently starting my own breads when I left my job to be a stay at home mom. I haven’t broken down the costs, but I feel my savings comes in not having to drive 10 miles each way to the nearest grocery store and end up buying things I don’t necessarily need. I usually use my bread machine to make my doughs, so my hands on time is less than 10 minutes – much less than a trip to the grocery store.

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128 Virginia Slomba September 18, 2014 at 5:15 am

Great because I am retired I can take the time to bake a wholesome bread.

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