Bread Baking Breakdown
Monday, November 17, 2008
Our family eats bread. A lot of bread. If we have sandwiches for lunch, we'll use almost the entire loaf (14-16 slices, one sandwich each).

I can find Nature's Own Whole Grain bread at the 99cents Plus store, so I've fallen out of the habit of baking. (Plus, I hate to bake when the AC is on!) I've recently found out that the chain is going out of business, and I've never seen whole grain bread that cheap anywhere else.

My "next best" is Sam's Club, where a two-pack of Nature's Grains is around $3 ($1.50 a loaf).

If I got into the habit, I could easily make my own. I know how. I have a KitchenAid. It's not actually THAT much work, you just have to stick around for the rising/proofing and baking. We only have one vehicle, so when husband dear is at work I pretty much just stay at home, anyway.

Is it worth it? Am I actually saving any money by making my own? Let's find out!

My whole wheat bread recipe makes 2 loaves, and I can get 14 slices out of each loaf if I let it cool before cutting. That's a challenge, though. You know how good fresh baked bread smells!


6 c. whole wheat flour , 95 cents ($2.76 for 5 lbs.; 17 1/2 c. per 5 lb. bag, = 15.77 cents per cup.)
1 T. gluten - 10 cents ($1.98 for 20 T., = 10 cents)
2 T. milk - 4 cents (2 T = 1 oz. Current price for milk- we just switched to organic - $4.99/128 oz. = 4 cents per oz.)
4 T. oil - 8 cents (4 T = 2 oz. Canola oil = $1.88/48 oz, which is about 4 cents per oz.)
1/2 c. sugar (brown or white) - 7 cents white sugar, (.31 cents per pound, 2-1/4 c. per pound = 3.4 cents per 1/4 c.)
2 tsp. salt - negligible
4 tsp. yeast - 9 cents
(32 oz. of yeast for $4= 12.5 cents per ounce; 4 tsp = 2/3 of an ounce = 8.4 cents)
2 c. water - if it comes from the tap, it's free, right? Cost is negligible.

Total cost, 2 loaves of bread: $1.33 or .66 per loaf.

However, there are factors that make things more complicated.

When I bake fresh bread, it tastes better.

There is no waste - the kids don't leave the crusts on the floor and the baby doesn't lick the peanut butter out of the middle and secretly toss the actual bread part of the sandwich.

I also think it's healthier; I often add oat bran to the mix to boost the fiber content. Even without the oat bran, one slice of homemade bread has more than 3 g. of fiber (assuming 14 slices per loaf). (Food data from here.)

I can soak the flour to reduce phytates, increasing nutrition.

The kids beg me for a slice, and I know they are getting a wholesome snack.

I do have to run the oven, and use water to wash the mixing bowl, loaf pan, and cutting board.

It takes time to bake bread. Not a lot, but some and I must be mindful of the kitchen while it's rising, proofing, etc. I can't leave the house, for example.

I never get as many slices out of homemade bread as a store bought loaf; a homemade loaf makes fewer sandwiches (with thicker slices.)

Those add ins add to the cost (but oat bran is so cheap, it's a very small amount.)

We eat more butter. The family would never eat a slice of store bought bread unless it was in a sandwich. Homemade bread? I have to hide it so it will make it until lunch.

My conclusion:
Baking my own bread is cheaper. A comparable loaf of whole wheat bread at the grocery store costs $2.49; even if I buy it for a dollar (while I still can) I'm paying 40 cents for the convenience of not baking it myself. We use about 4 loaves a week, and I will save $9 a week by doing it myself.

As I mentioned before, we just switched to organic milk, for health reasons. I can't buy everything organic, so I am trying to switch to things that will have the most impact on our long-term health. Organic milk costs $1.50-$2.00 more per gallon, and we drink about 4 gallons per week. If I bake my own bread, I can more than make up for the added cost ($6-8/week).

Some additional considerations:
If I used sourdough, my homemade bread might be cheaper.

In winter, having the oven on would make the heater work less.

I buy my yeast in bulk, which makes a huge difference in cost. 4 tsp. of yeast is about 2 of the little packets - which would cost around .66 instead of $.09. I buy 2 lb. packages at Sam's club, and keep it in the fridge.

I think I'll post that $9 number on the fridge as an incentive!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/17/2008 08:35:00 AM | Permalink | |