The cost of making homemade bread doesn’t simply lie in a handful of ingredients, there’s electricity and equipment to consider too. Yet, if you’re a busy person, time and effort can be just, or even more valuable than your ingredients! Considering this, it is pretty fun! So do you think it’s still worth it to make your own bread at home? Let’s find out!
The ingredients needed to make basic bread work out cheaper than buying bread in store. But the electricity and time needed to make one loaf can make baking your own more expensive. Still, making your own bread has lots of benefits and flexibility that you won’t get from buying in stores. To lower the cost of making bread, make a few loaves at a time.
The cost of store-bought breads
The cost of a loaf of bread depends on the type and brand you buy. An average whole wheat loaf costs about $2-$2.50. While healthy and fermented breads like sourdough can go for around $3-5. The gluten-free variety made with decent ingredients will set you back anywhere from 5 to 7 bucks per loaf.
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How much does it cost to make a loaf of homemade bread?
First, let’s discuss the prices of ingredients used to make bread. We are making a 1 ½ lb loaf using 1 lb of flour. This is good for about 8-10 slices, depending on the thickness that you prefer. Excluded here are any extra ingredients or toppings that you might want to include in yours.
Also, as most of you guys are from the US, I’ve given you Yanks a treat by using dollars in calculating the information in this post. Rest assured, it doesn’t matter where you are. The working out is the same. Please note that the results from this computation will vary depending on your location.
A pound of King Arthur flour can cost about a dollar. It’s a good thing that their whole wheat and bread flour are almost at the same price. There are lots of flours cheaper than this, but I’m told this one makes good bread so let’s use it. So flour costs $1 a loaf.
Another important ingredient in bread is yeast. In supermarkets, a 1/2 ounce of yeast costs about $1.50. But at King Arthur, a whole pound of red star instant yeast costs about $6. This is enough to make up to 96 loaves of bread, which means the yeast costs about 6 cents a loaf.
Computing the electricity consumption is probably one of the most varying factors. This varies on where you live and what type of oven you are using. But let’s say that you’re in the US and you have a 2600 watt oven. The cost of a kilowatt-hour is 10 cents. So if your oven is running for an hour, it’s going to be at 26 cents.
It usually takes about two hours to bake one loaf of bread. That’s because it takes at least one hour to preheat an oven with a baking stone or Dutch oven till they reach full temperature. Let’s put electricity at 52 cents.
The next ingredients, butter, and oil, mainly depend on the recipe you’re making. But if you’re just going to use a couple of tablespoons of butter and a dash of oil, it won’t cost you more than 10 cents a loaf for these extra ingredients.
A few more things are salt, sugar, and water. These are a bit hard to compute because you’re not really going to use that much. So let’s just say that these basic ingredients cost about 15 cents.
Total cost for a loaf in a single batch:
|Butter and oil||$0.10|
|Salt, water, and sugar||$0.15|
These will give you a total of $1.83 for a basic loaf that’s made with love.
Of course, these prices don’t include the time and effort you’re going to put into making your bread. Most especially the thinking process and the aftermath of cleaning the dishes. But these efforts are going to give you certain satisfaction and versatility that you won’t get from buying in stores.
How to lower the cost of making your own bread
Making more than one loaf at a time can dramatically reduce the costs of making bread at home. The main saving here is not waiting for the oven to heat up each time. Two of these loaves should be able to fit in the oven at one time. Alternatively you could make larger loaves of bread, providing they will be eaten!
Research how to store bread, so you don’t end up throwing any of your bread away. You could also treat a friend or neighbour with your baked bread! Nobody seems to say no to bread!
Total cost per batch of 4 loaves:
|Butter and oil||$0.40|
|Salt, water, and sugar||$0.60|
As you can see we’ve lowered the cost of producing a loaf of bread to $1.48.
This could reduce further if you wanted to make bigger batches, or even use the oven to make pizza or cook dinner afterwards.
Save money buying ingredients cheap
One good way to save money by making bread at home is to buy it in bulk. The more you buy, the better the price that you can get. Getting the right proportion of ingredients that will last you a few months is always better than buying them every week.
A good investment for this is transferring your ingredients into an air-tight container. It prevents ingredients from getting air and moisture, so they can last longer.
See my how to store flour article for more information.
Another tip is to start growing sprouts and make sprouted breads at your home! The cost of sprouting your own grains is really cheap and you can use them in recipes that you want to make. It might sound weird at first, but the taste actually isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s pretty nutritious.
Advantages of making your own bread
There’s more to making your own bread than saving money. With our tendency to always be busy with work, family, social lives and love island, it’s hard to fit it in. But it’s an enjoyable hobby too, there’s a great satisfaction seeing something you made turn into something good.
Watching freshly baked dough rise into the perfect loaf is second to none. Not to mention that kneading the dough can be a great way to release stress and anxiety. Here are a few other points:
- The ability to include and exclude ingredients. Making your own bread can let you choose what ingredients you’re going to put into it. You can easily replace the ingredients that you don’t like with the ones that you really prefer. This is also great for people with dietary preferences like gluten allergies or vegan
- The assurance that it’s clean and contains fresh ingredients. As you have the ability to call the shots, you can rest assured that everything you put is clean and fresh. You know how old your bread is, and you don’t have to worry if the bread’s been sitting in the bakery for quite some time.
- The flexibility to adjust the taste. The fate, or should I say the taste of your bread lies upon you. If you wish to add or remove nuts and other ingredients to make bread unique, it’s all up to you. You can adjust the sweetness, texture, as well as other flavors that you won’t be able to do in store bought breads.
Are there advantages to buying store-bought bread?
The main advantage of store-bought breads is the convenience! (Well, unless there’s an extra-long line in the store.) It’s already prepared, so you don’t have to spend time measuring out ingredients. You also don’t need to wait for the dough to rise. The thought process is also out of the picture anymore. But definitely the best thing is the absence of mess that you need to clean afterwards!
Why should you make your own bread?
Probably the best answers to this question depend on your purpose of baking bread and the amount of your consumption.
– Fresh warm bread
If you want fresh, delicious whole grains, then making your own bread is great. Bread that’s made from scratch from whole-grain flour is much more nutritious than store bought breads. Plus, it can taste better and will leave your home smelling great! So if you want a warm loaf of fresh bread out of the oven every day don’t hesitate to get started!
– Cost effective in batches
If you have a lot of people at your house and bread is a staple for you, then you should consider making your own bread. It can be very cost-effective to make your own bread and save money in the long run.
But if you’re just one or two people at home, store bought bread may be the better option for you. Homemade bread won’t last that long unless properly frozen and of course who wants to eat stale bread?
– Diet control
If you’re on a diet, may it be for allergies or weight loss, homemade breads are definitely the way to go. As you can tweak every ingredient according to your preference.
– Health reasons
Most breads that we buy aren’t that great for us. They still have a lot of preservatives and hidden ingredients that you don’t need or want to eat. This is especially true where low-cost loaves are made in rapid time.
Some store bought “artisan” breads are often not great for you either. They are sometimes baked at the factory, frozen and then reheated in-store. These loaves will go stale by the evening. Other types can simply not be artisan at all and full of the usual improvers that low cost loaves contain. If you make your own bread from scratch you can avoid all of this!
Can I save money by making bread at home?
Definitely! Not just in the pocket, but you’ll also be providing your family with fresh food and yourself a cool little hobby. Most of my loaves take about 15 minutes of hands-on work when I use a mixer. So there is no excuse! Let’s see you baking!