is making your own bread cheaper than buying it?

1116928_breadHow many times have you heard it? Make your own bread and save money. I’m pretty sure I’ve written it myself.

But is making your own bread cheaper?

Well, I’ve done some baking and some measuring and some calculating and I now have the conclusive, final answer to the question is making your own bread is cheaper

It depends.

The truth is that there are so many variables and so many points of comparison that depending on your bread buying and eating habits and how you bake your bread, making your own can save you money. Or it might not.

So I’m going to compare our bread making and buying habits to show you how I make the comparison and how much we are saving…if anything.

I inherited my dad’s bread making machine and for the last six months we have made pretty much all our own bread. Nothing fancy, just a couple of basic loaves made according to the manufacturers instruction booklet (with some alterations – I don’t bother with ‘bread improver’ for example).

Prior to making our own bread we would buy Woolworths home brand bread for $1.09 or breads that have been marked down at the end of the evening. We never paid more than $1.60 for a loaf of bread.

Here’s the comparison of a 700g homemade loaf with a Woolworths home brand equivalent. As a side note, I use normal plain flour and add gluten flour. Adding gluten flour gives me flexibility with the flours I use (wholemeal and sometimes I add spelt or buckwheat) over bread mixes or bread flours and I can just use the plain flour I already have in the cupboard. I calculated the cost to be very similar to using bread mix.

Ingredients Store 
White
Homemade white Store wholemeal Homemade wholemeal Store multigrain Homemade wholemeal w/ seeds
Flour   27c   36c   36c
Gluten   33c   33c   33c
Sugar   2c   2c   2c
Salt   <1c   <1c   <1c
Oil   24c   24c   49c
Yeast   10c   10c   10c
Linseeds           30c
Sesame seeds           27c
Sunflower seeds           36c
Electricity   45c   45c   45c
Total $1.09 $1.69 $1.59 $1.78 $1.98 $2.96

 

So, comparing the bread we make now to the bread we used to buy, we are not actually saving money.

BUT

The bread is better. We’ve improved the nutrition of our bread for only a few cents a loaf. Rather than eating white bread, we eat wholemeal and seeded bread for only a little extra. If we were to buy a similar quality bread to that which we make, it would cost us a lot more. Our homemade seed bread is probably closer in quality to the Burgen seed breads for $4.99, so we are saving $2.03 on that variety. In other words, while we are paying more than what we used to, it is for a healthier bread. If we had been buying healthier bread to start with, making our own bread would be saving us significant amounts of money. 

Here are some other variables to keep in mind that affect the overall value of making your own bread:

  • You’re in charge of the ingredients. You can pretty much put what you like in your bread. I borrowed 80 Recipes For Your Bread Maker the other day from the library and it was a revelation! It never occurred to me to make my own spiced fruit loaf, and I LOVE fruit loaf. And I’m keen on trying sundried tomato and olive bread.
  • You’re also in control of the quality of the ingredients. For instance, we use cold pressed olive oil as opposed to hydrogenated vegetable oils or omega-6 excessive polyunsaturated oils found in commercial breads.
  • You’re living in a bakery. The smell of warm, fresh bread is wonderful but very tempting and can mean you eat more than you would if you bought bread (except you get over this after a couple of weeks).
  • On the other hand, the days we forget to put a loaf on means we go without bread, which balances out our indulgences. Sometimes making your own bread can be just another task in an already stressful day.
  • It’s hard to cut thin slices which means the bread doesn’t go as far as a pre-sliced loaf.
  • No preservatives means that the bread is healthier, but doesn’t last as long as store bought bread.
  • Our bread tastes better. I actually like wholemeal bread when I bake it myself and our favourite is with the seeds – the sunflower seeds give the bread a nutty-sweet flavour.

If you want to make the calculations for yourself, here’s how I did it.

  1. Convert your measurements into grams using this website. For example, converting 3 cups of plain flour into grams equals 298.10 grams. For things like seeds, you may need to find an approximate equivalent.
  2. Calculate the per gram cost of your ingredients. For example, we pay $1.85 for 2kg of flour. $1.85 / 2000g = 0.000925 per gram.
  3. Multiply the per gram cost of each ingredient by the grams that you use for making bread. For example, 3 cups of plain flour is 298.10 grams x 0.000925 = 27.6c.
  4. Add the total cost of all ingredients.
  5. Calculate the electricity cost and add this to the total. You will need the wattage of the appliance (on the bottom) and your latest electricity bill. Divide the cents per kilowatt from your bill by 1000 to get the amount per watt. Then multiply this by the hourly wattage on the machine. And again, multiply this by the number of hours to bake a loaf. For example our electricity is 19c per kilowatt which equals 0.00019 per watt x 650 watts x 3 hours = 37c (plus a little extra for good measure and the use of the timer). For various reasons, this is an approximate amount, but it will be a slight over estimate rather than an under estimate. You can add a couple of cents if you like to be sure.

While we are actually spending more on bread than we used to, we are eating better quality bread. We have ‘intended’ to eat more nutritious bread for a long time, but at $5 a loaf it’s been too expensive. Now we can eat healthier bread for less.

SAVE MONEY AND TIME ON THE GROCERIES

THE FRUGAL AND THRIVING WAY

Comments

9 Responses to “is making your own bread cheaper than buying it?”
  1. clo says:

    great point. I like to make our bread but I have to be honest I ending up eating way too much of it. I did the dough for the Hot Cross Buns in the breadmaker and they were fab. a spiced fruit loaf does sound good!

  2. Melissa says:

    Ooh, I really have to try to do dough in the breadmaker! On the to do list… I never thought of doing hot cross bun dough in it – thanks for the idea!

  3. sue says:

    I’m the only one here that eats seeded wholemeal bread. It would be cheaper for me to buy a loaf now and again. I do make the occasional loaf as I feel it’s a healthier option. Melissa, don’t forget you can also make jam in your breadmaker. Maa.

  4. Melissa says:

    Hi Maa, thanks for the tip on the jam. Thinking it would be very nice to have homemade jam on homemade bread!

  5. Sharon says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I also make my own bread in the breadmaker but use the premix box of four at the moment. That way I can choose the type of bread I want to make. I cut and freeze my loaf that day so I can just defrost or toast the bread as required. Cost wise it is about the same as the supermarket but convenience is what I want. It is handy to have a box in the cupboard and it got me through when we couldn’t get any bread here for a week during the January floods.

    I also make pizza dough in my breadmaker using the book that came with it and made hot cross buns to the dough stage at Easter. I just adapted a recipe and put everything in order as per the breadmaker’s instructions. They turned out fabulously and the smell was wonderful. I am going to try buns again this week as I have eaten all of them. lol

    My mother also makes jam in her breadmaker and it can make pasta as well, so all round they are a very handy appliance.

  6. Melissa says:

    Hi Sharon, our breadmaker kept us in bread during the floods too! That’s when I really appreciated the fact we made it ourselves rather than having to buy it. You’re all convincing me that I am way under-utilising our machine.

    The other great thing about our breadmaker is that we can use it while the little fella is awake (’cause it’s safely out of reach), where as the oven is still too dangerous to use in our tiny kitchen. Although we’ve taught him not to touch the oven, he still wobbles and falls against it occasionally. I really need to use the bread machine more!

  7. Astrid says:

    Use a bread maker here. Mostly use bread mix, but also use the maker for pizza dough and the occasional speciality bread.

    Very handy out here as it is not a quick drive or walk to the shop and I don’t have to try and work out how much bread to buy for the week. We don’t have the freezer space so we cannot freeze extra loaves.

    I find we eat less with it. Yes, the slices are thicker, but for something like eggs on toast, we just use one slice rather than two. Also due to having to make it, I find I choose to eat less and it forces hubby to eat less. Have a loaf of sliced in the house and I find he is always snacking on it. Apart from healthier loaves, eating less bread over all is better for us.

  8. Melissa says:

    Hi Astrid, Good point. DH doesn’t eat as much bread now either. I love an egg on toast and have taken to using only half a slice for my goog to cut down on bread.

  9. Rosie says:

    I love that you’ve worked out how much each loaf is costing AND shown us how to do it too. I live in a very remote area and in our one shop, the bread is $4.69 a loaf (that’s the cheapest) and never fresh. I picked up a bread maker at a garage sale for $10 and have been buying bread mix which is costing me $2.27 a loaf. It tastes so much nicer, there’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread in your house, and it’s FRESH. My family is loving it :)

Comments