Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why It's Worth It To Bake Your Own Bread

I've been a bread-baker for a long time; I've been cranking out homemade loaves for well over a decade now. We eat store-bought bread so infrequently that my kids protest whenever I pull out one of those purchased-on-sale-and-stashed-in-the-freezer emergency loaves for those times when I fall behind on my breadmaking schedule. They're so used to the freshly baked goodness of a homemade loaf that the store-bought stuff is vastly inferior in their eyes.
So, making your own bread is definitely worth it just from a quality perspective. Heck, it might even be worth it just because of the way it makes your house smell! That being said, there's no denying the financial advantages of home baked bread. I've always known that making my own bread saved a lot of money, however until recently I hadn't bothered to calculate the exact savings. 

Here's the cost breakdown for a batch of my Whole Wheat Refrigerator Dough (which makes 3 loaves of bread):

5 tsp yeast (purchased in bulk) = 28.8 cents
1/2 cup sugar = 11 cents
1 cup mashed potatoes = 12.6 cents
1/2 cup canola oil = 24 cents
1 egg = 17 cents
3 tbsp ground flax seed (purchased in bulk) = 5.5 cents
1 1/2 tsp salt = 1.4 cents
4 cups whole wheat flour (purchased in bulk) = 33.6 cents
3 1/2 cups white flour (purchased in bulk) = 30.8 cents

Total cost for a batch = $1.65, or 55 cents per loaf.

In comparison, a loaf of decent-quality bread costs $1.99 on sale, and it doesn’t go on sale for that price very often. Since our family of four generally goes through the equivalent of 6 loaves of bread per week (or 24 loaves a month), it’s difficult to stockpile enough in the freezer to get us through from one sale to the next (plus I’d rather dedicate that freezer space to other items). 

Monthly cost savings of making my own bread:
24 loaves of sale priced bread @ 1.99/loaf = $47.76
24 loaves of homemade bread @ 0.55/loaf = $13.20

$47.76 - $13.20 = $34.56
Now, if you have a very large grocery budget you might not find that a huge savings. On our modest grocery budget of $375 a month, a nearly $35 savings per month on a single food item is huge - that's nearly 10% of our total budget!

Making bread using my refrigerator dough method is easy and convenient, and for our family it is well worth the minimal effort involved. It's also an activity I enjoy doing, and it even makes a great gift.

Do you make your own bread? If not, have I convinced you to give it a shot?


  1. Homemade bread is so worth the time and effort, both in taste and cost. Nice post.


  2. I just got an automatic bread maker and love it! We started making our own bread and were wondering if we were actually saving any money. Thanks for showing us that we are!

  3. I started making homemade bread a few years ago with a bread machine, but it was so much preferred over store bread that it would be gone in a day. Then I started making sandwich buns which is now the only thing my husband and son will take in their lunches. It wasn't long before the machine was in daily use, and I decided it was time to learn how to knead so I could make larger batches. Now I use my stand mixer and make the equivalent of eight loaves a week. We think it would be worthwhile even if it cost the same as buying it. All I buy now is specialty breads to stash in the freezer when they hit the clearance rack at Superstore. Thank you for posting the cost breakdown. We did a similar, but rounded up breakdown on the peaches and pears we canned last summer after seeing 1L jars priced at 6.59 in the store last night. Our cost was about $80, but if we had bought the commercially jarred fruit from the store it would have been closer to $300! I think showing the savings realized over the course of a month or year is a really good eye opener, and proves that you can live well on far less money than many seem to think. Congrats on your food budget, by the way, ours is about $25 higher, but kids are teens and one weight trains.


  4. I agree that homemade bread would totally be worth it even if there were no cost savings! It's just so much higher quality than store bought. I love the whole process of making it, too - I find kneading to be highly therapeutic :)

    I think bread machines are a reasonable solution for singles and couples (and certainly a great way to get hooked on homemade bread!) As Karen pointed out, when you've got an entire family going through many loaves a week, it starts to become the less-efficient option and baking multiple loaves at a time by hand is a more effective solution.

    I should note that my cost breakdown assumes you're buying the ingredients in bulk at their lowest price. Buying in smaller quantities, the cost can go up significantly, particularly for yeast - those little packets at the grocery store are incredibly expensive, you definitely need to buy it in bulk (even then, it's still one of the most expensive ingredients in the recipe).

  5. Im so glad i found this blog! I love making bread. I was a bit skeptical at first because people kept telling me how difficult and time consuming it was. After a couple of failed batches, I find it quite simple and very relaxing to make my bread. Its a bit of a comfort to know that i can take very few ingredients and make such a delicious dietary staple without having to get out of my Pj's


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