How 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…
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.
|Homemade white||Store wholemeal||Homemade wholemeal||Store multigrain||Homemade wholemeal w/ seeds|
So, comparing the bread we make now to the bread we used to buy, we are not actually saving money.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the total cost of all ingredients.
- 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.
Melissa Goodwin has been writing about frugal living for 10+ year but has been saving her pennies since she first got pocket money. Prior to writing about frugal living, Melissa worked as an accountant. As well as a diploma of accounting, Melissa has an honours degree in humanities including writing and research and she studied to be a teacher and loves sharing the things that she has learned and helping others to achieve their goals. She has been preparing all her life to write about frugal living skills.