Saturday, December 17, 2011

Frugal Friday: Is Making Homemade Bread Saving Me Money?

For those of you who have always wondered (like I have) whether it really is cost effective to make your own bread, I’ve done an analysis on it. To start with, let’s look at raw ingredients… In the recipe below, I’ve included the cost of each ingredient. The low estimate (in blue) is based on what I usually pay (when ingredients to go on sale and buying in bulk). The high estimate (in red) is based on actually prices taken from WinCo foods today (on December 13, 2011).

Whole Wheat Bread (Makes three 1.5-lb loaves)
3 C. hot water, microwave on high 2-3 min or until quite warm – FREE!!
1/3 C. oil – {Ranges from $0.10 to $0.14}
1/3 C. sugar – {Ranges from $0.07 to $0.09}
1 Tbsp. salt (put in first before adding yeast) - {$0.01}
3 C.+ freshly ground whole wheat flour (hard white wheat) – I measured last time and I use about 5 Cups of Hard White Wheat in this recipe…{Ranges from $0.70 to $1.12}
2 Tbsp yeast on top of flour {Ranges from $0.04 to $0.05}
½ C. gluten flour {Ranges from $0.28 to $0.32}
½ C. ground flax seed (optional) {$0.13}
Combine above ingredients in Bosch mixer with dough hook and mix. Add more whole wheat flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Then mix for an additional six minutes. Divide dough into 3 loaves (the dough will still be VERY sticky - so sticky that you won't be able to form your loaves without putting oil on your hands). Let rise until double or fills the bread pans. Bake 400 deg. for 5 min., 350 deg. for 25 min or until done.

Total cost of three 1.5-lb loaves of bread ranges from $1.33 to $1.86
Total cost of one 1.5-lb loaf of bread ranges from $0.44 to $0.62

(Electricity has not been included yet…if you want to see the total cost, see below…)

For those of you who are wondering where I got these numbers and want to see the full analysis, read on! But I’m warning you, there’s math involved and conversions! Which I love, but you may not…so…I apologize in advance.

Cost of Home-made Bread Full Analysis
For three 1.5 lb loaves of Bread
High Price taken from WinCo on December 13, 2011

A {1 Qt +1 pt} container of Store Brand Canola Oil = $2.50
{1 Qt + 1 pt} = 6 Cups
6 Cups = 18/3 Cups (We use 1/3 Cup in this recipe)
$2.50/18 = $0.14

I’ve seen Gallon containers of Canola oil go on sale for as low as $5.
1 Gal. = 16 Cups
16 Cups = 48/3 Cups
$5/48 = $0.10

A 2 lb. bag of Store Brand brown sugar = $1.24 (I like to use brown sugar because it gives the bread a little more flavor)
There are about 227 tsp. servings in 2 lbs. of brown sugar
3 tsp. = 1 Tbsp.
227 tsp. = 75.67 Tbsp.
16 Tbsp. = 1 Cup
75.67 Tbsp. = 4.73 Cups in 2 lbs. of brown sugar
4.73 = 14.19/3 Cups (We use 1/3 Cup in this recipe)
$1.24/14.19 = $0.09

I’ve seen 2 lb. packages of brown sugar go on sale for as low as $0.99.
$0.99/14.19 = $0.07

Hopefully you already expect this to be really cheap…But in case you don’t…
A {1 lb. +10 oz.} container of store brand salt costs $0.44.
There are about 491 servings of salt in each package at ¼ tsp. each.
491/4 tsp. = 122.75 tsp.
3 tsp. = 1 Tbsp.
122.75 tsp = 40.92 Tbsp. (We use 1 Tbsp. in this recipe)
$0.44/40.92 =$0.01

I won’t analyze cheaper although I have seen salt go a lot cheaper than $0.44, but most of us don’t count our pennies that particularly...

WinCo has bulk food bins and their wheat costs $0.51/lb. for hard red. I didn’t see hard white, but it’s usually comparable priced…

1 Cup = about .44 lbs. of wheat (I measured this the other night)
5 Cups = about 2.19 lbs. of wheat
2.19 lbs x $0.51/lb = $1.12

It’s a lot cheaper to buy wheat in bulk. I can usually get a 50 lb. bag of wheat for about $16 or less when it goes on sale.

50 lbs = 22.83/2.19 lbs (We use about 2.19 lbs. in this recipe)
$16/22.83 = $0.70

Instant yeast was $3.18/lb in their bulk bins.
1 C = about .25 lbs of yeast (I measured this the other night)
16 Tbsp = 1 Cup
1 Tbsp = .015 lbs. (We use 1 Tbsp. in this recipe)
.015 lbs x $3.18/lb = $0.05

I’ve seen a 1 lb. package of instant yeast on sale go as low as $2.50
.015 lbs x $2.50/lb = $0.04

Gluten Flour
Gluten Flour cost $2.56/lb in their bulk bins.
½ Cup = .125 lbs (I measured this the other night – we use ½ cup in this recipe)
.125 lbs. x $2.56/lb. = $0.32

Online you can get a 25 lb. bag for $56.60 here.

That is equivalent to $2.26/lb.
.125 lbs. x $2.26/lb. = $0.28

Ground Flax Seed
I like to add this in my bread – it gives the bread a great texture and adds more nutrition!
Golden Flax seed costs $1/lb at WinCo (I buy the seed there and then just grind it in my blender)
½ Cup = .125 lbs (I measured this the other night – we use ½ cup in this recipe)
.125 lbs. x $1/lb. = $0.13

I won’t compare prices for flax seed because it’s not something you really want to buy in bulk due to the high oil content – it’s better just to buy it as needed!

So to summarize again…
The total cost of three 1.5-lb loaves of bread ranges from $1.33 to $1.86. The total cost of one 1.5-lb loaf of bread ranges from $0.44 to $0.62. For raw ingredients.

So…what about electricity you wonder…how much would it really add to the cost?…okay…we’ll add it and see.

According to my last electric bill I’m being charged about $0.10 per kWh (kilowatt hour) for electricity that I’ve used. I checked and my oven uses 7.9 KW so it costs $0.79 per hour to run. When I make bread I use it for about 45 minutes (15 minutes preheating time) so that’s about $0.59 added cost to all three loaves making the total cost range adjusted now to $1.92 to $2.45. Dividing this by 3, the new total cost of one 1.5-lb loaf of bread ranges from $0.64 to $0.82.

So is it cost effective? Well I guess if you want to know that you’d have to compare the price of what you would purchase a loaf of the same size for at a grocery store.

Pulling out my handy-dandy ads for the week, I see that Grandma Sycamore’s bread is on sale at my local grocery store for 2 for $4. It’s a 24 oz. loaf (which if you do the math is equivalent to my loaf size of 1.5 lbs.). So I can save between $1.18 and $1.36 per loaf by making my bread at home rather than buying Grandma Sycamore’s bread. Our family eats about 3 loaves a week. That’s a weekly savings of between $3.54 and $4.08. With 52 weeks in a year, that’s a yearly savings of between $184.08 and $212.16. I’m actually saving even more if you consider regular price instead of sale price.

Of course to find the real cost effectiveness for you, you’d have to take the cost of the loaf of bread you normally purchase. For me, I don’t buy cheap bread cause I can’t stand to eat it…that leads me to give an analysis on nutrition, but I’ll have to save that one for later...

So in conclusion, Yes! When you make homemade bread you are saving money! Even if you don’t shop sales and just buy ingredients at regular cost, you’ll still save money! So go for it! It’s worth it in more ways than one!


ejemory said...

I was glad to see your analysis of bread costs. I participated in the Utahns Against Hunger Food Stamp Challenge in November (feed one person for one week on $28). I made bread to save money and had to track the costs. I came up with .56 a loaf because I used the simplest recipe I could find that called for flour, salt, yeast, and water. It was time-consuming, but eye-opening to have to put that much thought into what I eat.

B&H said...

what she's not mentioning too is that her bread tastes way better than what you find in the store! So, in addition to saving money, you can get a much better taste and texture out of it as well. Can't wait for the nutrition analysis!

Anna M said...

I love your analysis! My challenge is that the homemade bread tastes so much better, we eat it more than 2x faster!

Heather {Healthy Family Cookin} said...

Thanks B&H! :)

I agree that is a challenge Anna! But it's a good one because it means they're eating healthy food and loving it! :)

Anonymous said...

I did the same comparison a couple of years ago. Every week I would put the money I had saved by making my own bread into a special account. After about a year, I had enough to buy a Bosch Mixer. Then last year, I accumulated enough to buy a grain grinder.
Love your site!


Anonymous said...

I found a bread savings calculator at

which makes the calculating easy.


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