Does homemade bread really save money? Is it worth it to make your own bread? We will hash out all the costs and other details so you can decide for yourself!
I often get asked if making homemade bread is really cheaper than just buying bread. There are lots of factors to take into consideration when deciding which DIY projects and homemade products you’re going to take on.
In the very beginning of our journey to pay off six figures of student loan debt in a hurry, we cut out absolutely every expense we could, including buying bread. For years, I made my own bread once or twice a week. We didn’t buy bread from the store.
Then, when I was pregnant with my youngest (who is now nearly two), I started buying bread. I felt kind of guilty about it (mostly when I would see traffic from my blog post about how homemade bread is helping us pay off our debt), but I just couldn’t manage to stay upright for long enough to make bread when I had higher priorities for the times when I felt well.
Over and over I get readers who ask, “Is homemade bread really cheaper or do you just like it better?”
Today I’m going to do the price breakdown for my standard sandwich bread recipe and then I’ll talk about a few other factors I take into consideration.
- 3 cups hot water (110-120 degrees)
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
- 8 cups wheat flour (divided 3 cups, 5 cups)
Price Breakdown for Homemade Bread
I’m guessing that if you are interested in the price of homemade bread then you are a frugal person who is a smart shopper. Since we don’t have an Aldi (the nearest one is 5 hours away), I shop at Winco. Their prices are the best in the area.
Wheat Flour/Freshly Ground Wheat
Freshly Ground Wheat Flour
I grind my own wheat (with the help of my wheat grinder, of course) instead of buying wheat flour. In Winco’s bulk foods section, wheat berries cost $.45/pound.
One pound of wheat berries is about 2.25 cups of wheat berries, which means each cup of wheat berries costs about $.20.
Each cup of wheat berries makes about 1.5 cups of flour, which means each cup of home-ground flour costs about $.13
My recipe calls for about 8 cups.
—> $1.04 for 8 cups of flour (freshly ground)
If you don’t have a wheat grinder, you can buy bags of ready-made wheat flour. You can get a 5 lb bag (18.75 cups) for $3.54, which is $.19 per cup.
—> $1.52 for 8 cups of flour
Yeast is one of the groceries that I buy at Sam’s Club. I took the price from Amazon since I don’t know the Sam’s Club price off the top of my head. If I remember right, though, it’s about $5 for two of these packages. I’ll use the Amazon price in this illustration though, even though I’m fairly certain it’s more expensive than what I buy.
$7.69 for 1 lb (48 Tablespoons) = $.16 per Tablespoon
—>$.24 for 1 1/2 Tablespoons
I use normal canola oil in my bread.
$1.88 for 48 ounces (96 Tablespoons) = $.02 per Tablespoon
—>$.10 for 1/3 cup (5 Tablespoons)
My recipe works fine with honey or brown sugar. As you’ll see in the price comparison, it’s significantly cheaper with brown sugar, but if you are particular about the types of sugars you use, then honey is a great choice.
$1.28 for 2 lbs (226 teaspoons) =$.006 per teaspoon = $.018 per Tablespoon
—>$.05 for 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons)
$7.10 for 32 ounces (43 Tablespoons) = $.165 per Tablespoon
—>$1.32 for 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons)
$.50 for 1 pound (~26 Tablespoons) = $.02 per Tablespoon
—> $.02 for 1 Tablespoon of salt
Three cups of warm water is as good as free.
Total Cost of Homemade Bread
For 2 loaves of freshly ground whole wheat bread made with brown sugar (the least expensive way to make it), it costs about $1.45 or $.73 per loaf.
For 2 loaves of wheat bread (with store-bought flour) made with honey (the most expensive way to make it), is costs about $3.20 or $1.60 per loaf.
Comparing Homemade Bread to Store-Bought Bread
Whether homemade bread is cheaper or not depends on the kind of bread you make and the kind of bread you buy. I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, you can’t get any bread for less than a dollar per loaf. In that case, homemade bread is definitely cheaper.
Another big difference is that when I buy bread I often go cheap and get the $.99 loaves of wheat “air” bread. To buy loaves of bread at the store that are equivalent in quality and nutrition to what I make at home, it would cost $3-5 per loaf. When I’m buying for my family of 6 (who eats PBJs like it’s their job), that would add up fast!
The “While I’m Here” factor
Another factor to consider with buying bread is what I like to call the “while I’m here” factor. Bread and milk are the classic food items that trigger a trip to the store, but we never just get bread and milk. We always find sales and other things that we had forgotten that we need. The trip to the store invariably ends up costing more than the price of bread or milk.
If you are in the habit of making your own bread, then needing bread doesn’t trigger a trip to the store, which means you don’t buy all those things that you didn’t really need anyway.
Is homemade bread cheaper?
From a strictly numbers standpoint, making your own bread does cost less that pretty much any bread you’ll find at the store. That doesn’t mean that everyone should start making their own bread though.
Just like DIY projects, homemade household products, or canning your produce, there are more factors to consider in addition to the cost. When you take time, effort, and other factors into the equation, you may or many not have a good deal.
If you’d like to try it, the recipe I use is below. Once you’ve made it a time or two, you’ll get the routine and be able to multitask other kitchen cleaning or cooking while making your bread.
My kids LOVE having warm bread for a snack or with dinner. I have to be careful though, or they’ll eat it all!
- 3 cups warm/hot water (110-120 degrees)
- 1 Tablespoon Salt
- ⅓ cup oil
- ½ cup honey or brown sugar
- 1½ Tablesoons yeast
- 8 cups wheat flour (divided 3 cups, 5 cups)
- Mix the hot water with salt, oil, sweetener (honey or brown sugar), yeast, and 3 cups of flour.
- Allow to sit for 10 minutes (it should bubble slightly).
- Mix in 5 more cups of flour. Dough should form a ball and not stick to sides of bowl. Add a little more flour if it's overly sticky.
- If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook to knead the dough for 10 minutes. If mixing by hand, divide the dough in half and knead each dough ball 30-50 times on a floured surface.
- When dough has been kneaded, form two loaves and put into greased bread pans.
- Cover with a slightly moist tea towel and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes. If your house is cool or drafty, you can warm your oven slightly (then turn it off) and let your bread rise in the oven.
- After your bread has risen, remove it from the oven while you preheat the oven to 325. When oven is up to temperature, put bread in and bake for about 30 minutes. Loaves should be golden brown. Remove from pans immediately and allow to cool on a wire rack. I always check the bottom of the bread to make sure it's golden too.
- Butter the top of the loaves if desired. Not only does it look pretty, but it helps to keep the loaf soft and it's yummy!
- If you're curious about the price breakdown of this recipe, go to http://www.sixfiguresunder.com/is-homemade-bread-cheaper
How about you?
- Do you regularly make your own bread or buy it?
- Is making homemade bread worth it to you? Why or why not?
- How do you factor time into the equation?
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