Exploring Frugality: DIY Bread

We were conveniently running out of bread when I got inspired to make our own. Recently our budget has tightened a bit, so making our own bread seemed to be the smart frugal thing to do!

Do you make your own bread? What’s your favourite recipe? : )

We’ve had a breadmaker for years and of the two recipes we’ve tried, our favourite was the corn fritter bread (the other was raisin bread). However, I’ve significantly cut down on dairy and corn (and raisins), so we opted for a whole new recipe (‘my God!).

Out of curiosity, since we’ve got frugality on our minds, we decided to calculate how much it cost to make our own bread (whole grain honey and oatmeal; recipe after this money rambling).

Ingredient Rate Amount Amount in kg Cost
Butter $6.54/kg 2 tbsp 0.028 kg $0.18
Bread Flour $2.19/kg 2.25 cups 0.286 kg $0.63
Whole Wheat Flour $2.85/kg 1 cup 0.120 kg $0.34
Honey $10/kg 1.5 tbsp 0.120 kg $0.34
Quick Cook Oats $2.97/kg 0.5 cup 0.045 kg $0.13
Active Dry Yeast $37.80/kg 2 tsp 0.017 kg $0.64
TOTAL $2.25

We ran the breadmaker (spec: 560W 120V) for 3 hours during off-peak hours (7.5¢/kWh), which came out to be about $0.13. So, this bread cost us a total of $2.38 to make. The recipe was for a 1.5lb bread, so it’s ~$2.38/680g = $0.35/100g. At the time of writing, the cost of a Dempster’s Whole Grains Honey & Oatmeal Bread was $2.58/600g = $0.43/100g. So it only saved us ~10¢/100g.

Honey and oatmeal homemade bread named Randall.
Randall the bread with his bottom half hacked off. On the dirtiest baking sheet in the world. No apologies.

However, the dimensions of my breadmaker made it a much taller bread than your average grocery store’s. I was only able to get 10 slices (my shitty cutting skills), whereas grocery store bread is probably closer to 20. As such, we finished my bread faster than usual (i.e. had to spend money for a second loaf). Looks like homemade bread is only worth it if your breadmaker can make longer loaves.


Now I know this tiny experiment didn’t consider many factors (e.g. on my side: not the simplest bread recipe, labour costs, apartment rent…; on the factory side: salaries, equipment rental and maintenance, delivery/truck costs, grocery store shelf rental…), but strictly looking at the amount of money an individual can save, it looks like making your own bread doesn’t save much. You can save ~10¢/100g.

What if it’s not about the money?

There are pros to making your own bread though! Here are a few I could think of:

  • You know exactly what’s in your food.
  • If using a breadmaker, you can bask in the illusion of having put lots of effort into making your own bread!
  • If making by hand, then it’s not an illusion, and you will have impressive biceps!
  • Your house will smell very nice for most of the day.
  • While baking, it would make the room (house?) feel warmer and cozier.
  • You can toss in a handful of random things (think: cranberries, nuts, chocolate chips) to make any recipe a little fancier!
  • Economical but much appreciated gift for friends and family! They’d be less impressed if you gave them a loaf of grocery store bread. :p

Any other pros to making your own bread?

Cons (for the devil’s advocate)

  • Washing stuff.
  • Slicing it yourself.
  • The risk of messing up the recipe and wasting the ingredients(!!!).
  • Lots of prep time (buying ingredients, tossing in breadmaker, washing, slicing..).
  • Might make the room (house?) too warm in the summertime.

What are some horror stories you have of bread making? (if such a thing exists :p)

DIY Honey and grain bread
All $2.25’s worth of bread ingredients.

The Promised Recipe!

Honey Grain Bread (1.5lb)
8-10 oz Water
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Butter or margarine
1.5 Tbsp Honey
2.25 cups Whole wheat bread flour
1 cup Whole wheat flour
0.5 cups Quick cook oats
2 tsp Active dry yeast

Measure all ingredients into the bread pan in order. Select Basic setting, Medium crust.

Update April 7, 2016: Higher res feature image of my awesome breadmaker! Name tbd.









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