Many times I am asked if it is cheaper to make bread or to buy it. There are a lot of factors that go into this, but it is cheaper to make your own depending on what kind you make and how much you pay for your ingredients.
1. What kind of bread are you wanting to make? If you make an overnight Artisan bread, the cost is really cheap. The ingredients are very basic and are things you would have around your home in most cases. If you choose another type of bread, for example one using molasses, if you have to buy the molasses as well as other ingredients you don't have then it may be cheaper just to buy the bread. As an experienced baker, I don't worry about not having molasses; I just substitute with something I have on hand like brown sugar, honey or white sugar if necessary.
2. Are you very good at making bread? I look at bread making the same as quilting. If you are pretty good, you can do a much better job than buying something from a store. If you are a beginner, it may be cheaper and taste better to buy it from a store. But, everyone has to start somewhere and if you look at it as a learning thing, where you progress a little at a time, then you will get through the brick wheat bread loaves and learn to make a beautiful loaf of wheat bread. Do you enjoy it? Do you want to learn? If it is something you are interested in, then the money you spend on ingredients is totally worth the failures you may have. Lessons for music are about $15 for a half hour. Compare it to that.
3. Do you like knowing what is in your bread? Take a minute the next time you go to the store and see what the ingredients are in their bread. Do you want to eat homemade bread that is fresh and you know exactly what is in it, or do you want to just eat the bread from the store with all of its preservatives. You can probably tell that I am biased. I feel the same way about a garden. I want to know what is in my food as much as possible, and by doing it myself I know exactly what I am eating.
4. Many people say that they don't have the time to make bread. Well, if you are home for an evening or a few hours, you can start a batch of bread and go do the things you want while it rises. Frankly, I don't think it takes more than 10-20 minutes of actual time with the bread between mixing the ingredients and shaping it. You don't have to stand in the kitchen for two hours watching it rise or bake. I just set a timer and go do other things until the timer goes off. If you take the time to go to the store to buy bread, you spend about the same time to get it, plus you may end up spending more money because you buy a few extra things. If I run out of bread, I just make more. I don't have to worry about going out to the store just to get a loaf.
5. Comparing homemade bread to cheap store bought bread is an unfair comparison. If you make homemade bread, it should be compared to bread bought at a bakery such as Kneaders, Great Harvest, etc. Compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. Cheap store bought bread just can't match good bakery bread. In addition, you realize just how much money you save by making it yourself.
6. Another thing I like about homemade bread is that I have freedom to do whatever I want. I can make French rolls for hamburger buns, wheat bread for toast, or Lion house rolls for a special dinner. I can use up blueberries that have been in the fridge for a while in homemade muffins. If I have raspberries or blackberries, I can use them instead if I want to. If I have ripe bananas, I can make muffins or banana bread. I make whatever I want. I am not limited in any way. I can use real butter and quality ingredients. I love my freedom to do whatever I want to do.
7. The most important thing is to figure out what works for you. I have saved hundreds of dollars making my own bread. For me, it isn't about the cost any more. Even though I make homemade bread for less money than buying it, I wouldn't care if it cost more. We love homemade bread. It is worth the effort spent. We have been spoiled having homemade bread and we don't want to go back to buying stuff from a store.
If you are wanting to make bread, but don't feel ready to make the commitment, one of the other Spendwise Moms bought a bread machine where you put all of the ingredients in and it kneads, rises and bakes itself. You don't have to worry about anything after you push the start button. It is a good compromise if you want the taste of homemade bread, but you don't want to do much work to get it.
Finding a good recipe makes a difference. Here are a few recipes that are really good:
Overnight Artisan Bread This recipe is easy and perfect for people who have never made bread.
Lion House Rolls
Whole Wheat Rolls
Outback Steakhouse Bread