As I’ve mentioned, I have been baking a lot of bread recently. This is actually odd, because I used to hate bread with a passion. Until I baked my own, I only ate bread toasted or grilled, and even then it was rare for me to finish a loaf before it went stale. Now, Ace and I go through 3-4 loaves per week. I spend a good amount of time in the kitchen, and today I decided to see whether it was worthwhile financially.
First of all, I needed a basis for comparison. I’m eating better and more than I was before I started baking. If I compared my bread to the bread I wasn’t eating (cheap industrial loaves) it just wouldn’t work as a comparison. Artisan bread retails from $3.25 to $5.00, depending on the store and the quality of the bread.
I bought a 25 lbs bag of King Arthur all-purpose flour for $12 at Costco. I buy King Arthur whole wheat flour for $4.50 per 5lbs bag.
When I baked today, I used 1 cup of whole wheat ($0.27) and 4 cups all-purpose flour ($0.58).
The other ingredients are water, salt, yeast, and a pinch of semolina flour on top of the bread. These prices are as good as negligible, since the quantities are so small, but we’ll count them as $0.10, a rough estimate based on what I pay for yeast at City Market.
That comes to 95 cents per batch, which is two loaves.
But the time cost is another thing entirely. From start to finish, the bread took the better part of a day to make. This seems like a lot, but there is a lot of downtime in the process of baking. I also did dishes, mulched around my garden, played with a ferret, and wrote a blog entry. Total time actually working on bread: 30 minutes for two loaves.
If I value my time at $10 per hour, I spent $5.95 for two loaves of bread. That’s only $2.98 per loaf.
Add the $0.25 to keep the oven hot for the hour, and I come to $3.11 per loaf.
Even compared to the cheapest bread I would consider eating, this is worthwhile. Considering that I’m actually eating $4-5 loaves of bread (I bake good bread…) that’s at least a dollar’s worth of savings per loaf!
~The Homesteading Hippy