The Cost of Baking

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.

Loaves

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.

One Loaf 2

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!

Yay!

~The Homesteading Hippy

14 thoughts on “The Cost of Baking

  1. Anonymous

    Awesome! I was kind of wondering this too. Cool to know you are saving at least some money and it is very good bread 🙂

    Reply
  2. calrose42

    You counted out the costs of this all alone, while I went to school to learn this and make bread.

    Bread baking is a total art and a love of mine. You can make so many delicious loaves. A few of my favorites are adding cranberries and nuts to a rustic or sourdough loaf. We once even added cooked butternut squash and sage to it…could have used more butternut flavor.

    Best part about making your own bread is you can create your own multigrain or oatmeal loaf. They are so fresh and great sandwich or french toast material.

    Reply
  3. Christie

    This is going to sound like a criticism, but I promise you it’s not- just something I thought of while reading your post and thought was interesting.

    You mention how the loaves you bought before were ‘cheap, industrial’ bread, and while homemade bread definitely has that artisan quality to it don’t you think that cosco flour is also on the ‘cheap, industrial’ side? You aren’t getting any of the additives and preservatives from commercial loaves, but you still get the pesticides and whatever else from the commercial flour.

    I have been thinking about the cost vs time in baking bread lately, too and this is something I hadn’t considered before. For me it is more, is baking my own delicious bread worth it because I love bread and end up eating the whole loaf in a matter of hours >.<

    Anyway, super interesting post and I have been enjoying reading your blog 🙂

    Reply
    1. The Homesteading Hippy Post author

      I characterize bread more by it’s flavor and texture than the ingredients when I called it “cheap”. That being said, I checked the ingredients list of my flour, and it looks like King Arthur doesn’t add much, other than a few vitamins and malted barley for yeast to feed on.
      ~The Homesteading Hippy

      Reply
  4. Tim

    I know some people are particular about frozen bread, but if you bake in bulk and make smaller bread rolls, you can fit the smaller roles in a freezer.

    This way you also use your time more economically by baking in bulk.

    Another secret that has worked well for me, make friends with someone who works in a flour mill. They have bags (I’m talking 30kg bags) of flour that get chucked out or fed to pigs.

    Reply
    1. The Homesteading Hippy Post author

      I like the idea of freezing bread. Unfortunately, I can’t bake more than one loaf at a time because my oven is so small. Also, my freezer is one of those tiny units, so I could freeze maybe one loaf and still have my other food in there. Once I have a house, I plan on getting a large oven and freezer, so then I probably will freeze the bread.
      ~The Homesteading Hippy

      Reply
    1. The Homesteading Hippy Post author

      I bake my bread on a pizza stone. I lay a piece of parchment paper on an upside-down cookie sheet, and use that as a rudimentary pizza peel. I don’t have an outdoor over, but I’ve been playing with the idea of building a temporary one around my fire pit.
      ~The Homesteading Hippy

      Reply
  5. candiharris

    Really enjoyed your post on the cost of bread. I was in business for years and when we figured out prices it seldom included our time. That was a whole different thing though. As far as $10 per hour for your time, that’s a good estimate, however, what you be doing if you weren’t making the bread? I count my time with bread making as zero, not because I’m not worth it, but because I would probably be sitting on my duff during that time. Lol when I look at way’s to save money at home, I never include my time because I’d probably say yikes and go buy it. Lol. Loved your post, so keep figuring the cost of making “Home Made”, it really is interesting, not to mention tastes so much better:) oh, have you thought about bread painting to sell your bread? Your bread looks really good by the way.

    Reply
    1. The Homesteading Hippy Post author

      Thank you. The only reason I value my time so highly is that I would otherwise be doing something else productive. I tend to either be working on some project or working out (hiking or martial arts). If I thought that I would otherwise be sitting around doing nothing, I would count it as zero. At the time that I wrote this post, I did not have a job so spent a lot of my time gardening, foraging, and baking. I still do, but now I schedule it around work.
      ~The Homesteading Hippy

      Reply

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