The Cost of Making a Loaf of Bread with a Bread Machine

Making Bread at Home - Ingredients

7 months ago, I decided to purchase a bread machine because I prefer to always have freshly baked bread rather than stocking up on bread to consume for around 3 days. I have been using the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 bread maker and I am impressed as it’s quite easy to use and makes tasty, good looking loaves of bread.

I then realized that I should know if I was actually saving money by making bread at home, or if I am spending more than if I just buy them at the bakery store? So I calculated the cost each time I made a 2-pound loaf of whole wheat bread (which I usually make) and a 2-pound loaf of basic white bread (which you also might be interested to know the cost). So here’s what I came up with.

My Cost of Making Bread at Home:

2-pound Whole Wheat Bread = $2.30

2-pound Basic White Bread = $1.70

VERSUS

Usual Cost of Buying at the Groceries:

Whole Wheat Bread: $3.00 – $4.00

Basic White Bread: $1.00 – $2.00

Before I explain how I calculated the cost, I first want to point out that you might get different calculations due to some variables:

  • The type of the loaf of bread you want to bake such as white bread, whole wheat bread, gluten-free bread, raisin bread, chocolate bread and others.
  • Your choice of ingredients.
  • Cost of bread machine (see our top 5)
In this section, I am going to calculate the cost of the ingredients used in the recipe. To make it “formal”, I will refer to the bread machine I used (see whole wheat bread recipe) (see all Zojirushi bread recipes).

Ingredients for 2-Pound Loaf of WHOLE WHEAT BREAD:

Slices of Whole Wheat Bread

  • $0.02 for 1-7/8 cups of water (450mL)
  • $1.00 for 4-3/4 cups of whole wheat flour (570g)
  • $0.06 for 4 Tbsp. of sugar (46g)
  • $0.20 for 1 Tbsp. molasses honey(20g)
  • $0.07 for 2 Tbsp. of dry milk (8g)
  • $0.01 for 2 tsp. of salt (11.2g)
  • $0.33 for 4 Tbsp. of vital wheat gluten (32g)
  • $0.21 for 2 Tbsp. of butter (28g)
  • $0.22 for 2 tsp. of active dry yeast (5.6g)

Additional cost of $0.18 for electricity and bread maker (see calculation below)

Total cost per loaf of whole wheat bread is $2.30

Ingredients for 2-Pound Loaf of BASIC WHITE BREAD:

Slices of Basic White Bread

  • $0.02 for 1-1/3 cups of water (320mL)
  • $0.80 for 4-1/4 cups of bread flour (544g)
  • $0.06 for 4 Tbsp. of sugar (46g)
  • $0.07 for 2 Tbsp. of dry milk (8g)
  • $0.01 for 2 tsp. of salt (11.2g)
  • $0.29 for 2-1/2 of Tbsp. butter (35g)
  • $0.28 for 2-1/2 tsp. of active dry yeast (7g)

$0.18 for electricity and bread maker

Total cost per loaf of whole wheat bread is $1.70

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD (ingredients and cost breakdown)

Most cost of ingredients can be found at WalMart.com and the weight conversions are through Google search conversion calculator.

Water: Estimated at 1 cent per cup of water.

Whole Wheat Flour: King Arthur Flour 5lbs pack, costs around $4.00 and can make 4x loaves of bread.

Sugar: Estimated at 6 cents per 46g of sugar.
Calculation: $2.56 for 4lbs or 1810g of sugar (1810g / 46g = 39 servings) ($2.56 / 39 = $0.06 per loaf)

Honey: Estimated at 20 cents per 20g of honey.
Calculation: $2 for 8oz or 227g of honey (227g / 20g = 11 servings) ($2 / 11 = $0.20 per loaf)

Dry Milk: Estimated at 7 cents per 8g of dry milk.
Calculation: $14.50 for 60oz or 1700g of dry milk (1700g / 8g = 212 servings) ($14.50 / 212 = $0.07 per loaf)

Salt: Estimated at 1 cent per 11.2g of salt.
Calculation: $1 for 26oz or 737g of salt (737g / 11.2g = 65 servings) ($1 / 65 = $0.01 per loaf)

Vital Wheat Gluten: Estimated at 33 cents per 32g of vital wheat gluten.
Calculation: $6.18 for 22oz or 623g of vital wheat gluten (623g / 32g = 19 servings) ($6.18 / 19 = $0.33 per loaf)

Butter: Estimated at 21 cents per 28g of butter.
Calculation: $3.50 for 1-lb or 453g of butter (453g / 28g = 16 servings) ($3.50 / 16 = $0.21 per loaf)

Active Dry Yeast: Estimated at 22 cents per 5.6g of dry yeast.
Calculation: $4.58 for 4-oz or 113g of yeast (113g / 5.6g = 20 servings) ($4.58 / 20 = $0.22 per loaf)

Total cost for the ingredients for wheat bread is $2.12

BASIC WHITE BREAD (ingredients and cost breakdown)

Water: 2 cents
White Flour: 80 cents per loaf of Gold Medal Bread Flour 5.0 lb Bag, $3.50 / 4
Sugar: 6 cents
Dry Milk : 7 cents
Salt: 1 cent
Butter: 29 cents
Dry Yeast: 28 cents

Total cost for the ingredients for white bread is $1.53

Other Costs to Consider ($0.18)

Bread MakerBread Machine – 4 cents for a $60 bread maker that could last 3 years, and 15 cents for a $300 bread maker that could last for 5 years. In this case, I will choose the cost of the more expensive bread maker.

Electricity – Estimated at 3 cents per loaf. Calculation: 1 cent per hour of electricity and it takes 3hrs 20mins for the regular wheat course.

Labor – Some might include their time spent in the cost, but my experience in making bread at home that the taste and the freedom of choosing your own ingredients will outweigh the labor for baking. Besides, when using a bread machine, it is just like tossing all the measured ingredients into the baking pan, and then the machine kneads and bakes for me. It does all the hard work.

Conclusion:

In the beginning I mentioned that I mainly used my bread machine to make 2-pound loaves of whole wheat bread. So I was actually saving money while enjoying freshly baked bread all the time. Although for the basic white bread, the cost is just break even compare to buying it at the grocery store. But note that when buying white bread, some brands may contain more preservatives to extend shelf life and could be controversial for the health.

If you’re still deciding to get your own bread machine, my advice is you should do it. Freshly baked bread is so much better. Once you get used to making your own customize loaf of bread, then you can play with your choices of ingredients to match your personal taste preference and dietary needs.

Speaking of choosing your ingredients, it is possible to save more money. Some ingredients used in making white bread do not include milk and by cutting down the amount of butter or even eliminating it would be enough to cut the cost noticeably. Moreover, by choosing an inexpensive bread maker would also help if your main goal is to save money by making bread at home.

If I remember it right, most store-bought bread loaves mostly weigh around 1 – 1.5 pounds. So note that the ingredients I have listed are for making 2-pound loaves of bread.

If you have something in mind and want to share your thoughts with us, feel free to comment.