Bake Your Own Bread to Save Money

Baking your own bread can save you a tremendous amount of money.

At the end of March, I set out to audit my grocery spending. I wanted to make sure that I was doing what I could do to stop up any leaks in our budget.

One of the conclusions I came to was that I spent a fair amount of money on bread. If I could make my own bread, perhaps I could shave a few bucks off the budget. So, I spent the month of April working on my home baking skills. The result was some more money in the bank and some tasty home baked breads.

It’s not as hard as you think.

Don’t feel like you need to slave away over a hot oven to make home baked bread a reality. Here are some tricks to make it happen.

1. Use a bread machine.

I have a love/hate relationship with my stand mixer. I love it for bulk batches of cookies and mashed potatoes, but I don’t feel super confident making bread dough. Truth is, I just don’t like the mess.

A bread machine makes it so much easier. Since the shape of the bread machine bread is a little funky, I often just use the machine to make the dough. Then I transfer it to traditional bread pans or, more often, form it into rolls or hamburger or hot dog buns. This works wonderfully for me.

Some of our favorite doughs to mix up in the machine include:

2. Make quick breads.

As much as I love my machine, you don’t have to have a machine to make great bread. In fact, quick breads don’t even need rising time. Just stir them up and bake. See? Quick.

Believe it or not, some thinly sliced quick breads can also work for sandwiches. I think a carrot or zucchini bread would be a great base for chicken salad. Biscuits work well for breakfast sandwiches.

Some fave quick breads:

3. Try Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

My most recent successes have included the doughs described in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. When I first reviewed the book awhile back, I was a little skeptical about the flavor. But, now that I’ve spent a solid month working with the different recipes, my faith is renewed.

Even moreso once I crunched the numbers! Based on the price of unbleached bread flour that I buy at Walmart and the minimal amount of salt, yeast, and oil that I might use in a recipe, I calculated that it costs me $0.25/loaf! This figure doesn’t include the cost of electricity.

But that doesn’t really matter! For a quarter a loaf, we can eat eight loaves for the price of one from the store!

To make this Artisan Bread in 5 method work for our family of eight, I mix up a double batch of dough (enough for eight loaves) every couple of days. I usually bake four loaves in a day and yes, they are consumed that day.

Keeping a box of this dough in the refrigerator at all times has helped me make pizza or focaccia or pretzels in the blink of an eye. No need to plan ahead.

And lack of planning is really what costs us money. Well, that and laziness. And no time. And well, motivation.

But, I’m totally sold on this method, and particularly the Olive Oil Dough. Yum! I made focaccia rolls with it for sandwiches that were out of this world.

Baking my own bread is helping us save money — and still enjoy great meals.

Do you bake your own bread?

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Comments

  1. I have been interested in breadmaking for a while, but I am a little scared of it. I have started making my own pizza dough and rolls and my own bisquick. Love them! I would love to learn to make loaves. I don’t have a bread machine. What is the expense of getting one along with the other accessories you might need for breakmaking (pans, etc)?

    • Jessica says:

      I have the cheapest model bread machine, they run between $35 and $50. A few pans wouldn’t be much more. I use Pyrex most of the time.

    • Candy J. says:

      I love the bread machine for making dough. We recently lost the bread machine paddle, I think it was accidentally thrown away, and we found another complete bread machine for 5.oo at a thrift store! Bread pans for baking are fairly inexpensive too!

      • Jessica says:

        @Candy J., we have done that before, lost the paddle, or let it get sucked into the garbage disposal. Many online appliance stores sell replacements. That’s how we remedied it, but thrift store is a great place to check, too. So many people don’t know how to use their bread machines.

  2. Hillary says:

    I do make my own bread and pizza dough. BUT, I agree that my bred comes out in super small batches if I make it in the bread machine. I also have a devil of a time getting it to rise correctly. It will rise once, I knead it, then set it in a warm oven to rise a second time—nothing. So we get flat-ish, dense bread.
    I checked my yeast—fine. Using normal bread flour. I put it in a warm oven preheated to 300 for a minute.
    UGH
    I’d like to try adding more wheat, healthier fiber into the bread but it makes it SO dense.

    • Jessica says:

      You might want to get some bread books from the library. The front matter of cookbooks is usually full of information about how to make great loaves. My editor says people rarely read that section of the book. But, I love them for learning.

    • @Hillary, Having had a bit of practice recently, one thing I’ve noticed is that I have to be very diligent to not leave the dough rising too long on that first rise. If I pull it out of the machine and shape it within minutes of it ‘pinging’, I get the best results. Any time I’ve left it there long enough to sink a bit on the top, I get a poor second rise and wind up with a small dense loaf. Also, your oven might be getting too warm, even if you just have it on for a minute. Stick your hand in and it should only feel warm, not hot. And finally, even though the machine will warm the ingredients, I get better results when I put slightly warm water in the pan rather than cold! Hope some of this helps.

    • Baking really is a science. There’s a product called “vital glutin” that you can add to lessen the density of your bread. I know King Arthur Flour has a terrific mail order company for all their products — and more — online, and a super helpful forum for learning all things about baking as well. They have a traveling road show that teaches different aspects of baking, so you can check their schedule for that online, too. I’ve gone — it was free and absolutely the most fun you’ll have in an afternoon.

      • @LizA, I routinely use at least 4 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten in every loaf I bake. Some recipes call for more. I purchase mine in five-pound bags from our local vegetarian grocery….it’s cheaper there.

    • @Hillary, I’ve only tried maybe 10 times to make bread, with and without the breadmaker. However, my brother-in-law is really into it and has experimented a lot. He says that if you use “vital wheat gluten” it makes the bread a lot softer and lighter. My husband was into bread making for awhile, and a woman at the health food store told him the same thing. So I can’t say it from experience, but I’ve heard that more than once. Obviously it’s not a good choice for anyone worried about gluten, but neither is the bread itself.

    • You can also bake the bread after it has risen the first time. Not being conniseurs we dodn’t notice the difference.

  3. Can I just make regular bread or pizza dough and keep it in the refrigerator to use during the week? If so, when do I take it out to let it rise etc… and how long would it keep in the refrigerator?

    • Jessica says:

      @Diane, I am not sure how long it would be good. I know a day ahead is fine. I know Trader Joe’s sells dough in their refrigerated case, but I’ve never bought it.

  4. For the past couple of months, I’ve been baking at least one loaf of honey wheat sandwich bread using the bread machine (on dough setting, then shaped and put in a loaf pan). I usually try to do something else as well, since one loaf doesn’t really last a week with 5 of us using it for lunches. Your pita bread recipe is a favorite, but I’ve also done some hot cross buns and cinnamon-raisin bread. But now we are spoiled… when we pick up a pack of rolls or other packaged bread product at the store because of lack of time/planning, they taste so bland!

  5. Your bread looks really nice. What is the pan that you have your french bread dough on? I have never seen one. Where can I get one?

    • Jessica says:

      That is a baguette pan. I think I bought it at Williams-Sonoma, but I think you can order them on Amazon, too.

  6. I love, love, LOVE, L-O-V-E this blog!!!!!!!!!! So very well done.

    I posted it on the Dave Ramsey Fans SparkPeople team, and on my SparkPeople blog.

  7. Argh, I need to bake my own bread. I’ve been lazy… I have a mixer but no bread machine and the ONE time I tried making bread, it flopped. I just need to SIT DOWN and actually try again!

  8. not to mention that baking at home takes the corn syrup out of your bread.

    And that reminds me- I need to get a couple of loaves started.

  9. I plan on trying this out this week… I’ll be making your Applesauce Walnut bread for snacks, and then some crusty artisan bread for later on in the week. thanks for posting this tip to remind me!

  10. I’d like to start making bread too, but it has been such a failure so far, that it’s uninspiring. To be honest, I don’t enjoy the process, but I feel that I should get over it. I live up at high altitude, and I think some of the problems are due to that but after many searches online, I’ve not found a satisfactory solution. I just need to get more educated, I think.

  11. Great tips here! I too have issues with the shape of bread in a bread maker, but I like you suggestion. And I’m loving the $0.25 / loaf idea! Linked up to this on facebook. Thanks!

  12. I’m glad you tried the artisan bread in five minutes again. I’m no expert in French baking, but I did spend a couple years in Germany and Italy, and being able to easily and inexpensively bake a decent bread is so nice! Being able to store it in the refrigerator to develop flavor is great, too. The only drawback is the heat in our hot inland summers!

  13. Gina S. says:

    Does anyone have a recipe for double Fiber bread? We’ve been buying the Oroweat kind but it’s so expensive. We have diabetes in the family so I try to get bread that has a lot of fiber like 5+ grams per slice.

  14. Shannon says:

    I second the comment about King Arthur Flour’s website. There is a lot of good, well-written information about baking. I have learned quite a bit just from reading the comments from their blog.

    I have looked at the recipe for the Artisan bread but it seemed like the container you needed to store the dough in was so large and would take quite a bit of space in the refrigerator. Any comments on this? Jessica, what type of container is in your photo as it look smaller that I thought you would need.

    • Jessica says:

      @Shannon, I make a double batch of their dough and the container takes up about half of one refrigerator shelf. It’s a little bulky, but I am learning to adjust.

    • @Shannon,

      I make the artisan in 5 and I found a tall, higher rubbermaid container that works perfect for one batch. i like it because it takes up less “shelf” space because it’s tall. I can put it into the milk slot on the door or on the larger milk/drink shelf in the fridge without it taking up too much space.

  15. Charlie says:

    Hi Jessica!!
    Can you post the recipe that you double for the artisan bread? Any other recipes for a family of 8 would be appreciated!

  16. Love love love Artisan in 5 bread. What a money saver and great addition to my arsenal! I recommend buying the book and trying a bunch of the recipes in there. I have the Artisan in 5 and the Healthy Bread in 5…the sandwich bread in Healthy in 5 is terrific. My kids like it. Teach your kids how to mix it up and bake it!!

  17. Melinda P says:

    I used to bake my own bread (usually 100% whole wheat) all the time. I was pretty darn good at it too, and pretty much was in love with my bread machine (just to make the dough, then bake in the oven). Then something happened and I haven’t made bread other than a few quick breads in almost a year. I have the book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (the follow up book using more whole wheat, etc), but I’m not sure about the size of the container to keep it in, so I’ve never tried it. Space is at a premium in our refrigerator.

  18. I love the artisan bread. I usually make it into some kind of flatbread though rather than loaves, because I’m not great at those, lol.

  19. We love the Artisan in 5. Sometimes I have trouble with my loaf puffing up enough. We use our left over bread or ends to make croutons and breadcrumbs for other dishes. It beats the store bought stuff hands down!

  20. Demetria Elms says:

    This is a great article! Thanks for posting because I’ve been wanting to give bread baking a try. However, as I read the article with my 6yo boy over my shoulder, he commented that we shouldn’t make bread in the toilet. Ah, sigh, he’s never seen a bread machine before and now I’m concerned that he may not eat from one if we had it! j/k, but I thought you might laugh along. :)

  21. We’ve had a breadmaker here for a couple of years… I have been making raisin bread and pizza dough in it with much success… However, this past month we decided we weren’t going to buy anymore bread… at all… So we started trying to use the bread machine to make all our bread. Well, after a whole month of trying, we are still FAILING. Either it doesn’t rise, or it smells like really bad beer!?!? I changed my yeast and tried a few recipes… no change. The only thing I can see is that we are using a stone ground flour… Any ideas on how I could improve? Right now I just throw a loaf of bread away every time, it’s quite the waste. I’ll try the artisan recipe…

    • Jessica says:

      Have you read the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine book? That has wonderful tips and recipes. And like others have mentioned, vital wheat gluten is important to helping it rise and get the right texture.

    • @Tina O, You might try using bread flour. Most of my local grocery stores stock King Arthur bread flour and sometimes other brands, too. I’ve been buying bread flour in 25-pound bags at Sams Club and storing it in the tall, clear restaurant storage containers that Sams sells, too.
      Additionally, what kind of yeast are you using? Instant yeast and quick cycle works for me in my Zoe machine. Sams also sells a double pack of instant yeast that’s much cheaper than the Fleishmann’s instant yeast in the small brown jars.

  22. When I make bread from scratch, I have always done it by hand. I am looking into getting a bread maker, especially after reading your cost comparison. Do you have suggestions on what to look for in purchasing one? They seem to come in a variety of price ranges with different options. I’d love to hear your opinion. Thanks!

    • Jessica says:

      @Kristi, the cost comparison from this post was in regards to the Artisan Bread Dough. I don’t know that a bread machine would save you money, it’s just easier for a wimp like me.

  23. Lea Ann says:

    I see in one of your previous posts, it looked like you had purchased Wheat Montana flour. I find it is incredibly expensive considering how much flour we go through over a period of a couple of months since I bake all of our bread. I was wondering….do you ever grind your own grains? I see that the Wheat Montana wheatberries are MUCH cheaper. I can get a 25 pound bag for $13 vs. already ground 40 pound for $40. So…I am considering buying a wheat mill….probably a Vita Mix. Can you give any input?

    • Jessica says:

      @Lea Ann, I found that really cheap at Walmart actually. The best deal I’ve found on unbromated, unbleached, actually. But, no, I don’t have a mill, so I can’t speak to that. Sorry. But, I know there are others who do have experience with that. Maybe they will chime in.

  24. Glad to hear you’ve had increasing success with Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Your pictured loaves look lovely. I read your earlier review of the book but I haven’t bought it yet. Once my newborn baby gets a little older I shall buy it and try it out with gusto. I love baking bread from scratch! I remember baking bread as a toddler with my mother — she let me have a small section of dough to knead alongside her and baked it in a mini loaf pan and we always ate it straight out of the oven — hot, smothered with butter. Yum!

  25. Well, I finally did it. Based on your comments on this book I went and tried it. I cannot believe how good it is. My family is pizza crazy and it took me all day to run 3 batches of pizza dough in the bread machine. Now I just use the basic dough and in about an hour I have three unbelievably good pizzas. Thanks for being willing to try these things and tell us honestly about them!

  26. Several years ago, my son and I read a picture book about a boy and his mom who baked bread every day. It reminded me of the countless loaves of sourdough bread that came from my mom’s kitchen. Shortly after we read the book, I was talking with my mom about baking bread and lamenting the kneading process (I have a hand injury). She suggested I buy a bread machine. By that afternoon, I had found one on Craigslist and it was even delivered to my door! From that moment on, I’ve baked all of our family’s bread, for about 4 years now. I stick mostly to a simple wheat loaf for sandwiches and a delicious cinnamon raisin loaf (for french toast, egg-in-a-hole, or pbjs). Oh, and a buttermilk loaf -yum! I use a combination of Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat and store-brand bread flour. A bread machine is now a necessary appliance in our house.

  27. I’ve started baking bread again after a long hiatus – years ago, my husband bought me a grain mill, which I use and love. I also use the bread machine to knead the dough, but I bake the loaf in the oven – we like the texture better. Just borrowed “Artisan Bread” from the library and am reading through it… may give it a try!

  28. I haven’t purchased a loaf of bread since September, 2011. When the price of our favorite bread brand went to $4.00/loaf I decided, as you did, to see if I could bake my own more economically. After I cleared the cost of my bread machine I calculate it costs about thirty-five cents a loaf to make wonderful, flavorful bread. I make my own pizza crust, too. I appreciate the fact that our bread now contains no artificial additives, chemicals, or unwanted “stuff”. I’m beginning to get requests from other households in our family for cinnamon raisin bread and “that addictive white bread”, a recipe I found on Pinterest that contains condensed milk. As you mentioned in your article, with a bread machine it is not hard to make wonderful, home-baked bread.

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