Make bread at home and you can save a tremendous amount of money. Not only that, but you can also control the ingredients and flavors so that your baked goods are just as you like them.
You can bake everything from quick breads like Carrot Bread, muffins like Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, yeast doughs like Homemade Sub Rolls, or even sourdough like Sourdough Rye Bread. Whatever you choose, you’re bound to save money when you make bread at home.
You don’t have to be a skilled baker or pastry chef to make bread at home. In fact, it’s incredibly simple to do and at the base of it, requires little in special equipment.
Sure there are Bread Baking Tools that come in handy, but c’mon, Ma Ingalls regularly baked all her family’s bread. I’m pretty sure she didn’t have a gourmet stocked kitchen.
It’s in your reach to make bread at home!
Why Do This
If you enjoy breads and baked goods, then one of the best ways you can enjoy the best quality at the lowest prices is to learn to make bread at home.
There are so many great recipes and easy strategies for bread making, you can easily try your hand and see success in one go.
Ingredients for Bread Making
Typical ingredients for bread making include:
flour – Unbleached, all-purpose flour is all you need to start. As you get more experienced and try different techniques, you can add in whole wheat, rye, and other flours to vary the flavors and textures of your breads and baked goods.
salt – Salt helps both the texture and the flavor of the bread. You don’t need much, but typically you don’t want to omit it.
water – Clear tap water is fine, though I use filtered when I make bread at home.
leaveners – The leavener you use will depend on the type of bread you’re making. You’ll need baking soda or baking powder for quick breads, yeast and sourdough starter for other doughs.
enrichments – Depending on the recipe, other enrichments can be added to homemade breads, such as eggs, milk, oils, spices, herbs, cheese, and other enrichments.
1. Use a bread machine.
If you’re apprehensive to make bread at home, using a bread machine can be a great way to start. That’s what I did many moons ago.
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 just 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 well and is kind of a gateway to more advanced bread making.
2. Make quick breads and muffins.
That said, you don’t have to have a machine to make bread at home. In fact, quick breads don’t even need rising time. Just stir them up and bake.
Believe it or not, some thinly sliced quick breads can also work for sandwiches. Carrot or zucchini bread would be a great base for chicken salad. Biscuits work well for breakfast sandwiches. English Muffin Bread is fantastic for toast and breakfast sandwiches.
Plus, there’s a whole host of muffins, coffee cakes, and other quick breads to try. Here are some favorites:
3. Try Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.
Years ago a method revolutionized home bread baking was described in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I used the method for awhile with great success. It involves mixing up a very wet dough, allowing it to rise, and storing it in the fridge.
You can shape and bake a loaf anytime you like. Keeping a box of this dough in the refrigerator at all times can help you make pizza or focaccia or pretzels in the blink of an eye. No need to plan ahead.
The Olive Oil Dough is particularly good. Yum! I made focaccia rolls with it for sandwiches that were out of this world.
Based on the price of unbleached bread flour and the minimal amount of salt, yeast, and oil that you might use in a recipe, it costs about $0.25/loaf to make bread at home.
4. Bake with Yeast Doughs & Sourdough
Making a yeasted or sour dough can seem next level intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make great bread at home with these recipes:
Tell us what you think!
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This post was originally published on May 11, 2012. It has been updated for content and clarity.
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.
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!
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.
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!
I know. Telling me about it. Easy.
@Diane, What pizza dough recipe do you use? We have started pizza Friday’s in our home and are making our own pizzas. I would love a great recipe. Thank you!
@Crystal, It’s the basic dough from the book “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day”. You can make the dough up ahead of time and then just heat up the oven for 20 minutes and put your dough in. It’s great. There is also an Olive Oil dough in the book that is also good for pizza but I haven’t tried that one yet.
@Crystal, you can also use this recipe: https://goodcheapeats.com/2009/07/basic-homemade-pizza/ which is really good, but not quite as quick.
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!
@Laura, what a fun memory!
When you do buy the book try Thriftbooks. I got a good used copy for about $5
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?
@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.
I order a lot,of flours bulk from Azure Standard. The quality, variety, and bulk proce is great.
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!
@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.
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…
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.