buying bread vs. making bread

I've been struggling with the dilemma of whether to buy bread or bake bread. Home-made bread tends to be healthier and is obviously more fresh. It can be tastier too, if you're skilled enough, which just comes with time. However, it takes much more time and energy to bake a loaf than it does to go out and buy one (unless you live quite far from a store and consider it exceptionally difficult to deal with the check-out personnel). Unable to make a conclusion, I decided to run some numbers to see which was cheaper, and I thought I'd share.

The cost of buying bread every week is basically $2.50/loaf for Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat Bread from Safeway. I'd factor in transportation, but I go to the store just as much, whether my bread is bought or baked. That one loaf of bread is 1620 calories, which brings it to .154 cents per calorie.

The cost of making bread is a little more complicated. There are a million permutations, but I'll just consider two: buying your yeast and keeping a yeast starter.  Also note that I'm not counting the cost of water.

Weekly bread ingredients: packaged yeast: $0.44, 1.25 lb flour = $1.12, 2T honey = $0.25
Calories: 2200 calories

This comes to about .082 cents per calorie.  Additionally, you can factor in your time into the cost, but I enjoy baking enough not to do that.

Weekly yeast maintenance: .25 lb flour = $0.22
Weekly bread ingredients: 1lb flour = $0.90, 2T honey = $0.25
Calories: 2200 calories

Once you get the routine going, it comes to .062 cents per calorie. There is a startup cost of getting your yeast going, but you might be able to find someone to give you some of theirs to start. 

It's hard to grasp the cost of things when we're talking fractions of cents, but think of it this way: an individual consumes about 14000 calories a week.  If one-tenth of your caloric intake comes from bread, the difference between buying bread and baking bread is about $1.29 a week, or $67 a year.  If half of your caloric intake is from bread, it comes to $6.44 a week, or $335 a year.  It's counting pennies, but more information never hurts.

As for me, I'm going to see if I can get a yeast starter going.

1 comment:

Lucas Sanders said...

Don't forget to account for the cost of running your oven to bake the bread, unless you have more complicated solar-oven schemes or something. Also, I'm amused by the inclusion of a "half your caloric intake comes from bread" calculation. :)

That said, I am totally a fan of the bread baking idea. I wish I were taking time to do that. Maybe that'll end up as a New Year's Resolution, though I never do those. *sigh*