Bread baking is what made me fall in love with being in the kitchen. This may surprise you as I haven’t shared a lot of bread recipes online, but it’s true. I love everything about the process of baking bread. The therapeutic kneading, stirring, shaping, and then sitting back as it rises into beautiful mounds of glory in the oven is a process that stirs my creative soul.
Of course, eating freshly baked bread is definitely a highlight too! When my mother started grinding her own whole wheat and baking homemade bread in my childhood, we would wait with bated breath to have our hot-out-of-the-oven slice slathered with butter and homemade strawberry freezer jam. I thought my mother was a crazy good cook (and still do).
We kids enjoyed our sliced supermarket bread, but we ate my mom’s healthier whole wheat version like there was no tomorrow.
But there is another advantage to baking your own bread — it can save you a lot of money.
While there are a lot of variables, here is a quick rundown on the costs:
The average cost of whole wheat bread in the U.S. is $2, but many healthier versions (long fermented sourdough, sprouted grain bread, etc.) can be $3-5 dollar a loaf. The gluten-free versions I find (and feel use acceptable ingredients) run about $5-7 dollars a loaf (or more).
The average loaf of bread uses one pound of flour.
If you are a bulk buyer, from my local co-op (Azure Standard), I can currently buy a 50 pound bag of organic hard wheat berries for, $32.40, which is $.64 a pound. (Average cost of unbleached white flour in the U.S, is $.52 a pound). Yeast (or sourdough starter), honey, and coconut oil bought at Costco is only going to add a little cost as you only use small amounts per loaf. This means that you can make a loaf, using organic ingredients, for around $1. This saves you at least $1 a loaf, but even up to $2-4 a loaf!
The average person eats just less than 80 loafs of bread a year. That means you can save between $80 to $320 a year per person! For a family of four that would equal a savings of $320 to $1,280 per year!
While gluten-free baking is more expensive, your savings will be similar because store-bought gluten-free food is very expensive. Plus, I have found that it tastes way better than store-bought.
I find that many people are nervous about baking bread, but it’s really not as hard as you may think. Many people who don’t enjoy the whole bread making process like to use a bread machine. A machine that mixes, kneads and bakes a loaf of bread takes a lot of the fear and work out of it. I have not bought one yet since I don’t like using a lot of nonstick pans (which all the of the bread machines that I am aware of use). However, if you are buying a lot of store-bought bread, they are very likely made in nonstick pans anyway.
So, if a bread machine helps you not only save money but make bread with good ingredients, then I say, go for it! Many people find them secondhand for not much money. New machines run from inexpensive to a couple hundred dollars. This bread maker, West Bend 2 Lb. Breadmaker, is in the top 20 well rated bread machines on Amazon and costs $60 dollars, which is a great price (especially considering that most of the top twenty are at least $100 dollars or more).
Another method that is super simple, has gotten rave reviews, and is very easy to adapt to the bread making process is the Five Minute Bread technique. This method takes very little time and effort, yet produces beautiful results. The two books that use this method are “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients” and “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.” Jim Lahey uses a similar approach in his book, “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method.”
With these types of techniques you can achieve bakery-worthy bread with very little invested money or time. A win-win, right? You can also search the recipes here on MNN for bread recipes for inspiration (like this lovely Irish Soda Bread recipe or this Irish Brown Bread recipe).
I hope that I have convinced you that making your own bread is worth it. Because baking bread is such a beautiful process, because it saves me money while being nutritionally superior, one of the goals for myself, and then to share on this blog are some good gluten-free whole grain bread recipes.
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