Friday, March 25, 2011

Bread Economics (White Bread)

Bread. It truly is the food of life, having fed the masses throughout recorded history. Hell, bread is so important to us that shortages have caused revolutions and downfalls of governments.

As part of my food planning, I started researching what it takes to make our daily loaf (ok, closer to weekly loaf since it's only the two of us, but you get the picture).

Here's what I found out, using average pricing per loaf at bulk stores and discount clubs (in Alaska):
  • Crappiest white/wheat loaf that is mostly fluff, not nutrition = $0.99
  • Medium quality white/wheat that is pretty decent nutrition = $2.50
  • High quality artisan bread = $5.00

So, to further understand this, I took this Traditional White Bread 2-loaf recipe:
  • 6 1/2 cups bread flour (rounded to 7 cups for adjustment and flouring surfaces)
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lard/shortening, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
applied a few simple conversions:
  • 1 lb flour = 3.5 cups
  • 1 lb dry active yeast = 144 teaspoons = 64 "packets"
  • 1 lb sugar = 2 cups = 32 tablespoons
  • 1 lb salt = 2 cups = 32 tablespoons
  • 1 lb lard/shortening = 2 cups = 32 tablespoons
to determine the following are required to make 100 loaves (about two per week):
  • 100 lb flour = $40 ($20/50 lb)
  • 1.5 lb dry active yeast = $9 ($6/lb)
  • 5 lb sugar = $3.50 ($7/10 lb)
  • 3 lb salt = $0.94 ($1.25/4 lb)
  • 5 lb lard/shortening = $8 (shortening $9/6 lb) 
So, 100 loaves of bread for $61.45 -- that's just shy of 62 cents per loaf.

That's right folks - you can eat fresh-baked bread all year, for a little less than 2/3 the price of the crappiest discount supermarket loaves. You could save even more if you bought more of the ingredient in larger bulk sizes!


Anonymous said...


If you have not checked out this site,

it may be worth your time to investigate it.
There are alot of helpful members and tons of useful information to be gleaned from the posts.

BTW: I've read all your posts but this is my first time commenting. I admire what the two of you are doing and I look forward to reading your future posts as you work towards your dream.

PS: You do not need to add this to your comments if you don't want to. I just wanted to share a pretty neat site on bread baking. Some of the site is for professional bakers but there are home bakers posting as well.


Unknown said...

I make all of our bread too. I have a mill, and mill the wheat first, but it is still similarly priced, and you are getting a good bread with no junk in it.

You can make your own hamburger buns with your bread dough too - instead of forming loaves, just roll it out and cut it with a glass or biscuit cutter, and let it rise and then bake like normal (in case you didn't know.)

Plickety Cat said...

Deka - OMG I really LOVE the Fresh Loaf site. I've been trying to glean all the tips and tricks I can since my bread doesn't look nearly as scrumptious as the ones pictured on their site! I'm baking challenged, so I'm hoping that hubby inherited the baking gene from his grandfather and this can be one of his domestic chores :) It's got to be better than my concrete doorstops!

Conni - I love making mini-loafs, buns and rolls for po-boy's, burgers and sloppy-joes. And one of my fav things is to make mini sourdough chowder bowls. Who ever said you had to slice all your bread? Crazy!! I've been known to just rip off a chunk and slather it with butter or top it with a hunk of cheese. You can't really do that with most supermarket bread unless they have a good bakery department (not all bakery departments are created equal!!)

Can't wait until we get our wood-fired clay/brick oven built! I think we'll be have much better success with our bread, and be able to fire about a dozen loaves at a time so we can experiment with more recipes and flavor combos. You just aren't that adventurous when baking is a difficult chore instead of being fun.

Bryan and Vikki said...

Hi there... we've been out .... 100 km from the nearest dirt road for 4 years now. The doctor told us the best thing you can do .... is grind your own grain and we started that 3 years ago. most people don't know that their flour is dead after 15 days of grinding. We have just started another line cabin.... building with only a skidoo. interesting to say the least. It is suprising how many people are turning to the great outdoors... It is an amazing life.

Anonymous said...

Oh I want to see lots of pictures and 'how-tos' when you do the brick/clay oven!! Been trying to figure out how to get the time and also do it outdoors, or at least not in the house, since I used one about 10 years ago. Makes the best pizzas!
Try the no-knead bread recipes too, just google them-there are lots- for the more 'rustic' bread.
I am also about 50% baking challenged but those are super easy and you look ...oh so accomplished :-))