The Economics of a Bread Machine

The Economics of a Bread Machine

Nothing beats the flavour and aroma of freshly baked bread, making it from scratch however is a messy and time-consuming processes. A bread machine significantly reduces the mess and the time required to make a loaf of bread, but is it worth it economically.

Typically a loaf of bread from a grocery store can range anywhere from around $2 per loaf

Price of a loaf of bread at Giant Tiger (25 March 2020 flyer) - $1.97 for 600g
Price of a loaf of bread at Giant Tiger (25 March 2020 flyer)

to $3.50 to $4 for something a little fancier:

Price of a loaf of bread at Farm Boy (26 March 2020 flyer) - $3.49 for 500g
Price of a loaf of bread at Farm Boy (26 March 2020 flyer)

The recipe I regularly uses calls for the following:

  • 250mL Warm Water
  • 50mL Vegetable Oil (any vegetable oil like canola or sunflower oil should work)
  • 375g All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ tsp (8.5g) Salt
  • 3 tbsp (38g) White Sugar
  • 1  Packet of Yeast (7g)

Breaking down the cost of each ingredient yields the following:

Ingredient Package Size Package Price Price for One Loaf
Water From the tap Negligable $0.00
Sunflower Oil 3L $8.99 $0.15
Flour 10kg $8.97 $0.34
Salt 1kg $0.99 $0.01
Sugar 2kg $1.49 $0.03
Yeast 113g $4.77 $0.29
Total $0.82

However, the loaf the above recipe makes is only about half the size of a loaf from the store, adjusting the cost of our homemade loaf to the equivalent in store-bought bread gives a cost of $1.64 per loaf, still cheaper a typical loaf from the store.

This calculation however does not take into account the cost of the bread machine itself, which can be had for $59.99 + tax on amazon.ca:

Price of a Bread Machine on Amazon.ca (26 March 2020) - $59.99+tax
Price of a Bread Machine on Amazon.ca (26 March 2020)

With tax (13%), this bread machine costs $67.79. Given a cost savings of $0.33 per loaf, it would take 206 loaves of bread to break even. That said, it's not uncommon to find bread machines at thrift shops, I bought mine at such a shop for $16.99 + tax ($19.20), which means I only need to make 59 loaves of bread to break even. Not bad, considering we go through about a loaf of bread per week, I'd break even in a little over a year.

In spite of the cost savings not being terribly significant, a bread machine still offers significant advantages over buying store bought bread. Not only can the machine make loaves of bread, it can also take most of the work out of making homemade pizza dough. Further, the 'dough' cycle allows you to shape the dough as you please and make things like hamburger buns and baguettes. You also have control over the recipe, which allows you to experiment with different ingredients and make 'fancier' breads. These typically cost quite a bit more than the $1.97 loaf I used as an example in this article, so the cost savings in such a case would be higher.

Finally, as I said at the beginning, nothing beats the smell and taste of a freshly baked loaf of bread.

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