You know how people say that eating out is expensive and you can save a lot of money cooking from home, but then you spend $50+ buying all of the ingredients only to end up with a worse-tasting meal than your $12.99 Mushu pork? Seems backward, doesn’t it?
If you are a carb-a-holic and want 24/7 access to fresh bread, or want a healthy, maybe gluten-free loaf on the cheap, making it yourself is most likely something you’ve considered. But again, you must buy the ingredients yourself, spend the time making it, and even (yuck) clean up afterward.
All of these things may make you question whether a bread maker is truly economical in every sense of the word. We’re going to answer that question for you and let you know why homemade bread with a bread maker is definitely the way to go.
Is it Cheaper to Make Your Own Bread with a Bread Maker?
Making your own bread rather than purchasing it in a store is considerably cheaper. When you buy a loaf from the supermarket, the cost doesn’t only factor in the ingredients used to make that product. It also covers the employee’s salary who worked the shift that made that loaf, packaging costs, transportation costs, the grocery store’s profit margin, and more.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that baking your own bread is the more economical alternative. When you make it yourself, you only pay for the ingredients you choose and the electricity it takes to operate the bread machine. Home bakers save considerable money every month by making homemade bread, especially if they make custom loaves that are typically pricey in a supermarket. You can also buy your dry ingredients like flour and mix-ins in bulk to save even more money, lowering the cost of each loaf to a small handful of change. Of course, beginners might ruin a few loaves if they’re learning how to get the recipe just right, but the learning curve is quick.
Are Bread Makers More Efficient Than an Oven?
Bread machines use much less electricity to bake a loaf of bread for a few reasons. First, they have a much smaller footprint, so the preheating time is much lower than it would be with an oven that is heating a much larger space. Second, a bread maker doesn’t need the same amount of energy to cook the loaf, as most bread makers operate at around 500 watts. If you do the math, you’re paying about 5 cents per loaf to operate a bread machine compared to maybe 50 cents using an oven.
How Much Does a Bread Maker Cost?
The price of a bread maker actually varies quite a lot depending on the brand, size, and features you choose. Most people baking bread a few times a week are happy with one in the mid-range category, so they may cost $100 to $150. There are high-end bread makers that can run into the several hundreds, and these would have some more advanced technology or a wider range of features that people making bread every day, or using one of the other cook programs every day, would appreciate and find value in.
Is a Bread Maker Worth the Investment?
A bread maker is worth the investment in 95% of cases. You’ll save money on all of your bread and dough needs, can create healthier loaves and custom mixes just for you, and will enjoy fresh bread every day of the week. The only reason a bread maker wouldn’t be worth it was if you didn’t use it regularly. It takes more than a year to recoup the initial cost of the machine if you bake two loaves of white bread per week, so if you only use it for a few custom loaves once a month or less, you’ve spent more than you’ll save in a reasonable time frame. If you know your bread needs are high and you’ll get a lot of use out of the bread machine, it is certainly worth the upfront investment.
What Makes Bread Makers Economical for the Environment?
There are many reasons why bread makers are the economical choice for the environment compared to buying a loaf in the store.
The first is that you can buy your ingredients in bulk. Things like bread flour, yeast, nuts, and more can be kept for lengthy periods of time, especially if you vacuum seal them before storing them. Not only is this more affordable for you, it cuts down on waste and reduces packaging of smaller portions.
Second, bread makers use hardly any energy compared to larger appliances like ovens. Some newer models even have convection ovens inside and use less energy than a coffee maker. That’s pretty impressive!
Perhaps most importantly, you choose the ingredients that go into your bread. You can cut out all the preservatives, make gluten-free bread or artisan breads, or use automatic fruit and nut dispensers to add crunch and flavour to your loaves with locally sourced, organic, sustainable mix-ins.
Making bread at home also reduces waste since you can choose your loaf size and only make as much as you can eat in a few days. This means no moldy slices and better use of ingredients since you don’t need to throw away spoiled food. If your family does eat a lot of bread, you have the option of making 2-pound loaves, so it’s a win-win.
Plus, buying ingredients locally has a tiny carbon footprint compared to contributing to mass production and crazy transport routes. Rather than your ingredients coming from a dozen different locations only to be shipped again in the form of bread, you cut out all that to purchase from a local store.
Another environmentally-friendly thing about bread machines is that cleanup is much easier. The bread maker has a non-stick bread pan that barely needs any water to be cleaned, and you only need the one appliance. Without a bread maker, you’d use a large oven, a stand mixer for kneading, another bowl for proofing/rising, and many tools along the way.
How To Get The Most Out of Your Bread Maker
There are so many delicious bread types out there to try and having a bread machine makes it super easy to explore than all. You can make fresh loaves any day of the week of all types of bread, including Sourdough with a sourdough starter bread mix. There are many other settings and bread recipes to choose from too, many with their own programmable setting:
- Whole grain/whole wheat
- French bread
- White bread
- Artisan bread
- Pizza dough
- Pasta dough
- Jam and chutneys
- And more!
The best bread machines from Panasonic, Oster, Breville, Cuisinart, and Zojirushi have all the features and programs you could need for more than just bread. There are so many things you can do with your bread maker that it is one of the most versatile, multi-use kitchen gadgets you could buy.