Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's the real price of fresh baked bread?

My wife loves making bread with the little bread maker we own.  The other day she pondered making bread so we wouldn't have to buy loaves anymore, and so naturally, I thought I needed to use this as a math post, and see if it's economically sound.

For our two pound recipe, the ingredients include:
   Water: 1.25 cups + 2 TBL
   Oil: 2 TBL
   Sugar: .25 Cup
   Salt: 2 tsp
   Dry Milk:  2 TBL
   White Flour: 3.5 cups
   Wheat Flour: 0.5 cups
   Active Dry Yeast: 2.25 tsp

Except water, the items can be bought at the store "in bulk" and so I researched the prices online:
   Water: ?? Assumed to be free - perhaps a later post will calculate that?
   Oil $3.19 / 48 oz bottle
   Sugar: $2.54 / 5 lb bag
   Salt: $0.49 / 26 oz
   Dry Milk $6.49 / 25.6 oz box
   White Flour $1.49 / 5Lb bag
   Wheat Flour $3.49 / 5Lb bag
   Active Dry Yeast: 4.99 / 4oz jar
Converting each of the following into prices per recipe will prove to be a bit challenging, as many items were sold by weight but used by volume. There is no single direct conversion between these two types of measurements, because the same volume of flour will weigh less than the same volume of water, because it has a lighter density. I was tempted to use fluid ounces as a common unit for all items, but because of their different densities, this would incorrect. In fact, flour is so much lighter than water that it would be nearly nearly 2 times more costly to naively assume that (8 / 5.5 to be more precise).

So I will demonstrate the calculation for flour:
Using similar logic for the rest of the items, I got the following prices*:

This brings the grand total for a recipe of bread to: $1.33.  Unfortunately this does not yield the same usefulness in terms of number of servings, nor in shelf life, as a typical $1.50 loaf of bread, nor does it include the cost of water (probably negligible?) nor the price of electricity to run the bread maker (probably not negligible).  But it sure tastes good, and makes the house smell a lot prettier than a bag of bread.
And now you know how to make the same sort of calculations for your meals. Anyone want to calculate the true price of lasagna now?

Before you go out and buy your own bread maker, remember that ours was a gift so I didn't include that price in the mix, but if you buy your own, you'll have to estimate how many times you will bake bread and figure in that cost too.  At $100, if you bake 400 loaves you'll add another $0.25 per loaf to the cost.

*Notice several conversions with ounces are different because I looked up the weights of various ingredients.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! This is something I've often wondered. But here's another thing to think about: A loaf of bread from the store is labeled as a 1 lb. loaf, and your calculations above are for a 2 lb. homemade loaf. So would a homemade 1 lb. cost only 66 cents?

    Yet there are a lot more slices in that store-bought 1 lb. than I can ever get from my homemade 1 lb... Hmmm...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...