Monday, November 9, 2009

The Cost of Bread

A friend recently asked me if I had calculated the cost of my basic bread recipe (we trade recipe calculations - weird hobby!). I hadn't done it in a year, and I think when I did do it it was an estimate not a down-to-the-penny analysis. :) So I went at it tonight to see what it was.

Here's my recipe (I posted it last year, but just for convenience's sake...):

4 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups white flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup bulgur or other grain cereal (optional)
4 cups water
6 T. oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 T. salt
1 T. yeast

I combine all of that, let it rise until doubled, shape it in loaf pans (4 loaves, 1.5 pounds each), let it rise for an hour or so then bake it at 350 for about 40 minutes (until slightly before the hollow thumping sound; freezes a bit better).

I buy all of my ingredients in bulk, mostly from Bobs Red Mill.

Here are how the costs break out:

oatmeal: $0.26
sugar: $0.12
flour: $1.52
salt: $0.03
yeast: $0.08
oil: $0.26
Bobs Red Mill 7-grain cereal: $0.32 (optional)

So, for four loaves it costs $2.27–2.59 (depending on whether you add the extra cup of grain or not).


Every time I do one of these calculations it's very inspiring to know that instead of $4 for mediocre bread, it's only $0.55 for really good bread. No temptation to buy the "easier" $4 bread! Same goes for my beans-roasted-this-morning 35-cent cup of coffee. None of these things really take that much of my time. Bread takes about 30 minutes of active time from mixing the dough to freezing the loaves. Roasting the coffee beans, grinding the coffee, and putting the coffee in the French Press takes one minute of my (active) time. The $.60/gallon soy milk is a little more labor-intensive, mostly because the soy bean mashing part of the soy milk machine (aka soy cow) takes a bit of scrubbing to clean. But that's still only maybe 10-15 minutes of work for 1.25 gallons of soy milk. The labor requirements are far outweighed by the benefits. Fun stuff, for those of us with weird hobbies, anyway. :)


Donn said...

This shows you how expensive labor and energy are.

alpidarkomama said...

A comment from my own dear papa! :) Yes! Especially considering a bread manufacturer ought to be getting the ingredients for even cheaper than I do. Therefore, a loaf of bread probably costs them more like $0.30/each or something. Wow. :)

Rebecca and Andrew said...

Hi Kerith...very impressed by all the good stuff you make. I am going to use your bread recipe but do you think I could use 1 c. whole flax seed in place of the "optional" bulgar/whole grain cereal? you have a recommendation for adding whole flax seed?