Toast with vegan butter and strawberry jam. Avocado toast. Veggie sandwiches. Peanut butter and bananas. Grilled cheese. Oh my! We love whole grain bread and buns. Whole grains are healthy, filling, and super affordable. Last autumn, just for fun, I wondered if we could make better bread and save money with a bread machine. The short answer is yes!
Why I bought my own bread machine:
Backup: Howard eats 1-2 sandwiches every day for lunch. He makes them himself and is very happy with his same old – same old daily sandwiches. Let’s talk numbers. The medium priced whole grain buns cost about $5.00 for a pack of 8. They are OK not great. The fancy buns he really likes cost $5.00 for four. that is $1.25 each (yikes) or $2.50 per day. We are not of the 1%! There is no way we are going to buy those on a regular basis! As an experiment, we switched to a less expensive whole grain sandwich roll. These cost about $3.00 for a packet of 8. They were not very good. They were like wet Kleenex. My mom calls them that! Back to the OK not great buns, $5.00 for packet of 8. This was getting ridiculous. Then, I wondered, just for fun, could we save money and improve quality with a bread machine … Spoiler alert: YES!
How to save money and improve quality with a bread machine:
First, I researched bread machines and learned more about what was available. I selected a Cuisinart because it got good reviews. People said it was a good value. With a sale coupon, we got 20% off. That brought the price down to $80.00. It is stainless steel. It has a variety of setting for whole wheat, gluten free and so on. You can have hot fresh bread in about 4 hours. Or, since it is a set it and forget it type machine, you can put ingredients into the bucket, press a few buttons + delay, and have hot fresh bread ready for breakfast in the morning. Oh my!
How long will it take us to pay for the $80.00 bread machine?
Math time. I admit math is not my specialty so let’s use round numbers. Keep in mind the following are all 100%, whole wheat products. Calculate 8 “OK not great buns” for $5.00 which equals $.63 each. Howard ate 2 buns per day or $1.25 per day. If he ate sandwiches at home for 28 days per month (reasonable) that is $35.00/month for the buns alone. What? I had no idea! The “cheaper, junky, wet Kleenex buns” (8 for $3.00 or $.38 cents each) cost $21.00 per month. Wait, what? They were gross.
We spent $80.00 on “OK not great 100% whole wheat buns” in almost 2 .5 months. If we bought them, we would spend $80.00 in “wet Kleenex 100% whole wheat buns” in 3.8 months. Surely. we could do better. We could save money and improve quality with great tasting, fresh, healthy whole grain bread. We can and we did! We paid for the machine in just a few months. Bingo. Yes, and you can too.
Our new inexpensive, high quality bread recipe:
Here is our basic recipe for 2 pounds of 100% organic, 100% whole wheat bread or buns. We make a batch every week or so. Usually I freeze one half. Interesting to note that since this bread is so much more satisfying, Howard eats less. He doesn’t get hungry as quickly when he eats this bread! There are only about a gazillion billion recipes for vegan, 100% whole grain bread. This just happens to be a classic standby.
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 cups organic 100% whole wheat flour (5 pounds/80 ounces for under $8.00. Ten cents per ounce. Cost per 2 pound loaf = $3.20
- 1/3 c. vital wheat gluten (Bob’s Red Mill, less than $8.00 for 22 oz. Use about 3 ounces per loaf. Cost per loaf = $1.15. This gives whole wheat bread a softer springy lightness.
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast (just under $5 for 4 oz. About 30 loaves per bottle of yeast. Cost per loaf = .17)
Total cost is approximately $4.50 per 2 pounds of fresh, delicious, high quality bread. We have been doing this since October (4+ months). The bread is not only delicious but better quality and is very easy to make. If we make 4 loaves per month that equals $18.00 for satisfyingly filing, fresh, delicious homemade bread. Plus the house smells great! What’s not to like about that?
Oh, don’t forget to add time to the equation! Add maybe ten minutes to get everything out, measure, push a few buttons, and put stuff away. Wipe down the counter top. Check done. That gives you more time to do other smart, interesting things like pick out which jam you want to enjoy or slice the avocados for avocado toast.