Friday, August 21, 2009

On bread

When A moved in last year, our place inherited relatively few of his personal belongings. Since he was renting his place furnished, all he brought with him was an enormous television, his clothes, and a few other sundry items.

A year later, I realized that one of these "sundry items" was a Williams Sonoma bread machine. Which has just been sitting in our storage closet collecting dust.

Last week, I dragged it out from its hiding storage place, and made bread. And boy, was it ever GOOD! Mind you, it is a 3 1/2 hour process, but other than the 2 minutes it takes to measure the ingredients into the machine, it is a really passive 3 1/2 hour process.

I love knowing that every ingredient going into this bread is healthy, but, I was curious - is it healthier? Is it cheaper? Really, is it worth the 3 1/2 hours or should we just keep buying our Sara Lee?

So I did what I do best, and I crunched some numbers. Here is what I came up with:

  • Flour costs $4.25 for a 5 lb bag. 5 lbs = 20 C
  • Olive oil costs $6.99 for a 500 ml bottle. 500 ml = 33.3 T
  • Honey costs $3.00 for a 12 oz bottle. 12 oz = 1.5 C
  • 1 packet yeast costs $0.25
  • Water and salt costs are negligible


  • A 1.5 lb loaf of bread costs me $1.86 to make (or, $0.078 per oz.)
  • The Sara Lee Delightful 100% Whole Wheat bread we usually buy costs $4.29 per 20 oz loaf (or, $0.215 per oz.)
  • We usually go through about 1 loaf of bread per week.
  • Therefore, I'm saving $2.43 per week, or, about $126 per year.

Hmm. I guess it's not much, but now lets look at the nutrition profiles:

Home-made nutrition facts, per 2 oz slice: Calories:152, Fat: 2.6g, Protein: 4.5g, Carb: 29.5g, Fiber: 4g.

Store-bought nutrition facts, per 2 oz: Calories: 113, Fat: 1.25g, Protein: 7.5g, Carb: 22.5g, Fiber: 6.3g

So, Sara Lee, with all her preservatives and additives has managed to make a seemingly healthier (albeit pricier) loaf of bread than me and my new A's bread machine. My last bit of research came from here. A quick scan of the ingredient listing didn't reveal anything too disturbing, though there were quite a few unpronounceables.

All the same, Sara Lee doesn't fill my home with the delicious smell of bread baking, and with the $126 I'm saving every year, I can afford to go buy another pair of new running shoes!

If you'd like to make your own bread too, here is the recipe I've been using:

For a 1 1/2 lb. loaf

1 1/4 C water
2 T olive oil
1/4 C honey
3 1/4 C 100% Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 T salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 package)

Put all of the ingredients into the bread pan in the order listed. Program for whole wheat bread, and press Start.

*Edited to add: Unfortunately, I'm not sure about cycle times - since I just throw everything into the bread machine, it would be a guess at best. The whole cycle takes 3:30, the bread dough rises 3x, and it bakes for somewhere between 50-60 minutes...

And for those of you who have recently asked me, "what are you doing with all your free time, now that you're out of school" or "how has getting an MBA changed you" or some variant along these lines, I'd refer you to the analysis above.

MBA = analytical dork. Yep, that's me.

1 comment:

  1. you need to list some cycle times in your baking process...