Thrifty Thursdays: Make Your Own Bread in Five Minutes (and Three Hours)

bread machine breadHave you ever woken up to the smell of freshly baked cinnamon raisin bread? Or come down in the middle of the afternoon from working in your home office to the scent of a loaf of country white bread wafting through the first floor? I have. Frequently.

No, I don’t live above a bakery. I have a bread machine.

It makes delicious, fresh bread for much less than I’d pay for it at the store. I’ve never done a cost break down, but I’m going to guess that for my basic white bread, it costs about $1 a loaf. And, the average loaf takes me less than five minutes to throw together, plus the three hours or so that it takes the machine to do its magic.

My bread machine also has a dough cycle. That means that I can still bake bread in my oven if I want, but the bread machine will do all the mixing and kneading for me. It comes in handy when I’m making pizza dough.

“Sure,” you’re thinking, “making bread doesn’t cost a lot in a bread machine, but what about the machine itself? Won’t it cost a fortune?”

Well, yes, some bread machines cost a lot of money. But they don’t have to. I bought mine several years ago for $30 at an outlet store. It was refurbished. It’s worked great for years. It doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles on it that some newer, expensive models have, but it still bakes a mean loaf of Sally Lunn. There are other ways you can get a bread machine without spending hundreds of dollars.

  • Check out local thrift stores. Last time I was at my local Good Will store I saw several bead machines in the appliance section.
  • Put a request out on Freecycle. Freecycle is a website where people can list items they don’t want anymore and people who live in their area can e-mail them and request the item. You can also ask for items they would like on Freecycle. If someone has the item sitting and collecting dust, they just may give it to you.
  • Send out an e-mail request to friends and family. You never know who may have gotten a bread machine as a wedding or other gift and still has it sitting unopened in the box.
  • Check Craigslist or eBay for ones that are for sale.

Even if you have to pay a little bit for your bread machine, it will eventually pay for itself in savings. Plus, you can control the ingredients that you put in the bread. There will be no preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated oils in your homemade bread. It’s easy to make your bread all natural – all organic if that’s what you prefer.

My go-to cookbook for my bread machine is The Bread Machine Cookbook (catchy title, huh?) by Donna Rathmell German. But you don’t even need to invest money in a cookbook to find great bread machine recipes. Many recipe websites like allrecipes.com have sections devoted to bread machines.

Someday, I’d like to try my hand at making bread the old fashioned way – completely by hand. But right now, my life doesn’t allow me the time to do that. But my bread machine allows me to have fresh, delicious, healthy, inexpensive bread every day, and I don’t have to run out to the grocery store to get it.

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About the Author

Robin and her family began to take a look at how their actions affected the environment a couple years ago when her son (who was six at the time) wanted to know why they were killing the earth with their SUV. They traded in the SUV for a hybrid, and Robin began educating herself and making small changes in how the family did every day things. She also began to write about those changes for various magazines, websites and blogs including her own blog www.alittlegreenereveryday.com. She is committed to sharing what she learns about sustainability and being green because she believes that if she can make these changes, anyone can. Robin holds a B.S. in Bible from Philadelphia Biblical University and a K-12 English teaching certification from Rowan University. She taught high school English before leaving that career to raise her two sons. She now has a successful freelance writing career, writing about many things green and a variety of other topics.
  • Jenn

    this is too funny – I just found a $10 bread machine on craigslist that I’m buying today! I’m looking forward to experimenting; I’m also hoping it will be a good way to sneak some veggies past my toddler’s picky palate!

  • I’m going to give a shout out to the “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. You mix up the recipe (usually yeast, water, flour, salt) and then let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day – or any day in the next 2 weeks – you shape it and bake it. And one recipe usually yields enough for 4 loaves. I did buy a pizza stone, but otherwise there’s no specialized equipment. All of the bread I’ve made has turned out amazing. I’ve recently been making lots of pizza with it, with our farm share vegetables. http://tragicoptimist.wordpress.com/tag/bread

  • I love making my own bread! I don’t have a bread machine, but I did just get bequeathed a 70’s standing mixer with dough hooks. I made a mean challah this week. I also make my own pizza dough, because it’s really easy.

  • Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I’d actually like to see the economic cost breakdown of baking your own versus getting bread at a local bakery (or even the big box store bakery).

  • I like the fact that every time I make a loaf of bread in the machine, that’s a plastic bag I don’t bring home from the store. As I buy more of my bread ingredients in bigger sizes and even my own reusable containers, that means way less packaging.

    And the Goodwills in this town are full of bread machines.

  • I love baking my own bread. I haven’t done a cost breakdown either, but considering it’s rare in my area to see a loaf for under $2, with $3 being more typical, I would rather bake my own.

    Add in the satisfaction of making my own and knowing what has gone into it, plus the smell, and I think it’s a great deal.

  • Bellen

    Have been baking my own bread for almost 35 years – some years more than others. Now, with our $7 heavy duty bread machine from the thrift store I’m back to baking 2 times a week. I also grind my own grain so I have truly 100% WW bread. I use bulk yeast to save on costs. Also I add 1 teaspoon baking powder (bought in bulk) to increase rising of WW bread.

    Cost per 2 pound loaf is about $.90 for a plain loaf.
    Increases if adding dried fruit, nuts, etc.

  • It’s so great to see how many people are making their own bread. I’m sorry I don’t have an exact cost break down, but there is no doubt in my mind that the white loaf I make for sandwiches costs less than the 2.89 white loaf I would buy from the store – and I know the ingredients in it are much better.

  • Ok so guess I’m making a trip to the thrift store:)

  • I started with a bread machine, but then moved to using the Kitchen Aid stand mixer to knead it, and bake it in the oven. The bread machine just doesn’t do the rising and baking the way I’d like. The bonus is my kids love helping and watching it rise, and can’t wait to eat it. Now, after being the lucky recipient of a Vitamix for Christmas, I buy wheat berries from Whole Foods and grind my own flour too…
    I”m still experimenting, but it’s heavenly.

  • nice post, home made bread is the best option for home cooking.
    oster bread machine

  • Add in the satisfaction of making my own and knowing what has gone into it, plus the smell, and I think it’s a great deal.

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