Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bake It -- Don't Buy It: Using a Bread Machine & Homemade Sandwich Bread

Join me each day this week as I take you through making a different item homemade!

One of the most essential tools I use to save money by baking from scratch is my bread machine. When reviewing our grocery budget this summer, I realized that the healthy whole wheat sandwich bread that I was buying cost a significant amount of money. Rather than switch to what I call "spongey" bread, I wanted to try making sandwich bread myself, but I thought it would be too time consuming.

My mom suggested getting a bread machine, and I was able to obtain one for free from Freecycle. (It would also probably be relatively easy to find one in a thrift shop. It is the sort of item that people get and don't use and eventually give away!) Honestly, even a new one would probably pay for itself in a matter of months, if you really used it.

I loved my bread machine from day one. It is amazing that you can spend 10 minutes layering the ingredients in the pan (15-20 minutes if a toddler is "helping"), turn on the machine, and four hours later you have a loaf of homemade bread. There are also many recipes for which you use the "dough" cycle on the machine, take out the dough, and bake it in your regular oven. Even then, the machine saves a lot of time and effort.

Since getting my bread machine, I have made about two loaves of sandwich bread per week. I have also made french bread, pizza dough, foccacia, dinner rolls, and bagels (more on homemade bagels later in the week). Nevertheless, I feel that I have barely scratched the surface of bread machine recipes out there. I'd eventually like to try more whole wheat bread recipes until I find the perfect sandwich bread, although I am happy with this one for now.

Final Analysis: A bread machine is a completely worthwhile investment if used. It can make much more than plain bread, and it saves a significant amount of time over non-machine homemade bread. Using a bread machine, sandwich bread is simple to make and better and fresher than store bought. At a third of the price, what's not to love?

Approximate costs:

Store bought: About $2.50-$3.99/loaf for Arnold whole wheat or multigrain
Homemade: About $.77/loaf (2/3 whole wheat)


  1. Liz,

    Do you also bake in the oven and not in the bread machine? Does it taste that different?

    I also received a free bread maker and plan on using it more instead of buying bread products.


  2. I bake the current recipe of sandwich bread that I make in the regular oven, but I usually bake my french bread right in the bread machine. You really can't beat baking it in the bread machine for convenience, but the texture is a little different.

    I would say that it is a little less dense when baked in the bread machine, and of course the loaf is a large square size. You just kind of have to experiment what works best with different kinds of bread.


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