Despite the disadvantages of baking homemade bread with a bread machine, owning one is worth it. The list of benefits definitely outweighs the potential downsides.
The price of the machine seems to be the biggest obstacle to starting a bread-making journey.
However, by my calculations, a bread maker is worth it. One could save between 22.88 USD and 123.76 USD the first year by baking two white loaves per week for 52 weeks.
If a person buys expensive nut breads at their local bakery, they will save, too, by making their nut bread at home, even if nuts are expensive. Buying ingredients in bulk can be an amazing option to save even more money with a bread machine.
Homemade bread is free of additives and, if made with quality ingredients, healthy and filling. These are more reasons why bread machines are worth the expense. Nothing can beat the nutrients of fresh, premium food.
Before buying a bread maker, it is recommended to ask yourself what your needs are. This step is essential in buying the right machine for your family. There is no point in buying a 450 USD machine if you only plan to bake a loaf every month, for example.
Another good way to decide how much to invest in a new bread maker is going through a few grocery bills. Examining the prices of all bread products bought will help make the situation clearer.
Regardless, there is, it seems, a bread machine for all levels, spaces and budgets. It is only a matter of doing some research before making a final decision. If only for the smell of fresh bread in the morning, the purchase will be worth it.
How Much Does a Bread Maker Cost to Buy?
Depending on their needs, one can buy a bread maker at different prices. A lot of factors influence how much this kitchen appliance costs. The size, bread capacity, programs, quality, materials and accessories all impact the price tag.
A few models are available for less than 100 USD. Companies like Breadman, Hamilton Beach and Oster manufacture affordable bread makers. These are usually perfect for families of two or people living alone.
Over 120 USD, we start seeing a bigger selection of automatic bread makers. Consumers willing to spend between 120 USD and 200 USD can get their hands on models made of quality materials such as stainless steel.
Most of these appliances have more programs than their cheaper counterparts. Around 150 USD, you see gluten-free programs, fast cycles and crust shade options appear.
Some models also have jam, yogurt and even dumpling dough programs included. At that price, the bread capacity is usually 1.5 to 2 pounds, perfect for a family of four.
For people looking for a high-level bread machine, there are plenty of choices between 200 USD and 500 USD. Companies such as Breville and Zojirushi build strong machines that last over time.
The more one pays, the more features they get. For example, some bread makers have an automatic dispenser for add-ins, a sourdough starter cycle or two paddles for even mixing.
In a big kitchen, a large machine with 30 programs might be ideal. For occasional use or small families, yet, there are options at a much lower price.
How Much Does a Bread Maker Cost to Run?
Most bread makers consume around 500 watts of energy. Usually, if the machine is on the smaller side, the amount of energy used also will be. The higher the wattage, though, the more heat your bread maker will be able to produce in a short amount of time.
Bigger machines can reach close to 1000 watts, making this a parameter to check before buying the appliance. One also has to take into consideration the length of the programs that they will use, as some can go over the average of three to four hours.
Of course, a person using their bread maker, for example, three times per week will consume more energy than someone using it once a week. Since a bread machine bakes one loaf at a time, it might need a few cycles to feed a family of four for the week.
Most resources online agree that the total amount of energy necessary to prepare a white loaf of bread is between 0.36-0.41 kilowatt hour (kWh). If we use the 13.08 cents per kWh U.S. average (as of May 28th), it gives us a rate of 4.71 to 5.36 cents. For each standard loaf one bakes, then, it costs 0.05 USD in electricity.
Let us compare this price with the cost of baking a loaf of bread in a standard electrical oven. This appliance has a range of 1,000 to 5,000 watts with an average of 2,400 to 3,000 watts. Assuming we bake a loaf for 30 minutes at a medium-high temperature, which is typical, the cost would be 15.70 to 19.62 cents or 0.16 USD to 0.20 USD.
Even if one decides to bake their three weekly loaves in the oven at once, the price would not change. To prepare three loaves with a bread maker, though, the machine needs to run three times. The cost would, then, come up to 0.15 USD for the week.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy the Ingredients to Make Bread in a Bread Maker?
The cost of the ingredients needed for a bread recipe will vary depending on the type of bread prepared, as well as its size. Whole-grain breads with add-ins such as walnuts and dried cranberries can be quite expensive to make at home.
As well, one will spend more on their ingredients if they value their quality and buy organic products or specific well-known brands. The needs of each family are different and their grocery store bill will not look the same.
To give an estimate to people considering buying a bread maker, let us break down the cost of the ingredients for a simple 1.5-pound white bread recipe. We would need 3.5 cups of all-purpose white flour, 1 tablespoon of cane sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2.5 teaspoons of active dry yeast and some water.
First, there is no cost associated with the water. Second, if we decide to buy a 5-pound bag (usually more cost-effective) of all-purpose white flour from a generic brand, we would pay 3.39 USD at Whole Foods Market. For that price, we get a bit more than 17 cups of flour, which means five loaves at 0.68 USD each.
Choosing a 2-pound bag of organic King Arthur Flour all-purpose white flour would come up to 4.29 USD, which allows one to prepare two loaves at 2.15 USD each. There would be quite a difference in the final cost of the bread baked depending on the flour chosen.
Third, a 4-pound bag of cane sugar from a generic brand at Whole Foods goes for 3.29 USD. With about 9 cups of sugar, one could make 72 times the recipe above. Each time, the sugar cost would be 0.05 USD.
However, a 2-pound bag of organic cane sugar from the company Wholesome sells for 6.69 USD. With a bag half the size of the other, one could produce 36 loaves of bread. Each loaf would need 0.19 USD worth of cane sugar.
Fourth, salt would not be a very expensive ingredient in the recipe. A 16-ounce box of standard kosher salt is 3.69 USD at Whole Foods. With such a box, one could repeat the bread recipe 50 times, which would bring the cost up to 0.07 USD per loaf.
Finally, yeast is of major importance in the bread-making process. Here, for each loaf, one needs to include about 7 grams of active dry yeast. Buying a 4-ounce jar of Fleischmann’s active dry yeast costs 7.69 USD at Whole Foods. With that much yeast, one could prepare 16 loaves of bread at 0.48 USD each.
If one rarely bakes, it is best to use yeast packets, as an opened jar of yeast will only last three to four months in the fridge. For three Red Star active dry yeast envelopes, the cost is 2.69 USD. Each packet is enough for one loaf, meaning that the cost per bread would be 0.90 USD.
If we put all this data together, it provides us a cost estimate for baking one white loaf in a bread maker. Depending on the ingredients chosen, the cost of a 1.5-pound loaf would be anywhere between 1.28 USD and 3.31 USD.
How Does the Cost of Running a Bread Maker Compare with the Cost of a Loaf of Bread?
To compare baking your own bread with a bread maker and buying a loaf while doing weekly errands, we will examine three products. All are standard white loaves of 1.5 pounds.
A white sandwich bread from a generic brand sells for 2.99 USD at Whole Foods. In the same store, Vermont Bread Company has an organic soft white bread for 4.99 USD. Looking for high-quality white bread? The company Dave’s Killer Bread also sells an organic white bread, this time for 5.99 USD for a 1.5-pound loaf.
For each standard white bread bought at the grocery store, a customer will pay a total of 2.99 USD to 5.99 USD. Buying bread at a local bakery will usually bring the bill up even higher, depending on the location.
Baking a loaf of the same size at home costs between 1.28 USD to 3.31 USD for the ingredients, plus 0.05 USD for the energy consumption. The total for one loaf would, then, be 1.33 USD to 3.36 USD.
This estimate does not include the initial cost of the machine. Let us use the example of a bread maker worth 150 USD, as there are many sold at that price. If we divide this initial expense by 104 (two loaves every week, for 52 weeks), we get a cost of 1.44 USD for each bread baked.
If the ingredients and energy for one loaf cost 1.33 USD to 3.36 USD, then, one loaf would cost a total of 2.77 USD to 4.80 USD. This scenario only works if one bakes a total of 104 loaves within the year.
The price range for making bread with a bread machine remains lower than the price range for white bread bought at the grocery store. It is, as a result, possible to save between 0.22 USD and 1.19 USD per loaf in the first year of owning a bread maker.
What Are the Benefits of a Bread Maker?
Besides the potential savings, the biggest benefit of owning a bread maker is the control it gives you over your food. Who does not like eating fresh, warm bread in the morning? With a bread machine, there is no need to run to the bakery at 7 a.m.
Most bread machines come with programs that allow for a delayed start. It means that you can put all your ingredients in the machine, go to bed and wake up to a nice loaf, ready for breakfast. It also works if you want fresh dinner rolls, since you can program your machine to start while you are at work.
Another huge advantage of homemade bread is the selection of its ingredients. You can choose ingredients that reflect your needs, e.g. if you have allergies or dietary restrictions.
You also know exactly what goes inside your loaf. At the supermarket, loaves often contain additives to ensure they keep for a long period of time. At home, this is unnecessary. Baking your own bread allows you to eat fresh, additive-free food every day.
A lot of people would not bake bread if it were not for bread machines. It is one of those undertakings that intimidate even the most experienced cooks.
With a bread maker, there is no need to worry about the kneading, the proofing, the baking and every step in between. The appliance does it all, especially with the fanciest models, that have programed dispensers for yeast and add-ins.
Non-bakers can feel confident that their bread will be edible, no matter their level of experience. Even more so, it allows for much experimentation, since there are a ton of bread maker recipes available online. Plus, the process is mess-free, without the risk of flour covering every corner of the kitchen.
Heating an oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit in warm summer temperatures is never pleasant. A bread machine uses less energy and produces less heat than a standard electrical oven. This means that the kitchen will not transform into an unbearable place.
As mentioned earlier, bread makers are more than bread machines. Another benefit of these appliances is their potential to do much more than bread. One can indeed prepare pizza and pasta dough, jams and compotes, yogurt, cakes, etc. with their bread maker.
Depending on the model, a bread maker gives a cook a ton of freedom in the kitchen. It controls the exact temperature inside the machine, a necessity for many precise preparations.
What Are the Drawbacks of a Bread Maker?
As convenient as they are, bread machines are still more work than buying a loaf during a weekly grocery visit. Assuming one is already at the store, it requires next to no energy to grab a loaf of bread and buy it.
For people who are very specific about how they like their bread, it might take a lot of trial and error to arrive at a satisfying result at home. Some might determine that it is not worth it energy-wise.
Also, only one loaf of bread can bake at once. This differs from the possibility of buying a few loaves at the store.
As well, making homemade bread requires a bit of planning. There are a few ingredients essential to the process that one needs to buy beforehand. In addition, the different add-ins or flours chosen to experiment with can result in a high grocery bill. Nuts and gluten-free flour mixes, for example, tend to be quite expensive.
Speaking of investment, there is no way around the fact that buying a bread machine is a big expense from the onset. If used regularly, it will pay for itself. The initial cost, though, needs to be covered without a guarantee of payback.
Another disadvantage of bread makers is their size. Of course, some are smaller than others, but most take quite a bit of counter space. In a small apartment, a new kitchen appliance might be a challenge requiring a lot of reorganizing.
Ultimately, basic models might become an issue if you plan on experimenting in the kitchen. For example, some machines do not allow the user to enter manual settings. It is a good idea to consider such details when shopping for a bread machine.