Which bread is better: Homemade or store-bought?
I’ve seen this question asked and answered MANY times, as I’m sure you have too. How many loaves of bread can you make with the money used to buy a loaf? Is store-bought bread bad for you? What is healthy bread?
For a long time, I’ve wanted to put together a list of pros and cons because all the info out there can get REALLY confusing. I’ve made my own fresh bread many times, and buy a loaf almost every week; but I’ve never really sat down to figure out which is better.
In this post, I’m comparing a store-bought loaf to a homemade loaf in different categories: Ingredients, nutrition, cost, and effort.
This graphic has a quick overview, but be sure to read further for more details!
For this experiment, I bought the Aldi brand standard white commercial bread. Aldi has SO many types of bread; but I wanted to keep this part simple. It was the cheapest loaf and seemed to be the most popular.
When you take a look at the ingredient list, you see a lot of words you may not be able to pronounce. And some people go by the rule of “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it”.
But honestly, it’s not as scary as it seems. Let me break some of this down for you.
- Niacin: Vitamin B3
- Thiamin mononitrate: Vitamin B1
- Riboflavin: Vitamin B2
- Folic acid: Vitamin B9
- Calcium sulfate: Dough conditioner/strengthener, increases shelf life
- Diammonium phosphate: A nutrient for yeast
This bread has a combination of added vitamins, as well as stabilizers to increase shelf life. It’s also made with white flour instead of whole wheat, which means its been stripped of certain nutrients and fiber.
Some people are nervous about preservatives in food, and that’s okay. You have to do what’s best for you and your family. Preservatives tend to get a bad rap, but they can be useful if you can’t get to your local grocery store and need food to last longer.
- 130 calories for 2 slices
- 25 grams of carbs
- 1 gram of fiber
- 3 grams of added sugar
- 4 grams of protein
None of this is “good” or “bad”, but just information for you. If you’re trying to increase your fiber intake, you might want to find a different kind of bread.
The nutritional value besides that is not too bad. This bread is fortified with extra vitamins, which is useful if you don’t usually get enough.
You just have to know what your body needs and what to buy to fuel it!
This loaf was 95 cents. It’s a standard price for a standard loaf of bread, and really good if you’re on a budget.
You don’t have to buy all the ingredients like yeast, flour… if all you have is a dollar, then buying a loaf is the way to go.
Simple. You go to the store, you buy it, you’re done. No waiting for the dough to rise, for the loaf to bake in the oven… it’s ready to eat and a great way to get quick carbs.
When you have a busy schedule, sometimes the best thing for you is to buy a convenient loaf.
For this experiment, I made this Honey Whole Wheat Bread. It’s not a one-to-one comparison, but it’s the type of bread I would typically make for my family. Plus, it makes TWO loaves; so I get more with the same amount of effort. And you don’t even need a bread maker.
Here is the ingredient list for this bread:
- Whole wheat flour
- All purpose flour
It’s a much smaller ingredient list than the store-bought loaf, and fewer additives. Again, that doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. The store-bought has added nutrients, while this homemade loaf does not.
This loaf also contains basic ingredients that I usually keep in the house. Yeast may not be something you have on a regular basis, and that’s fine!
- 198 calories for 2 slices
- 43 grams of carbs
- 3 grams of fiber
- 6 grams of sugars
- 6 grams of protein
This bread has slightly more protein than the store-bought, and more than double the fiber. This can help keep you full for longer periods of time.
A lot of this is due to the whole wheat flour. Whole grain flours aren’t typically stripped of nutrients like white flour, so this is a good way to get in extra fiber.
The cost can get a little tricky. You do pay more up front for all the ingredients; but you’ll have a lot left over to make more bread in the future.
Here’s a breakdown of the cost, both for the entire package and just the amount used for the recipe:
- Whole wheat flour: $4.69 for 5-lb bag, $1.05 for the recipe
- All purpose flour: $1.35 for 5-lb bag, $.20 for the recipe
- Yeast: $4.99 for 4-oz jar, $.93 for the recipe
- Salt: $.49 for 26-oz container, $.01 for the recipe
- Honey: $3.99 for 12-oz jar, $1.50 for the recipe
- Butter: $3.00 for a 1-pound box, $.38 for the recipe
- Total cost: $4.07, or $2.03 per loaf
Now as you can see, this particular recipe can be more expensive. I used whole wheat flour and honey, which really drove up the price.
If you were to make a standard white loaf, it would probably come out to about 75 cents or less per loaf.
Also, I’m not including electricity cost in this. It may cost a couple extra cents to use the oven, but not enough to sway me one way or the other.
Yes, homemade bread can take quite awhile to make. Whether you use a stand mixer or a bread machine, the process is long.
You have to mix the dough, let it rise, knead the dough, let it rise again, and then bake it.
Honestly, the whole process can take up to 3 hours. You probably only have about 20 minutes total of hands-on time, but not everybody has 3 hours to sit at home.
So here’s the ultimate question: Which one is the best? Store-bought or homemade?
And my (non-professional) opinion is:
If you have the time, and your family eats a lot of bread, make homemade.
If you’re on a budget and/or don’t have much time, buy store-bought.
Honestly, there is no “healthiest” bread, because our standard of “healthy” is so different from one another. My version of healthier bread may not need fiber, but yours might.
I believe a loaf of homemade bread tastes SO much better than store-bought, yet most weeks I usually just buy a loaf. It all depends on my mood.
Maybe you can try making a loaf for special occasions just to see if you like it. Honestly, there’s nothing better than your own homemade bread.
In either case, I hope all of this makes sense to you. In the long run, the decision to make vs. buy your own bread is personal, and this info should give you insights on the differences!