Is DIY worth it? A Slightly Different Way to Decide

For example, take bread. Probably the cheapest way get a year’s worth of bread would be to grow your own grain, grind it into flour, use a DIY sourdough starter and then make bread as needed. Of course, if you live in a city apartment, that alternative is just nonsense. If you’re working 3 part-time jobs to make ends meet, it’s also nonsense.

Frequently, you’re trading your time and efforts for money. To decide if it’s worth doing something like baking your own bread you can go one of two directions. You can price it out by ingredients, or you can decide the effort is worthwhile based on the other factors: the time and effort to avoid DIY.

To compare store bread,  in my area  to making my own:

I based it on what I’d make if I made bread as an unskilled job.  (I’m not a professional baker.) If  I make $10/hour and baking bread takes 3 hours a week, that’s approx. $30/week.  (Yes, it ignores the fact that you don’t spend all 3 hours making bread, I know and doesn’t talk about the fact that the recipe I use make 2 loaves at once.)

In our neighborhood, a loaf of the bread we like is about $5, we use an average of 2 loaves a week, or $10. Bread takes 3 hours start to finish for 2 loaves here, or $30 of my time. On the face of it, it would  seem to be cheaper to buy it than make it. ($10 for store bought as opposed to $30 for DIY.)

There are the other factors: we’re about 11.5 miles from the closest supermarket. At $3/gallon for gas, that’s about another $5.50 in gas, for two round trips.* That makes our weekly total,  about $35.50 (baking time + gasoline). Also, that 11.5 miles takes about 1/2 an hour to drive each way, so that’s another $10 in time spent, per trip.

So you have DIY= (time without fuel for baking or materials=) $30
Buying from a store $20 (driving time x 2) + $5.50 (gas) + $10 for the bread.=$35.50

For us, it’s cheaper to make our own bread using time and fuel as well as the final product to compare. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary!

What prompted this blog was the many price comparisons based only on ingredients for  DIY vs. store bought. The best approach would be to include all of the above factors AND all the ingredients and fuel to bake bread. However, that would include things I do not know, how much fuel my stove (propane) uses in an hour of baking time, for example.

If you use a partial DIY alternative, like buying frozen bread dough, you can cut the time factor down for DIY to simply the hour and a half to let the bread rise and then bake it.

So  a partial  DIY= (time without fuel or materials=) $15 Which is of course cheaper still!

And no, I do not have a price handy for frozen bread dough. I’ll have to look the next time I go to the market! Bread dough is usually sold in 3 or 4 packs.

So would it be cheaper to bake your own bread or not? You decide!
*I don’t know about you, but I almost never actually buy 2 loaves of bread at a time, so we end up making two trips a week. If you eliminate the 2nd trip, making bread at home or buying it at the market are almost equal. You know yourself best!

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2 responses to “Is DIY worth it? A Slightly Different Way to Decide

  1. Great way of looking at things! I’d love to add, too, that there are always DIY shortcuts to pretty much everything and one of them is Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day! I too had to weigh in on the benefits/drawbacks of baking ALL my own bread (not all bread is suitable for all purposes, in my opinion!) but in a pinch, for toast or dinner, this recipe works really well, and really only does take 5 minutes to shape the loaf, 30 minutes to rise and then bake. Now if we could compile more shortcuts like that… life would be awesome. I need one for mowing my lawn. I really really do. http://www.culinarycovers.com/2009/10/artisan-bread-in-five-minutes-a-day-the-master-recipe/

  2. I love the 5 mins a day bread idea. I frequently use a yogurt bread recipe that’s a single rise, takes 1.5 hours start to finish.

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