13 ways to beat the rising cost of bread
As noted earlier, two of the world’s largest wheat exporters are Russia and Ukraine. Wheat prices jumped after Russia’s military invasion of its neighbor – and they were already on the rise, according to CNN.
I already knew that. In March 2021, my partner and I paid $16.49 for 50 pounds of bread flour at Costco. In early March 2022, the same bag of flour cost us $24.99, an increase of 51.5% in just one year!
Once the prices have gone up, what is the probability that they will go down again?
If you’re a household that can’t live without sandwiches, toast, or a bread basket for dinner, here are some ways to keep costs affordable.
1. Hit the Bakery
Many bakeries and supermarkets send surplus items to factory outlets. Sometimes it’s leftover holiday merchandise, like jars of Christmas cookies, and sometimes it’s because they didn’t sell as many burger rolls as they thought they would for Memorial Day.
Is it “old” bread? Sometimes these items are a day or two away from their expiration date (although that probably doesn’t mean what you think). Again, some of the bread I see in the supermarket is too.
That doesn’t mean that some the articles will not be old. The bakery near me has bags of donuts and boxes of Little Debbie cupcakes that are at or even past their best before dates. My niece’s kids don’t seem to care.
My partner and I buy our multigrain bread this way, paying $1-$1.50 per loaf. Depending on what’s available, we also buy things like good quality sandwiches, Boboli pizza shells, bagels, English muffins, tortillas, onion rolls, corn chips, pretzels, coffee and canned sardines.
Learn more about “How I buy bread for $1 or less”.
2. Monitor loss leaders
Supermarkets put certain items on sale to get you into the store, hoping that you will do all your shopping there. If you see your household’s favorite bread listed among these loss leaders, buy it.
Or buy several and freeze the extras. According to the United States Department of Agriculturethe bread will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
3. Try the store brand
Inflation has brought generics back into fashion. The Wall Street Journal reports that the shift to private label is one of four ways shoppers are stretching their food budget.
Is there a big difference between brand name multigrain bread and your supermarket version? Maybe, maybe not. Try it and see.
Pro Tip: If store brand bread doesn’t taste the same in sandwiches, try using it for the toast you eat for breakfast. The change in texture — plus butter and jam — might make generic grains more palatable. Then buy branded products for your lunches.
4. Use shopping apps
Apps like Ibotta, Kick, Receipt Hog, and Coupons.com offer points and/or cashback for purchasing (and sometimes even just for scanning) certain products. Bread, tortillas and crackers are featured on these apps. Sign up and keep an eye on the things your household eats.
Pro tip: CouponMom.com brings together all of these offers, state by state. And my article on rewards programs explains things in detail.
5. Make your own
The aroma of freshly baked bread is a little slice (so to speak) of heaven. And it’s not that hard to do. Some recipes call primarily for flour, salt, water, and yeast, as well as the fifth ingredient: time.
And that Is take time. Instant bread does not exist. Some people find the process soothing, whether it’s stirring, kneading, or watching the dough rise.
Too much work? You do not have the time ? Then consider the following advice…
6. Get a bread machine (cheap)
Head to the thrift store and find a bread maker – they’re almost always there – and you’ll see how simple it can be. No kneading necessary!
Bonus: you can use the timer on the machine to wake up to fresh bread or to go home. (Tip: Freshly baked bread can turn leftovers into a banquet.)
Another super easy (and incredibly tasty) way to get no-knead bread is to…
7. Be rustic
Learn to love rustic bread and make longer, leaner sandwiches instead of the little square sandwiches most of us grew up eating. There’s a simple rustic bread recipe (four ingredients and zero kneading) in “7 Healthy Foods You Can Make for a Fraction of the Cost.”
Parchment paper is recommended for this recipe. Find out how to get the most out of this baking staple in “My Tip for Saving Up to 80% on Parchment Paper.”
Whether you make bread by hand, with a bread machine, or the rustic no-knead route, it’s likely to be cheaper than buying it. As flour prices rise and supermarket yeast can be expensive, there are several ways to cut costs.
For starters, it’s more cost effective to get yeast per jar instead of those three-pack strips. You can also significantly reduce the cost of yeast and flour if you…
8. Get a Warehouse Club Membership
If there’s a Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s Wholesale Club near you, get a membership. We live in Anchorage, Alaska and last paid about $4.29 for a grind of yeast and $24.99 for 50 pounds of bread flour. (These places also sell flour in smaller quantities for those with limited storage space.)
Alternate plan: Do you know anyone with one of these subscriptions? Ask them to take you shopping.
Don’t live near a warehouse club? There is yet another way to buy in bulk…
9. Visit a restaurant supply store
These emporia exist to provide food (and tools) for restoration. Here’s the fun part: they’re often open to the general public as well.
A professional baker gets discounted flour and yeast from these places. You can also.
No catering supply stores in your area? A few other options exist…
10. Watch for special sales
Flour usually goes on sale before Easter and also before the winter holidays, which are closely associated with pies and cookies.
When you see it at an incredible price, buy a few more bags and store them in a cool, dry place. You can also store the flour in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a year. according to AllRecipes.com.
To note: Illustrated cooks suggests bringing flour to room temperature before baking. Otherwise, the finished product will likely have a “denser, chewier” texture.
Can’t wait for the holidays? Maybe you could…
11. Redeem rewards points
Or use the card to get flour, if you decide to cook. Frugal bonus points if you combine a free gift card with a knock-on sale price.
Rewards credit cards also allow you to cash in gift cards at places that sell bread (or bakery). To learn more about the best rewards card options, visit the Money Talks News solution center to compare available credit cards.
12. Become a packaging artist
Sandwiches don’t live on bread alone! Make a less expensive version by switching to wraps, which are nothing more than sandwiches made with tortillas instead of bread.
Spread the condiments on the tortilla, layer the toppings and roll up. If you want to get fancy, you can cut it into little spirals of goodness, or you can just eat it like a burrito.
Note: Tortillas can often be found in bakeries at ridiculously low prices. I paid as little as $3 for a case of these malleable flatbreads.
Finally, you could learn to…
13. Kiss the cracker!
Man does not live on bread alone! You do not have still need bread with soup. That’s why we always keep savory on hand – to make soup suppers seem more substantial.
While cracker prices will likely rise with bread prices, they have a much longer shelf life than bread. By the way, if you’ve ever had to throw away a loaf because mold has crept in, take a minute to read “4 Simple Tricks to Keep Your Bread Fresh for a Month.”
Pro Tip: Crackers are often a loss leader, especially during holidays and special occasions like the Super Bowl. Since they are often featured on the previously mentioned shopping apps, combine the sale price and discounts to get the best deal possible. Buy as many as you can at these low prices, paying attention to expiration dates on bundles.
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