I love good bread. In fact, a great baguette or fresh Turkish pide pretty much top my list of favourite foods.

The trouble is that I get indigestion at the thought of spending $5 or more on a loaf, which in reality contains little more than flour, water, yeast and oil/fat.

If I acceded to my children's demands I'd be buying MacKenzie bread at $5.11 a loaf - just for half of it to be left uneaten in their lunchboxes.

My answer to this dilemma is my 8-year-old Panasonic breadmaker, which gets a hammering in our household.

For many years I wondered just how much it cost to make bread in the breadmaker. Was I fooling myself into thinking I was saving money? As it turns out, Consumer magazine answered that question in a recent issue. If you buy ingredients in bulk you can make a 750g loaf of white bread for less than $2, including electricity costs. That's a huge saving compared with buying MacKenzie or other premium supermarket brands.

I should point out that you can pick up a Budget brand or Pam's loaf at the supermarket for less than $2. This is, however, comparing apples and oranges. The savings of home bread making really stack up when it comes to speciality loaves, such as my beloved pide.

Especially popular in our household are the pizza bases which I make once a week - which cost a fraction of those expensive boutique pizza bases from the supermarket.

There is also the question of time - and I'm on record in saying that time costs money. I never make just one loaf. If I'm measuring out ingredients, I line up four or five ice cream boxes and fill them with dry ingredients, with each one having a slightly different mix for variety. What's more, it takes less time to load a loaf into the breadmaker than to dash to the dairy or supermarket when I run out of bread.

I've come across Mybreadmix.co.nz, which offers mainstream and obscure bread-making supplies such as light spelt (dinkel) and roasted barley malt flour at reasonable prices. But I sometimes wonder about bread-making mixes. I have all the ingredients at home for a variety of loaves, so I've never bothered trying them.

However, earlier this month while on holiday I picked up a Breadmaking Made Easy foccacia breadmix from The Bin Inn. The 1.5kg pack cost $6.50 and made three high-quality loaves, which by my estimate cost a third to a half of the price of such loaves at specialist bakeries. And I wasn't paying for the electricity.

diana@bargainbetty.co.nz