More than any other commodities, bread seems to be the item that has the largest range in quality and price. At the low end it is possible to get bread for under a dollar while high end artisan bread might be up to $7 a loaf.
When I first moved to the US I found the grocery store bread to be almost inedible, I found it very sweet and very expensive for what you got. I was used to getting good quality bread for very cheap prices (in the UK you can still get a good quality supermarket loaf for around 50p equivalent to about 75c).
Things have definitely improved though in the last 10 years or so. We now get good quality loaves from our grocery store for about $1.50. This isn’t just your usual white or wheat bread, we can get multigrain or seeded bread and it’s pretty good.
At the higher end we have bakeries here in town like Grand Central Bakery. Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to support local bakeries and places, but I just can’t justify paying $6 to $7 for a loaf of bread. Especially for making kids lunches – they certainly aren’t going to appreciate that the bread is 5 times the cost. In fact that will probably actively dislike it as it is “full of bits!”.
Bread is a staple so it’s not as if we can get away with not buying it. It’s just a matter of balancing in the cost. As a side note, buying pre-made sandwiches is not a great strategy for those on a budget. At the cheaper end (Subway for example) they start at $2.99, but at the high end can be $10.
So the other option is to make it yourself. We have a bread maker, and it makes good bread. It’s tough to work out the exact cost, but I think it’s about the same as a mid range loaf of bread, if you include the 4 hours of electricity it costs to make. However the big issue with home made bread is because it is not full of preservatives it doesn’t keep. It’s great for serving up with a “nice meal” however if it’s not eaten that evening, it’ll be dry and inedible by the morning.
There is no doubt that the fancy bakery bread is better and healthier, but with the sheer amount of bread we go through (kid’s lunches every day add up!) there is just no sense in buying it.