Budget-Friendly Bread Recipe

This is a simple and affordable bread recipe that produces a basic loaf using easy-to-find ingredients.

But don’t let it fool you… this simple loaf is still so soft and delicious you’ll make it even when you’re feeling rich 😉.

baked loaf of bread dusted with flour.

Cheap Bread Recipe

Bread on a budget. No expensive ingredients, nothing weird you have to buy, and you'll get a loaf that your family and your bank account will love.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Rising time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Serving Size 12 slices

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • teaspoons instant or active dry yeast

Instructions 

  • Mix the ingredients. Add all ingredients to the bowl of an electric stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Combine until a dough forms that holds together and does not stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl.
  • Knead the dough. Knead for ten to fifteen minutes until it is smooth, soft, and reaches the windowpane stage (meaning that when the dough is stretched, a translucent area appears). If the dough is still dry after a minute or two of kneading, sprinkle on the water a teaspoon at a time.
    stages of dough being kneaded.
  • The first rise. Shape the dough gently into a ball and place it into a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and place into a warm place to rise. Let the dough rise for 60 minutes until it is puffy and has doubled in size.
    dough shaped into ball and fully risen.
  • Shape into a loaf. Spray the loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle. Use your loaf pan as your guide and make the short side of the rectangle the same length as the longer side of the loaf pan. The rectangle will be about 9 x 18 inches. Tuck in the corners and top of the dough. Think of the saying “shoulders in, head down.” Keep rolling into a log. Tuck the ends under. Pinch the seams closed and place the loaf, seam side down, into a lightly oiled loaf pan.
    dough stretched into rectangle and shaped into log.
  • Allow to rise again. Cover with heavily greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise again until the dough rises to one inch above the top of the loaf pan. The bread will rise very slightly as it bakes, so make sure you are happy with the height of the bread before you bake it. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    loaf before and after rising.
  • Bake. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If you have an instant-read thermometer, check the temperature.. The finished bread should be between 195-200 degrees. Remove the bread from the loaf pan and allow it to cool fully on a wire rack
    baked loaf close up

Notes

Try doubling the recipe to get the most out of preheating your oven.
cut loaf of bread on cutting board.

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Easy and affordable: This recipe uses simple, inexpensive ingredients that are commonly found in most kitchens, making it a budget-friendly option for delicious homemade bread.
  • Versatile loaf: The resulting loaf is perfect for sandwiches, toast, or simply enjoying with butter. It’s just a basic, winning recipe.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on counter.

You’ll need the following for this sandwich loaf:

  • all-purpose flour
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • sugar
  • salt
  • instant or active dry yeast

🍴Instructions

Step One: mix and knead

stages of dough being kneaded.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the all-purpose flour, lukewarm water, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, and instant or active dry yeast. Mix everything together until a cohesive dough forms that doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment can make this process easier and faster.

You’ll know the dough is ready when it becomes smooth, soft, and elastic, and it passes the windowpane test (when stretched, a translucent area appears without tearing). If the dough seems too dry, add water a teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Step Two: first rise

dough shaped into ball and fully risen.

Gently shape the dough into a ball and place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp tea towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free spot to allow the dough to rise. This should take about 60 minutes, and the dough should double in size, appearing puffy and lighter.

Step three: shape into sandwich loaf

dough stretched into rectangle and shaped into log.

First, lightly grease a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Then, gently stretch the dough into a rectangle, using the dimensions of the loaf pan as a guide. The short side of the rectangle should be the same length as the longer side of the loaf pan, resulting in a rectangle that’s approximately 9 x 18 inches. Tuck in the corners and top of the dough, rolling it into a log shape. Fold the ends under and pinch the seams closed. Place the shaped dough, seam side down, into the prepared loaf pan.

Step Four: second rise

loaf before and after rising.

Cover the loaf pan with heavily greased plastic wrap to prevent sticking, and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise again. Allow the dough to rise until it reaches about an inch above the top of the loaf pan, which may take another 60 minutes. The bread will rise slightly more during baking, so ensure that you’re satisfied with the height before proceeding to the next step. As the rising time nears its end, start preheating your oven to 350°F

Step Five: bake

baked loaf close up

Place the loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the loaf reaches an internal temperature of 195-200°F (90-93°C) and emits a hollow sound when tapped. This indicates that the bread is fully baked and ready to be removed from the oven. Carefully take the bread out of the loaf pan and place it on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.

🥫 Storage instructions

Room temperature storage: Once the bread has cooled completely, store it in an airtight container, a resealable plastic bag, or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out. Keep the bread at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. It should stay fresh for 3-4 days.

Freezing: To extend the life of the bread even further, you can freeze it. First, allow the bread to cool completely. Then, wrap the entire loaf or individual slices tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the wrapped bread in a resealable plastic freezer bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing the bag. Label the bag with the date and type of bread, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

🔍 FAQs

Can I use a different type of oil or fat instead of vegetable oil?

Yes, you can use other types of oils or fats in this recipe. Olive oil, melted butter, or melted coconut oil are all fine. I just use vegetable because it’s the cheapest. 😊

Can I use honey or another sweetener instead of sugar in the recipe?

Yep! Again, white sugar is simply the most affordable. You can. play around with whatever you’d like.

Can I use this recipe to make rolls or smaller loaves?

Absolutely! You can divide the dough into smaller portions to create rolls or mini loaves. Just be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly. Check rolls at 15 minutes and a half-sized loaf at 25.

My bread didn’t rise as much as I expected. What could be the cause?

There could be several reasons for this issue. First, ensure that your yeast is still active and not expired. To test the yeast, mix it with a small amount of warm water and sugar and let it sit for a few minutes. If it foams and bubbles, it’s still active. Another reason could be the temperature of your rising environment. Make sure the dough is placed in a warm, draft-free spot to encourage proper rising. Finally, under-kneading or adding too much flour can cause the dough to become too tight and prevent it from rising sufficiently.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

Create a warm environment for the dough to rise: Find a warm, draft-free spot in your kitchen for the dough to rise. You can also preheat your oven to the lowest setting, turn it off, and then place the covered dough inside the slightly warm oven.

Be patient during the rising process: Allow the dough enough time to rise properly, typically around 60 minutes for the first rise and another 60 minutes for the second rise. Rushing this process can result in a denser, less airy loaf.

Cool the bread completely before slicing: Allowing the bread to cool on a wire rack ensures that the steam inside the bread has a chance to escape, preventing it from becoming soggy. Cutting into the bread too soon can also cause it to become gummy.

Be patient with yourself: Bread-making can require a bit of practice to get the perfect loaf. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out exactly as you hoped. Learn from each experience and know that you will get better every time. And once you’re ready to try another bread recipe, here’s our version of Big, Soft Italian Loaf Bread.

📘 Related Recipes

slicing loaf of bread.

📖 Here’s the recipe

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14 Comments

  1. I plan to make this dough in my bread machine. Can you tell us what size loaf pan you used? I’m guessing the 8×4 and not the 9×5? TIA!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! This was basically my first time making regular bread and I’m so happy with how it came out! I had tried sourdough from a starter back when everyone was doing that, but found the process complicated to keep up with and didn’t do it for very long. I recently stopped working to be at home full time and have been enjoying your blog a lot during this transition. I appreciate the articles on shifting your mindset on homemaking and being frugal. I am viewing it as a fun challenge to make one income living work well for us, and one goal I had is to learn to make my own bread. With school lunches, we go through a lot of sandwiches. This recipe felt very doable, especially with using very basic ingredients. I bought a jar of instant yeast at your suggestion, so I can just scoop some out. I love that this bread can be used for both sandwiches and for serving at dinner since it tastes so fresh – and I feel a sense of pride putting it on the table. Now I know I can make sandwich bread at home, I will definitely be doing it more regularly.

    1. gretchen! you are the best! good for you trying something new and i’m so glad your bread was a success. welcome to your new adventure and i hope to continue to help you ❤️

  3. Help please. I’m missing something. I just made this recipe 6x. First rise always surprises me (20 minutes in kitchen 68°F)… Tested 2nd rise 6 ways…from 1/4 inch above rim to 5/8 above. All 6 same results – fall flat the second they hit the oven. Confident in measurements – all on gram scale. I’ll do ANYTHING to get a loaf like your photo. Advice please? Thank you!!!!

    John Robert

    1. John Robert I’m so sorry I just saw this. If it’s rising fast and falling flat, I’d say the dough is too wet and you need a little more flour. I don’t develop my recipes in grams so that could be the issue. Good luck!!!!
      Also I’m assuming you’re using instant yeast not rapid rise, which is different.

    1. Hey John, looks like your pan is a tad larger than average? I would personally try to triple the recipe and divide it into 2 loaves. Or multiply each ingredient by 1.5. You can double or triple on the bottom of the recipe card.