How I Buy Bread for $1 or Less

Woman eating bread
Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock.com

Checked bread prices lately? When the staff of life costs $4 or more per loaf, your food budget suffers.

One way to avoid paying top dollar is to search for a bakery outlet in your area. The savings are always good, and sometimes great.

A few personal examples:

  • I once paid 50 cents for an 18-count package of “stadium rolls” — high-end buns that turned on-sale turkey burgers into a tasty supper. Usually they cost a dollar.
  • We’ve bought tortillas for 50 cents, and sometimes less — some weeks it’s “buy one, get two free.”
  • Our go-to price for a 1-pound bag of pretzels is also 50 cents.
  • I’ve bought multigrain loaves for $1 to $1.50 numerous times.
  • Every now and then, I’ll get Little Debbie snack cakes for a buck a box as a fun treat for my great-nephews.

But isn’t this stuff really old?

Nope. Bakeries use outlets to sell extra items. Sometimes that means factory overruns or holiday-themed products — Christmas cookies or Halloween Tastykakes, for example. It can also mean bread and other products that are approaching their best-by dates.

Having seen close-dated bread on supermarket shelves — where you’d expect it to be super-fresh — I prefer to pay a bargain price at the outlet. Besides, terms like “best by” and “sell by” probably don’t mean what you think.

We’ve purchased dark rye and pumpernickel as well as 12-grain loaves. We’ve also bought Boboli pizza shells, bagels, hot dog rolls, English muffins and onion rolls.

Depending on the outlet, you may find more than just baked goods.

Here in Anchorage, Alaska, we’ve found good-quality coffee (a pound and a half for $6), corn chips and even canned sardines at our Oroweat bakery outlet. Our favorite 50-cent find there is a 1-pound bag of Twizzlers.

How to find bakery outlets

Large bakeries with outlets in multiple states often list the locations on their websites. Examples include:

  • Aunt Millie’s: This bakery has outlet locations in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
  • Bimbo Bakeries USA: This company’s brands include Arnold, Ball Park, Boboli, Entenmann’s, Sara Lee and Thomas. Use its website’s Outlet Locator to search for outlets in your state.
  • Franz Bakery: Outlets are located in Northwest states and Alaska.
  • Schwebel Baking Co.: Outlets are located in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

You can also find bakery outlets through third-party websites, though you might want to call the outlet in advance to confirm the information you found online is current. Examples include:

  • Holsum: Outlets are located in Wisconsin, according to Menuism.
  • Pepperidge Farm: Outlets are located in 10 states, according to FactoryOutletStores.info.

A local baking company might have its own thrift shop, too, so also do a web search for bread and bakery outlets in your area.

If your local supermarkets have their own bakeries, check the “yesterday’s baked goods” rack for discounted products as well.

Best practices for shopping bakery outlets

A few more slice-of-life tips:

  • Think ahead: If you find your favorite bread, extend the savings by buying extra loaves and freezing them.
  • Try new flavors: Not sure you’d like onion rolls or Russian rye? It’ll cost only a buck or two to find out.
  • Always have your favorite rolls in the freezer. Those stadium rolls make tuna salad seem more interesting — especially if you toast the rolls and add a little relish and chopped hard-cooked egg to the tuna. Leftover soup, or even canned soup, becomes a decent meal when served with dinner rolls.
  • Check sell-by dates: While I’m not above eating bread with two days left on the meter, I always look for loaves with the longest shelf life, even if I plan to freeze them.
  • Look for extra savings: For example, some outlets have punch-card systems: Collect enough stamps on your loyalty card and you’ll get free products.
  • Go often: Lineups vary from week to week, so it might pay to stop by a local outlet frequently. For example, sometimes I get my pick of sandwich rolls and on other occasions find no rolls at all. One week, Dave’s Killer Bread was available for 50 cents a loaf. How else are you going to get a deal like that?

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