Dec 05 2007

How much does that recipe cost?


hello-calculator.jpgIf you’ve seen my weekly menus (usually posted on Mondays), you know that I like to break down the cost of each meal.

Knowing the cost of each recipe has plenty of benefits. You can be choosier with ingredients (perhaps make substitutions or eliminate an expensive item). You know exactly how much a recipe costs per serving, and depending on the cost, you can cook the recipe often or only on special occasions.

I’m not a math person. But ya know what? I’m good enough at math to put a calculator to use, and so are you. It’s good for your brain if you regularly put math skills to use–and since you probably have graduated from high school, you absolutely have the skills needed to calculate a recipe’s cost.

Knowing how much recipes and meal costs can help you save on your food budget since you will know exactly where your grocery budget is going.

I was surprised when I found out that a pan of lasagna cost more than $7. But, when I realized that I could get many meals out of it, the high initial cost was justified.

Similarly, I was surprised to discover just how cheap breakfast-for-dinner can be. I would have never known this had I not calculated the cost of each meal.

To help you with calculating your recipe costs, I will show you my process. Also, my husband has created a new tool [you can regularly find it under the “Frugal Tools” tab above, and click on the “Recipe Cost Calculator” link in the left sidebar].

If math really makes your head spin, do try out that calculator.

– First, I look over a recipe’s ingredients. I typically don’t calculate the cost of seasoning, since it tends to be less than a penny.
Then, I determine the cost of the ingredient–but only the amount of ingredient I am using. For this to work, you need to know how much you paid for the item. Save your grocery receipts or keep a price book. It isn’t that hard–believe me
– I write down the cost of each ingredient for the recipe, then add up the cost of all ingredients

    Presto! I know how much a recipe will cost. It takes just a couple of minutes to do this–honest! If those calculations made your brain hurt, you can try using our recipe cost calculator instead.

    Once you calculate the cost of a recipe, write it on your recipe card or in your cookbook. It won’t always be the same amount (depending on sales and store prices) but it will probably be close to this amount every time.

    I’d be thrilled if you tried this out. Let me know if the calculator makes sense–or if you prefer to work your brain and do the pencil-and-paper method, let me know how easy or hard it was for you to figure the cost of a recipe.

    I’d love to know how much your recipes cost. Tell me about it or figure the cost of a recipe on your blog (and let me know), and I’ll give you a shoutout in a future blog post.

    And, if you give it a shot and find out that you really are allergic to math, tell me. I will help as much as I’m able.

    For an example, see my post below.

    **Updated to include a link to my costs for my most common baking items.(Thanks for the reminder, Bethany! Also, be sure to check out Bethany’s blog post on her own costs for a meal.) I think I’ve found a friend in her! :)

    11 Responses to “How much does that recipe cost?”

    1. Handly little tool!

      I might try it out on some of my recipes…lol that is if I can find the time!

      Maybe soon!


      Um… my brain dosnt do math but since I have learned to be a bargin shopper that has helped! I can whip out that %43 percent off faster than you can blink an eye… lol no not quite but alot better than I EVER COULD!!!

      -side note, you didnt add me back on when you changed your blog up! :-D

    2. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that does this!

      It’s like a game for me to see how great a meal I can make for how little money. :-)

    3. Another tip that might help would be to figure out a commonly used unit cost for certain ingredients and keep that in the front of your recipe book. Like, a cup of flour general costs x amount. Same with sugar, brown sugar, eggs, etc. That way, when you use a new recipe, you’ll be able to more quickly figure the whole cost.

      I did this a few weeks ago for one of our favorite meals, noodles and sauce with garlic bread. Here’s my post about it on my blog

    4. Whoops! I figured that up awhile back but forgot to link it to this post. Thanks for the reminder!

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    Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

    I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

    I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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