How to Calculate the Cost of a Recipe

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Do you know how to figure out exactly how much a recipe costs you to make? You may be surprised at the REAL Cost…

As a frugal food blogger, one of the biggest frustrations that I’ve encountered is the sheer number of people that don’t understand how to break down the cost of a recipe. The reason this is frustrating for me personally is because when we create a recipe and take the time to break down the cost, we do so to try to help people who are struggling to stay within their budget.

We take the time to do this because we want others to be able to SAVE Money and find recipes that are affordable for their own families. Unfortunately, that time and energy is often met with “No -sah, it costs ____ to make it”.

Your cost is obviously going to be slightly different even if you live nearby because of the fact that each person shops differently. Some people shop with coupons, some shop discount stores or dollar stores, some buy in bulk, while others purchase regular retail. This is why we frequently try to base our Budget101 Recipe breakdown using Walmart prices.

how-to-calculate-the-cost-of-a-recipe

It’s not because we endorse that particular store, it’s because the prices are very similar throughout the United States and we’re trying to provide information that is as accurate to your personal area as humanly possible.

The Cost Breakdown, Step by Step

In this particular case, we’re going to use Aldi prices, because that’s what I have in my pantry, Aldi brand products.

Here is an Actual Recipe from our site: Copycat Bisquick™ (Full directions here)

This recipe calls for the following:

8 cups flour
4 Tbs. Sugar
4 Tbs. baking powder
4 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening

This Mix makes just over 9 cups of the mix which is the exact equivalent of a 40 oz box of Bisquick™.

Recipe Cost Calculation

Here’s how we calculate the cost of a recipe:

how-to-calculate-the-cost-of-a-recipe

1 (5lb) bag of flour is $1.29 (Aldi Price) there are 20 cups of flour in a 5lb bag- so $1.29 divided by 20 = 0.06 per cup of flour- we need 8 cups for this recipe so 8 x .06 = 48¢

1 (4lb) bag of sugar is $1.49 (Aldi Price) there are 9 cups of sugar in a 4lb bag- so $1.49 divided by 9 = 16.5¢ per cup of sugar- this recipe uses 1/4 cup so 16.5 cents divided by 4 equals .04 cents per 1/4 cup

1 container of baking powder is 56¢ (Aldi Price) there are 383 servings per container (1/8th tsp per serving) so 383 divided by 8 = 47.875 teaspoons per container. 56¢ divided by 47.875 = 0.0111 cents per teaspoon there are 3 tsp per tablespoon x 4 = 12 tsp = 0.133 cents

1 container Salt .50 (Aldi Price) there are 431 servings (1/4 tsp per serving) per container. Which means there are 107.75 teaspoons per container. Divide .50 cents (the cost of the entire container) by 107.75 (the number of servings) = cost per serving .004 cents .004 x 4(tsp) = 1 penny.

1 Container Shortening $2.69 (Aldi Price) there are 113 servings per container, 1 TBS is the serving size. There are 16 Tablespoons in 1 cup. $2.69 divided by 113 servings = 0.0238 cents per Tablespoon. 0.0238 cents x 16 Tablespoons = 38¢ per cup. An alternative way of figuring this is 113 servings divided by 16 tablespoons = 7.06 cups. $2.69 divided by 7.06 cups =38¢ per cup.

So, Let’s recap what we have so far:

8 cups of flour is 48¢
1/4 cup of sugar is 4¢
4 teaspoons of salt is 1¢
4 TBS baking powder 13¢
1 cup of shortening is 38¢
how-to-calculate-the-cost-of-a-recipe

Total Cost of 1 recipe Copycat Bisquick™ = 1.04¢

Here’s how NOT to Calculate the Cost of a Recipe:

1 (5lb) bag of flour is $1.29 (Aldi Price)
1 (4lb) bag of sugar is $1.49 (Aldi Price)
1 container Salt .50 (Aldi Price)
1 Container Shortening $2.69 (Aldi Price)
1 container of baking powder .56¢ (Aldi Price)

$1.29 + $1.49 + $0.50 + $2.69 +$0.56

Total cost of recipe $6.53 “because I had to buy all the ingredients”.

It’s incorrect to figure the entire cost of ALL the ingredients because you didn’t use ALL of the ingredients. There are a number of ingredients still left for you to make many more recipes, therefor it did NOT cost you $6.53 to make the recipe.

Now, let’s take a look at the price of 40oz of Bisquick™, it is currently listed for $3.28 for a 40 oz box. We’ve already discovered that it costs us only $1.04 to make the same amount of homemade quick mix.

how-to-calculate-the-cost-of-a-recipe


How to find the Percentage of Savings

  • Subtract the Smaller Number from the larger number
  • find the difference between the two: $3.28 – 1.04 = $2.24
  • then divide the difference with the larger number: $2.24 divided by 3.28 = 0.68
  • then move the decimal two places to the right of the answer and the answer is 68%
  • So, by making your own quick mix, you are literally saving 68% or in this case $2.24 on just one item.

Now, if you purchased just 1 box per week, you’re literally spending $170.56 per year on just Bisquick™. If you made your own you would literally save $116.48 in 1 year, JUST by making ONE mix instead of buying it. Imagine the impact of swapping out just 5 convenience food items from your grocery budget each week.

Now, if you don’t think you have TIME to make your own Mixes, you might want to check out this article . . .

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Pixelbliss

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. FULL DISCLOSURE HERE
About Liss 4006 Articles
Melissa Burnell, known to her friends and fans as "Liss," grew up in Southern Maine, now residing in sunny South Carolina. As a busy Wife, Mother of two sons, an avid photographer, and self-employed entrepreneur, Liss understands the value of both time and money.

9 Comments

  1. I love this! As the manager of a (not for profit) beverage business, I often get challenged on my prices. “Board of ….”

    Don’t understand calculating cost on usage rather than “we had to buy it” ( although I do include the additional sum of overhead) but the break down is by the ounce! On the other hand the condiments… Straws ,lemon, olive etc are not “free” to the business!

    I use the same method to calculate the price if ice. The ice maker uses this much electric and water each month, there is this amount amount of waste ( the maker drains into a bucket allowing us to calculate melt waste, leaving this much ice to use… At so much per serving!

    I will definitely share this article!

    • I love this! As the manager of a (not for profit) beverage business, I often get challenged on my prices. “Board of ….”

      Don’t understand calculating cost on usage rather than “we had to buy it” ( although I do include the additional sum of overhead) but the break down is by the ounce! On the other hand the condiments… Straws ,lemon, olive etc are not “free” to the business!

      I use the same method to calculate the price if ice. The ice maker uses this much electric and water each month, there is this amount amount of waste ( the maker drains into a bucket allowing us to calculate melt waste, leaving this much ice to use… At so much per serving!

      I will definitely share this article!

      I’m a builder and we have the same issue, nails, screws, caulking, drill bits, saw blades- all the little “expendables” that people don’t see on the “materials list” when they’re looking at home depot, lowes or other lumberyards. They often can’t see the Big Picture and think that I’m making a killing on my labor rate. Um, I want to say, what about that Required Workmans Comp Policy which is several thousand dollars per year, per person, what about the liability insurance which is $10K a year, what about the incidentals?

      I have to break down all of those overhead costs into the cost of the finished product, it’s called Business.

      The same for the recipes, I know what she’s talking about here, I’ve seen the posts on Facebook in response to the laundry sauce recipe. This is a good way to put it in perspective.:smile1:

  2. Wow, i guess I never really stopped to think about it and I’ve been figuring the costs wrong too. I was just adding up the entire package of each ingredient I guess I didn’t stop to think that I’m only using a little out of each package. I kind of feel a little dumb now

  3. I have always broken down the cost of my ingredients on MYO mixes the same way you do. It is the only one that makes sense. That said my pie crust recipe I can literally factor as total purchase price of ingredients since salt is just .05 cents for the recipe as five lbs of flour, 3 lbs of shortening, salt and cold water.

    This 20 single pie crusts that I can freeze for up to a year. Never stays in the freezer that long!

  4. This is a good article. Is there a cheat sheet somewhere of how much is in certain size packages? I know that sounds stupid but I usually have a toddler with me and trying to do math and wrangle a 2yr old who wants to “help” is never productive lol I’m constantly trying to figure out if I need 4 cups sugar how much is in a 5 lb bag the servings are in tsp how many tsp in cup?

    how many cups in a pound? stop pulling stuff off the shelf. ok start over lol you know the drill

    • That is actually a great question!! I am such an anal shopper that my regular shopping items are on my list slongvwith the price per ounce (ppo). when i plan to purchase sale times from store circulars the ppo is figured too.

      my local store meets competitors prices so i don’t have to do the grocery store shuffle, but often sale prices are not better deals!

    • This is a good article. Is there a cheat sheet somewhere of how much is in certain size packages? I know that sounds stupid but I usually have a toddler with me and trying to do math and wrangle a 2yr old who wants to “help” is never productive lol I’m constantly trying to figure out if I need 4 cups sugar how much is in a 5 lb bag the servings are in tsp how many tsp in cup? how many cups in a pound? stop pulling stuff off the shelf. ok start over lol you know the drill

      Yes, there are, the “cheat sheets” you speak of are actually called “Price Books”. If you search the forums there are a number of posts on the subject.

    • This is a good article. Is there a cheat sheet somewhere of how much is in certain size packages? I know that sounds stupid but I usually have a toddler with me and trying to do math and wrangle a 2yr old who wants to “help” is never productive lol I’m constantly trying to figure out if I need 4 cups sugar how much is in a 5 lb bag the servings are in tsp how many tsp in cup?

      how many cups in a pound? stop pulling stuff off the shelf. ok start over lol you know the drill

      check out this handy kitchen measurement chart that i have laminated and taped to the inside of my cupboard door! it is a lifesaver for me!!


  5. I so wish our products were that cheap here in NZ.. For the same size of flour is $3, sugar $3 salt $2 Baking Powder $3.45 and 1lb Butter $6-$7.. so a little bit more expensive to make things here..

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