Since you are trying to save money and stay out of the drive thru maybe you would like to know how to calculate food cost for a recipe. If for nothing else then to compare what you are saving.
To keep it as close as possible I will use Walmart to get the prices. Of course, it may be different where you live but at least we will use a store that you’re familiar with. You are familiar with Walmart, right?
There are a few things that would cause your price to be different than mine like where you live and how long it has been since I’ve written this post. But I will try to update it before too much time passes though.
The store you choose to shop at may also make a difference. I shop at Save A Lot so my prices are a little less than these. You may have a store like Aldi’s that you can shop at to save more. If you do, go for it.
Ready to learn all the exciting stuff that goes into calculating what your meal cost?
So Why Again Am I Wasting My Time Calculating Recipe Cost?
Calculating your recipe cost will make you more aware of how much you are spending on your meals. You can use this information to try to get your meals made cheaper to save more money.
When you calculate food cost for each ingredient in your meal then you can easily see what costs the most and the least. For higher cost ingredients you can think about what to substitute and maybe even make it taste better.
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Oh Fine. Stop Nagging and Show Me How to Calculate Food Cost for My Meals.
Really? I don’t nag. Well, maybe sometimes.
OK so the first thing you will need to know is how much you are spending on your ingredients. You will get this from your receipt or if you have thrown your receipt away then look online if you’re able to for your store.
Don’t worry after all this explaining I will give you an example so you can see it in action. Let’s get back to it.
Once you get the price you will do one of two things…
If you are using the full amount of the ingredient like a pound box of spaghetti then you will just use the price of the box of spaghetti. OR
If you are using a portion of the ingredient then you will divide the price down to the unit cost.
Depending on your ingredient there will be different ways to break this down. Let’s talk about a few:
Foods like bananas. If the bananas are $1.39 per bunch and there are five bananas in the bunch then it would be 0.278 per banana ($1.39 divided by 5).
Canned foods like canned corn. Typically when you use canned foods you will see they have ounces on the can but I’ve learned that not all ounces are created equal. That is too bad because it would have been so much easier to just convert the other units to ounces and then calculate but since they are not then we have to take a look at the label to see what the serving size is and how many services are in the package.
For a can of corn the label could say a serving size is 0.5 cup and there are approximately 3.5 servings in the can. So you would multiply 3.5 servings by 0.5 cup to get 1.75 cups per can. Then you would divide the price by the cups in the can so take 0.50 divided by 1.75 to get 0.29 per cup.
Oh in case you were wondering how I learned that not all ounces are created equal; well, I got to noticing one day that on a package of shredded cheese it said 8 ounces so I immediately thought there was a cup of cheese there but then noticed it said 2 cups on the package. DANG!! There went my whole calculate by the ounce theory. We will have to stick with using ounces only when the recipe calls for a weight like ounces or pounds.
The canned food example would be the same if you are using foods from a box, bag, or any other packaging where they have listed the servings and how much per serving.
To make this easier for later on when you decide to calculate your food cost again make a list of your foods you buy and the unit price. This way you don’t have to calculate it over and over.
OK after you get your unit cost next, multiply your unit cost by the amount your recipe is using. So, if your recipe calls for 2 eggs then your egg cost would be 0.115 x 2 to get 0.23.
It’s really not that bad once you get the hang of it. The only time it gets a little tricky is when you need to convert between units. For instance, your unit cost may be in tablespoons but your recipe calls for a cup. Then you would need to convert tablespoons into a cup. So let’s say your unit cost is 0.02 per tablespoon. You would then need to find out how tablespoons go into a cup. Which would be 16 tablespoons so the cost for this ingredient would be 16 times 0.02 for 0.32 per cup.
Once you get the total cost for each ingredient then you just add them up.
Good Gravy! You Just Confused the Heck Outta Me! Show Me An Example of How to Calculate Food Cost for a Recipe
Alright… some people are so needy…
All the ingredients will be purchased from Walmart and I will use the Grocery Pickup for this example. Remember prices will be different depending on where you live and the store you shop at. Plus if you have coupons or things are on sale then that makes it even better.
OK, here is a list of the ingredients we will need:
- 1 pounds frozen pre-cooked chicken breast strips
- 1/2 pounds (3 cups) rotini pasta
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoons pepper
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- Pack of rolls
Let’s get started…
Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Fully Cooked Grilled Chicken Breast Strips, 22 oz. (Frozen)
$6.28 per package
Divide $6.28 by 22 oz = $0.285 per ounce
Recipe calls for 1 pound (16 ounces) so we just calculate the ounces.
So 16 ounces times $0.285 = $4.56
Great Value Rotini Pasta, 16 oz (1 lb)
$0.82 per package
Recipe calls for 1/2 pound so this would be half the box.
So 1/2 of $0.82 = $0.41
Weber N’Orleans Cajun Seasoning, 5 oz
$3.98 per container
First we will calculate the cost per serving. The label says there are 158 servings.
So divide $3.98 by 158 = $0.025 per serving size of 1/4 teaspoon.
Recipe calls for 2 1/2 teaspoons which is 10 servings of 1/4 teaspoon.
So 10 servings times $0.025 per serving = $0.25
Great Value Ultra-Pasteurized Real Heavy Whipping Cream, 16 oz
$1.60 per carton
Recipe calls for 1 cup which is 8 ounces. Half the container.
So 1/2 of $1.60 = $0.80
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BLUE BONNET Original Soft Spread Vegetable Oil Spread 45 oz
$2.64 per container
First we will calculate the cost per serving. The label says there are 91 servings.
So divide $2.64 by 91 = $0.029 per serving size of 1 tablepoon.
Recipe calls for 2 tablespoons.
So 2 tablespoons times $0.029 per serving = $0.06
Great Value Iodized Salt, 26 oz
$0.40 per container
First we will calculate the cost per serving. The label says there are 491 servings.
So divide $0.40 by 491 = $0.0008 per serving size of 1/4 teaspoon.
Recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon which is 2 servings of 1/4 teaspoon.
So 2 servings times $0.0008 per serving = $0.002 less than a penny
Great Value Ground Black Pepper, 6 oz
$4.98 per container
The nutrition label or serving size was not listed on container so we will need to do this a little different.
We will use dry measurement. So there are 6 teaspoons per ounce.
Divide $4.98 by 6 oz = $0.83 per ounce
Recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon
To figure out how many ounces is in this recipe you would divide 0.25 teaspoons (recipe) by 6 teaspoons (per 1 ounce) = 0.04 ounces for this recipe.
Now do the math for cost.
So 0.04 ounces times $0.83 = $0.03
Great Value Finely Shredded Parmesan Cheese, 6 oz
$1.98 per package
First we will calculate the cost per serving. The label says there are 6 servings.
So divide $1.98 by 6 = $0.33 per serving size of 1/3 cup.
Recipe calls for 1 cup which is 3.03 servings of 1/3 cups (1 divided by .333).
So 3.03 servings times $0.33 per serving = $1.00
Green Onion, bunch
$0.50 per bunch
First we will calculate the cost per serving. The label says there are 6 servings.
So divide $0.50 by 6 = $0.083 per serving size of 1/4 cup.
Recipe calls for 1/2 cup which 2 servings of 1/4 cup.
So 2 servings times $0.083 per serving = $0.17
Beefsteak Slicing Tomatoes
Recipe calls for 1 tomato.
So 1 tomato = $0.91
Great Value Brown ‘n Serve Enriched Dinner Rolls, 12 Count
Here you will decide how many rolls each person will eat. For my family of four I would fix 1/2 the package.
So 1/2 package = $0.50
Total Cost of Cheesy Cajun Chicken with Rolls
|Chicken Breast Strips||$4.56|
This recipe will feed a family of four. Now I don’t know about you but when I visit the McDonald’s drive thru it would EASILY cost me 30 bucks for my family of four.
This is a savings of at least 21 bucks. If you haven’t started to learn how to stay out of the drive thru then you need to grab the Ultimate Meal Planning Guide. Get it while it’s free.
Now that you know the cost of the recipe you could make some adjustments or substitutions to make it cheaper. Like you could use 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese instead of a full cup. It won’t be as cheesy but I don’t think you will notice a difference in the taste. At least I didn’t. I tried it. That would save you 50 more cents.
If you and your family are a bigger fan of pasta over chicken then you could double the pasta and half the chicken. I would do this if my boys would let me get away with it. Doing this would save you another $1.87. With just these two changes you would have a savings of $2.37 which would put your meal total to $6.32.
As you can see if you are a drive thru junkie and those gals know you on a first name bases then just fixing your meals at home two more times a week would save you almost 50 bucks. Guys its a no brainer.
Go get the flipping Ultimate Meal Planning Guide and just do it if you haven’t already.
Alrighty, so do you calculate your meal cost and have some cool little tricks to share?
Until next time…
IT’S UP TO YOU NOW
If you are ready to change the path of your future and starting working toward living a less stressed life and putting some extra cash back in your pocket, then you are ready to get yourself more organized.