Happy Birthday! Thursday, August 15, was my mom’s birthday. My mom lives 8 hours away from me so I didn’t get to see her. However, my brother lives 5 minutes away and was going to visit her this weekend, so, I decided to bake her a surprise birthday cake and send it with him! As you can guess, I made the cake, and icing, from scratch! OF COURSE! Haha. So, this is the most recent example I can give of how cooking from scratch is cheaper.
Sorry for the horrible photo. It’s too bad the cake didn’t really survive the trip to my mom. All the roses melted off of the sides! It was in AC the whole way but Texas heat can’t be reasoned with. My mom said it tasted great though! So that’s all that counts I suppose. I was still sad about my roses, though they weren’t much of a loss considering I kind of messed them up anyway. Ha! Anyway, on with the math…ugh.
For me to have baked this cake from a box mix,it would have cost about $16.00:
(These are rounded off to make this easier)
Boxed cake mix: $3.50
2 tubs of icing: $5.00
Milk/eggs/oil for cake mix: $2.00 give or take.
Raspberries for the raspberry filling: $4.00
Purple gel food coloring: $1.00
Or if I bought it from the bakery, probably around $20.00 right?
Here’s what it cost me to make from scratch, with items I keep on hand because I like to bake often.
Cake, recipe can be found here, I cut the recipe in half to make a smaller cake (two 6″ rounds instead of two 9″ rounds)
Cake Flour: $4.00 per 2lb box, I used 1 1/8C = approximately $1.50
Milk: $4.00 per gallon, I used 1/2C = about $0.12
Eggs: $3.00 per 18ct carton, I used 3 = about $0.50
Almond Extract: $2.00 per 2oz bottle, I used 1tsp = approximately $0.16
Vanilla Extract: $2.00 per 8oz bottle, I used 1/2tsp = approximately $0.02
Granulated Sugar: $7.00 per 10lb bag, I used 5/8 C = bout $0.25
Baking Powder: $3.00 per 10oz can, I used 2tsp = $0.10
Salted Butter (sticks): $2.00 per 4 stick box, I used 6tbsp (3/4 stick) =$0.75
Icing and raspberry filling. Recipe for icing can be found here, I doubled it to make filling and have extra. The filling was about 1/4 of the total icing, with fresh raspberries and 1tsp of raspberry extract added.
Salted Butter (sticks): $2.00 per 4 stick box, I used all 4 = $2.00
Confectioners Sugar: $3.00 per 2lb bag, I used 6 C = about $4.50
Vanilla Extract: $2.00 per 8oz bottle, I used 2 Tbsp = about $0.25
Milk: $4.00 per gallon, I used 3Tbsp. = approximately $0.19
Fresh Raspberries: $4.00, I used about 1/4 of the bag (approximately 1C) = $1.00
Raspberry Extract: $2.00 per 2oz bottle, I used 1tsp = about $0.16
So my total, from scratch, was $11.50! That’s cheaper!
Now, aside from my cake costing less, I now have all these ingredients on hand, which means I can bake any time I want and it will all be cheaper unless it requires a lot of a special ingredient.
Now, I’m not here to tell you “and knowing what goes in my food is priceless” (even though it is) because you may be like my husband. In his eyes, he doesn’t care if it’s healthy or not, if it doesn’t cost less, then it’s not worth it. So we are JUST talking bottom line here.
But the beauty of cooking from scratch is when you meal plan with it. Meaning, plan for meals with similar ingredients and your money will go further! Now, I also bake bread from scratch. Ingredients are flour, yeast, salt, and water. It ends up being less than $1.00 per loaf! Where at the grocery store, you may pay $2-3.00 per loaf with all kinds of preservatives in it!
How about actual meals? Well, a favorite of mine is pork fried rice done the lazy way. We mix pork chops that I’ve sliced up, rice, and frozen mixed veggies to make a meal that all 4 of us eat WITH enough leftovers for lunch the next day. Wanna take a guess at the cost? About $5.00. FOR TWO MEALS! Now, buying fried rice as takeout or in those handy little microwave cartons is what, around $4.00 per carton? Times 4 people equals $16.00, times two meals equals $32.00!? I’ll take $5.00 over $32.00 ANY DAY. And guess what? Yup, there’s pork chops, rice, and mixed veggies still in my kitchen waiting to be used on another meal.
Am I making any sense yet or do you need more math? I hope not. I hate math. Haha! But seriously, the budget that the wardens has put me on is pretty tight, but their appetites keep expanding, so I’m having to learn how to save every penny I can. I hope to have an expansive vegetable garden one day to cut even more costs from our grocery bill, but that’s not an option at the moment so I will stick with learning how to cook from scratch in preparation for when I DO have one.
Good luck to all of you! I hope I can help at least one person save money!