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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Figuring a Recipe's Cost and Nutrition

Are granola bars cheaper and healthier, I'm asked.

I have found two online sites and I have made a spreadsheet that can help you with figuring that out if you care when cooking your recipes. You can see if you truly are saving money or making things more nutritious if that is your main goal for cooking that recipe.

I would want to say right off the bat my granola bars are healthier just by the fact it is made from scratch and without the preservatives which is more of the reason I want to avoid prepackaged food. (I'm really not into the counting calories)

But to find out if it's healthier, I found this site - FitDay. You do have to sign up for a free online account to use it. Once you have, you get to fill in what you ate all day and it will give you the total calories you consumed with other information. But, for our purposes, just plug in the recipe ingredients on a blank day, and that is the recipe's health info. Divide nutritional information by how many servings your recipe makes.

Now, to find out the cost of your recipe, I made a simple spreadsheet calculator. In a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calc, make your default calculator that you will leave to copy and paste for all the ingredients you want to figure out.

So in the example here, the top boxed set with the titles is my calculator that I will leave for copy and pasting. I wrote in the A cells what I need to remember for plugging in. The B cells is for my own desire to remember how many ounces are in the package, how many measurements are in the package and how many I use in the recipe. This is optional. C cells only have the formula in C4. What you write in cell C4 is formula


It has an error message in the default calculator because it can't do the math with words, when you replace the words with numbers, you get the answer of how much you spent for the amount of that item in your recipe. So, I highlighted and copied all the cells of my default calculator and pasted it further down on my spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will automatically change your C4 cell formula to pick the new cells for calculating wherever you paste your calculator so you don't have to come up with any new formulas.

So I plugged in the amount of Vanilla I used in my Granola Cereal Recipe. I had a 2 oz. bottle that I bought for $3.86. There is a total of 4T in a bottle and I used 1 T in the recipe. Once I plugged in the numbers, I got the answer that I used $.97 worth of vanilla in my recipe.

You can easily do this in your own spreadsheet and copy that example calculator infinitely until you get the amount of items in your recipe. I am sure you can make a formula to add all the C4 formulas, but I am not that good at spreadsheets, so I just add up all the answers by calculator. For the next recipe that uses vanilla, I can just simply change the servings used to get my new total.

If you are just way too freaked out to use a spreadsheet, there is one online cost calculator that I found like this, but you can only do 7 ingredients at a time and they are not savable, but you can find it here:


Heather said...

Excellent idea.
Tangentially related, to reduce your vanilla costs, you can buy a vanilla bean (I bought 2 at Whole Foods for $4) I cut one in half, split it, scraped the inside into an old olive oil bottle. I dropped the pod in, too and filled the bottle with vodka. You can also use bourbon. It tastes better if you add just a touch of corn syrup.

Close tightly and store in a dark place for two weeks before using. I'm sure Google will give you more specific ratios, but I'm certain it's less than .97 a T and the time investment is negligible.

MJ said...

Heather, great minds think alike, wait for tomorrow's post!