Cost of living: Is it cheaper to make your own cakes, cookies and scones, or just buy them from the store?

When I was a kid, I considered mass-produced packet cookies an exotic delicacy.

My mother, a grocer and cook, hardly ever bought them, as she considered them much more expensive than what she could cook herself at home. The same goes for all baked goods, really; despite mum being the first to admit that she doesn’t particularly like to cook, she made all my birthday cakes and lunch box snacks herself, and when it was her turn to providing morning tea at Sunday school was always, without fail, her homemade bran muffins.

She did this despite working full time and having a busy family schedule. It was so much cheaper.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

A school breakfast club is seeing more children turn up for a meal as the cost of living rises.

Now that I have my own children, I follow the same practice. I enjoy baking more than my mother does, but with the price of butter skyrocketing, the war in Ukraine driving up the price of flour, and grocery prices rising astronomically faster than my salary, I wonder if I should keep it up.

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Let’s do the math on three common baked goods: chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, and cheese scones.

In each case, I found the cheapest supermarket product available and compiled a virtual shopping list from the same supermarket chain, using the cheapest bakery ingredients it offers.

Chocolate chip cookies

Compare to: Griffins Cookie Bear Chocolate Chippies, two packs for $4.50 (sale price)

Homemade chocolate chip cookies, left, against a major supermarket brand.

Compound: stuff

Homemade chocolate chip cookies, left, against a major supermarket brand.

There are almost as many recipes for these perennial lunch boxes as there are cookbooks, but there are two broad categories: the softer, egg-based American type and the crispier style popularized by the cookbook. Edmond’s kitchen. I prefer the former, and here I’ll use this recipe from Erin Clarkson.

Pam’s Butter is $5.39 for 500g, so 150g is $1.29. Pam’s brown sugar is $2.79 a kilo, so 120g is 33c. Continuing like this, here is our total:

Butter – $1.29

Brown sugar – $0.33

White sugar – $0.08

Egg – $0.37

Vanilla extract – $0.59

Flour – $0.19

Salt – less than 1c

Instant coffee – $0.24

Baking powder – $0.01

Baking soda – $0.01

Chocolate – $3.79

Total = $6.90

I like to bake my cookies with butter, but that drives up the price (file image).

KEVIN STENT

I like to bake my cookies with butter, but that drives up the price (file image).

This recipe makes about 12 cookies, or $0.58 per cookie. Without the optional coffee, it’s $0.55.

Griffin’s Cookie Bear Chocolate Chippies – a coveted product in my childhood and New World’s cheapest – average 20 cookies in a pack, or 11c per cookie; five times less than the price of making them at home. Full price, they cost 13 cents each, or 42 cents cheaper before adding the coffee. It’s a big saving.

I’ve also numbered the recipe for Edmond’s Classic Sante Cookies, also known as Kiwi Crisps. They came in at 15 cents a cookie, so two cents a cookie more expensive than Griffin’s full price. It may not seem like much, but if you eat the equivalent of one packet a week, you’ll save $20 a year buying rather than cooking; you can buy a pair of children’s shoes from The Warehouse or Kmart with this.

Whichever recipe you prefer, shopping for prepared bikkies is the way to go here.

banana bread

Compare with: Countdown Bakery Banana Bread, $3.80 per loaf

Banana bread made by Mojo, left, against Countdown's.

Compound: stuff

Banana bread made by Mojo, left, against Countdown’s.

Often we can’t get through a whole bunch of bananas before they get too soft for our liking back home, but that’s okay; any uneaten ones go to the freezer, then every two weeks are made into a family favorite banana bread.

I consider this financially prudent, but would I be better off buying pre-made bread from Countdown? Let’s find out by comparing it with this recipe from the Wellington Mojo coffee chain, which is very similar to the one I make at home.

Eggs – $1.23

Sugar – $0.50

Canola oil – $0.45

Bananas – $1.75

Self-rising flour – $0.37

Baking soda – $0.05

Milk – $0.31

Total = $4.66

I've always thought it was good value to cook with uneaten bananas, but maybe I'm wrong.

I’ve always thought it was good value to cook with uneaten bananas, but maybe I’m wrong.

A fairly decisive victory for the supermarket here. I’d be better off, at over $20 a year, buying a banana bread fortnightly instead of making one (and that’s before I added any raisins or nuts, which I often do).

From now on, I will buy less bananas so that they are all eaten.

Cheese Scones

Compare with: Countdown Instore Bakery Cheese Scones $4.50 for a 4 pack

The cheese scone you'd make following the Scorch-O-Rama recipe, left, compared to those purchased from Countdown.

Compound: stuff

The cheese scone you’d make following the Scorch-O-Rama recipe, left, compared to those purchased from Countdown.

We might have a national obsession with cheese scones. At the very least, we all have a favorite coffee version and a favorite recipe.

I’m going to compare Countdown Scones with this Scorch-O-Rama Cafe Wellington recipe. Note that in the interests of fairness and using the cheapest ingredients possible, I’ve calculated the cost of Edam cheese here, but if I was making cheese scones for real, I’d definitely use Tasty; I also assumed the parmesan sprinkle was ¼ cup.

Flour – $0.64

Baking powder – $0.25

Salt – $0.01

Cayenne pepper – $0.07

Butter – $1.74

Cheese – $5.71

Milk – $0.97

Parmesan – $1.21

Total = $10.60 for eight

Total = $5.30 for four

Making cheese scones at home has become much more expensive lately as cheese prices have skyrocketed (file photo)

Karen Coltman / Stuff

Making cheese scones at home has become much more expensive lately as cheese prices have skyrocketed (file photo)

It is a less simple calculation than the other two. Coffee scones are usually bigger than what you would make yourself at home, so these four might be closer to six. If we imagine the Scorch-O-Rama recipe expanded to 12 scones, they cost 88 cents each rather than the $1.33 they come in with a calculation of eight, making them cheaper than the $1.13 per scone. by Countdown.

If you’re happy to use the cheapest ingredients possible, then this is a case where you’re better off cooking at home (though worth noting that the cheapest Tasty would push the price to 1, $17 per scone for 12).

conclusion

I will readily admit that none of this is based on perfect science; we all have different recipes, as well as different favorite ingredients and supermarket baked goods.

These calculations also don’t take into account the difference in nutritional value between homemade and store-bought, or the sheer enjoyment — or lack thereof — of cooking.

But they show that when it comes to reaching for treats, we may be due to a shift in the way we think about cooking time and effort when all those ready-made products are sitting there. , tantalizingly, on the shelves. .

I leave the final word to my mother, to whom I posed the question: When I was a child, if it was cheaper to buy packet cookies than to bake them, would you already have them? bother ?

His answer by SMS: “No”.

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