February 3, 2010

How To Figure Meal Pricing

I have a knit post coming up for you, but it's not quite done yet. So in the mean time I thought I would share with you how I figure meal prices.

I keep all our grocery receipts. At least for a month or two, just so I can refer back to them when I forget the price on something. It's also handy when I see a price in a flyer and think "Wasn't that X price last month?" (I also keep a price book, but that's a whole 'nother story.)

The easiest part is things I use whole packages for. Pasta is .89 for a 1 pound box. Beans are .99 for 1 pound. Since I usually use a whole package for one meal, then that's easy enough to figure out. 

Meat is usually about the same. Most of the time the price is right on the package, so if I use a whole package then I just take that price. Things like ham, that I use small bits of, are a little more tricky. I have a small scale that I weight things on. From past experience I know that 2 cups of chopped ham is about 6 oz. So I figure the price per ounce. 1 pound = 16 oz.. Therefore, if your meat is 2.99/lb then one ounce will be roughly 18.5 cents (2.99 divided by 16). Multiply the number of ounces used by the price per ounce and there you go! Before I started using the scale I just guesstimated. Something like "How many slices/breasts/quarters per package." It's close enough.

Onions and potatoes and other produce I figure the same way. Weigh it, then figure out the price per pound or ounce and multiply accordingly. For us one onion weighs an average of about 7 oz. We get a 3 pound bag of onions for 99 cents. So for us that means one onion is about 14 cents (33 cents a pound divided by 16 (oz) = .02/oz x 7 oz = .14). 

By the way, my mother is probably laughing her head off as she reads this saying something along the lines of "And you always complained about math! Saying you would never use it! *cackles maniacally*". Yes mum, you were right. You may have your moment of gloating.

The tricky part is the things like powders and large package items. Dry measurements are not the same as liquid measurements. So while one 1/2 cup of milk will weigh 4 ounces, one 1/2 cup of rice will not. I can usually get a pretty big help by reading the nutrition chart and seeing how many servings are in a package. Let's use that rice as an example. I got a 20 pound bag of rice on sale for $6.98 (half of what is usually was!). On the nutrition panel it says that a serving is 1/4 cup (dry), and that there are about 202 servings per package. So each 1/4 cup of rice would be 3 cents ($6.98 divided by 202), making each full cup 12 cents. Pretty easy huh?

For things that don't have a nutrition panel (like spices) I sit and complain about it and consider writing the companies a letter to please put the serving size on the package. Then I start trying to figure it out. For awhile I was just guessing for the most part. I figured the dry measure of garlic powder was roughly the same as a liquid measure since the particles were so small. Then I found the Gourmet Sleuth's Cooking Conversion Calculator. All you have to do is search for whatever you're looking for, then type in what conversion you want (for example tsp to oz.). Then figure the price from that. Garlic powder for us is .02 cents per tsp ($5.01 (on sale) for a 24.7 oz package. 24.7/.099oz (the weight of a tsp of garlic powder) = 250ish teaspoons. $5.01/250 = $0.02!)

I hope that wasn't as confusing as I think I made it. A lot of you are probably thinking that's just a little too anal for you. But, on the off chance that there is someone else out there who was sitting at dinner one night thinking "I wonder how much this meal actually cost" (and how much of a savings it was over going out), then this post is for you! Figuring meal prices has been a big help to me because now I realize that some of the meals I was making just weren't good for our grocery budget. Now I just save those meals as special treats.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for stopping by! I enjoy reading every comment and I will try to get back to you if I'm able.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...