Here at ONIE, we aim to provide low cost and healthy recipes that are easy to prepare. Today we will be breaking down the cost of ONIE’s Easy Skillet Lasagna. This recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare and provides 6 servings.
This meal is full of fiber thanks to whole wheat lasagna noodles and a variety of vegetables! Having different types of vegetables in your meals helps provide a diversity of vitamins and minerals. Choosing lean ground beef in this recipe also promotes good heart health by reducing the amount of saturated fat.
How calculating recipe costs can help
Calculating the cost of your recipes can help you manage your budget better by:
- Showing how much you are spending per meal on an average basis
- Estimating much you can expect to spend per grocery shopping trip
- Identifying more expensive and/or cheaper ingredients
If you are planning a recipe beforehand and find that it doesn’t fit into your budget, you may be able to make the recipe work by reducing or substituting the more expensive ingredients before committing to the meal.
What you need to calculate recipe cost
To calculate the cost of a recipe, you will first need to know what ingredients are involved and their prices.
The next step involves some math, but we will walk you through it. Since the amount you need for the recipe is not always the same amount that you will purchase, things can get tricky.
Most foods are sold by the container, box, bag, bottle, pound. Take the container size and divide by the number of servings you will use to figure out cost per serving. This can be done as price per cup, price per oz., or price per pound.
When using dried spices or seasonings, it may not be as easy to figure out as they don’t usually list the number of servings per container. For easy estimation, use $0.05 per teaspoon for dried spices.
The cost of the shopping trip will be more expensive when you first purchase an ingredient, like olive oil, since you need to purchase the whole container. However, you will be able to get multiple recipe uses from it.
Let’s walk through it together!
Using an ONIE recipe such as Easy Skillet Lasagna, we’ll practice this together.
Step 1: List all of the ingredients and their amounts for the recipe
- 1 lb. 90/10 lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 (8 oz.) carton sliced fresh mushrooms
- 2 (15 oz.) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup minced fresh basil
- 5 oz. whole wheat lasagna pasta
- 1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Step 2: Grocery stores with online shopping make it easy to find prices ahead of time. You can also use paper mail ads to find the cost of goods that are on sale.
In the Search bar, type the ingredients one by one and find the product that best fits your needs, generic or store brands tend to be the cheapest. Write the price next to the ingredient.
|One lb. 90/10 lean ground beef||$5.04|
|One medium onion||$0.54|
|1 bulb garlic(1 bulb garlic has about 10 cloves)||$0.48|
|One large zucchini||$0.81|
|One 8 oz. carton sliced fresh mushrooms||$1.68|
|One 15 oz. can no-salt-added tomato sauce||$0.93|
|One 14.5 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes||$0.72|
|0.5 oz. fresh basil(¼ c basil weighs ⅛ oz.)||$1.98|
|16 oz. box whole wheat lasagna noodles||$1.79|
|One 8 oz. bag shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese(eight ⅓ cup servings)||$1.98|
Step 3: Calculate the cost of servings you will need for each ingredient. For example, we only need 1 ½ cup of mozzarella cheese for our recipe and when we look at the nutrition facts on the bag, we see that this bag provides eight ⅓ cups of mozzarella cheese.
Next, take the cost of the bag ($1.98) and divide by eight to get the cost per serving ($0.25 per ⅓ cup), we then multiply by 3 to get the cost of one cup ($0.75). Then multiply $0.75 by 1.5 to find the cost per 1 ½ cup for our recipe ($1.13). We will repeat this process for the rest of the ingredients:
|1 lb. 90/10 lean ground beef||$5.04|
|1 medium onion||$0.54|
|3 cloves garlic(1 bulb garlic has about 10 cloves)||$0.14|
$0.48/10 bulbs= $0.048 per clove$0.048 x 3 cloves= $0.14 for 3 cloves
|1 large zucchini||$0.81|
|1 (8 oz.) carton sliced fresh mushrooms||$1.68|
|2 (15 oz.) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce||$1.86|
$0.93 each x 2 cans= $1.86 for 2 cans
|1 (14.5 oz.) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes||$0.72|
|¼ c minced fresh basil(¼ cup = ⅛ oz)||$0.50|
$1.98 per container/4 servings = $0.50 for ⅛ oz = ¼ c basil
|5 oz. whole wheat lasagna noodles||$0.56|
$1.79/16= $0.11 per oz$0.11 x 5= $0.56 for 5 oz. pasta
|1 ½ c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese||$1.13|
$1.98/8= $0.25 per ⅓ c serving$0.25 x 3= $0.75 per cup$0.75 x 1.5 cups= $1.13 for 1 ½ c cheese
Step 4: Add up the cost of each ingredient to find the total cost of the recipe. For this example, $5.04 + $0.54 + $0.14 + $0.81 + $1.68 + $1.86 + $0.72 + $0.50 + $0.56 + $1.13= $12.98. To find the cost per serving, divide total recipe cost ($12.98) by the number of servings (6) in the recipe. This recipe comes out to $2.16 per serving.
This may take some time at first, but it will get easier overtime as you become familiar with the cost of ingredients!