01 August 2014

The CPR (Cost Per Recipe) Calculator

One of the things I'm asked most often is how I keep our food budget so low. This year my grocery budget is $320 a month and so far we are not only under budget but we are eating well too.

There are lots of  things I do to keep the grocery budget down, and I've covered them in other posts, and no doubt I'll go over them in future posts.

But the thing that really helps to keep our food bill down is knowing how much a recipe costs. I first wrote about the CPR Calculator in August 2013, and I thought it was time to remind you all about it, especially as this week I've had two questions just on the cost of recipes in the Cheapskates Recipe File.

We've all see the ads on TV for family dinners for under $10, or Jamie Oliver getting excited over a meal that cost £2.36 a serve (which by the way at today's exchange rate is $4.29 a serve - almost my budget for the whole meal). But then when you get the recipe and actually make the dish you realise it costs a whole lot more.

There are a couple of reasons for this:
1.These recipes usually use premium ingredients.
2.These recipes usually contain ingredients you wouldn't normally buy.
3.These recipes contain ingredients bought at full price in supermarkets.

If you really want to know how much your recipes cost you need to calculate the exact cost of the ingredients. It's a bit of a pain having to work out how though. Or it has been. A little while ago I was despairing, doing the math for a bunch of new recipes was sending me grey and giving me wrinkles. And that's when I decided to do the math once for all the basic ingredients I use and keep a record of them.

And so the CPR Calculator was created. It's a simple sheet with a list of ingredients down the side and a list of serving sizes across the top.

Next to each ingredient you can jot down the price for each portion (and the prices will vary depending on where you shop, how you shop and of course what you buy - organic products being pricier than regular and so on).

Now when you find a recipe and want to know the exact cost you can get your CPR Calculator and do the math, quickly and easily. Then you can decide if the recipe fits your budget as is, or if you can make some adjustments and substitutions to make it fit.

I love this A4 sheet. I printed it off and laminated it and it's stuck on the inside of the baking cupboard door. I use a white board marker to make changes to prices as they go up and down so it's always up to date.

Click here to get your CPR (Cost Per Recipe) Calculator

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