Sometimes you do old-school stuff because it’s satisfying, or you want to learn a self-reliance skill. But sometimes you just want to save some money.
Sometimes it’s easy to figure out if using an old school tactic saves you money. Thinking only of monetary cost, if you buy a thrift shop sweater for $2, unravel it as we did here, and then knit it into 20 washcloths, (mercy!) you could easily figure out the savings. Divide the number of washcloths into the cost, and you see you’ve paid 10 cents for each washcloth. Subtract that from what you normally pay for a washcloth, and there are your savings.
Notice the Damsel said the MONETARY cost. Knitting 20 washcloths could carry an emotional burden.
But what if you’re trying to figure out the cost of a recipe? That can be trickier when you use items from your pantry or food storage. Take homemade bread, for example. How do you figure out how much a cup of flour costs?
First, you need to find out how many cups are in a pound. The old saying about “a pint’s a pound the world around” works pretty well for sugar, but flour is trickier because it can be fluffed or dense. The Damsel turned to Professor Google. A couple of people actually dumped out a 5 lb. bag of flour and measured the cups. The answer was a surprising 3.75 cups per pound. This agrees with the estimate on the King Arthur Flour website.
The Damsel buys flour by the 25 lb. bag. (remember: 7 sprogs) So if there are 3.75 cups per pound, there are roughly 94 cups of flour in one of those bags. To figure out the price of one cup, divide the cost of the bag by the number of cups: $7.00 / 94 = .074. Let’s say 8 cents.
Ow. Math. The Damsel pauses, recalling why she majored in music.
Other products could be figured by using information on the label. This yeast (The Damsel’s favorite) has 48 tablespoons total in the package. It cost $3.50, so the cost per tablespoon is .07. ($3.50 / 48)
The Damsel has a favorite french bread recipe that calls for 13 cups flour and 3 tablespoons yeast, plus water and salt. (Future post alert!) To make this recipe, it costs $1.04 for the flour (13 x .08) and .21 for the yeast. The Damsel draws the line at figuring out how much a little salt costs. Add a penny if you like. So $1.26. This recipe makes 5 loaves, so the cost is .25 per loaf, not including the cost to run the oven.
Armed with this information, you can make an informed decision. There are several things to weigh out. Cost is just one. Is the homemade product fresher, yummier, or chemical-free? Do you get satisfaction out of making something yourself? Are you able to tailor it to your family’s taste or size?
Then there’s the Homemade Bread Smell Factor. You’re on your own for totaling that up.