Cooking & BakingRecipesSnacksU Do It

Inflation Cure – Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies at Home

If you want to stave off the effects of inflation, then baking chocolate chip cookies at home is one of many ways to save money. The cost of everything is up due to inflation and other factors. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon. Rather, inflation is likely to spike as we enter severe economic conditions. We all heard the stories that McDonald’s is no longer an affordable option for low-income families and Wendy’s is switching to surge pricing. We will learn how to survive 2024 together!

Current Cost of Ingredients

As of March 3rd, 2024, the cost of the following ingredients at the Woolwich ShopRite is shown below along with the volume converted to measurements used in baking:

  • Bowl & Basket 5lb bag of flour $3.50 (18 cups)
  • Bowl & Basket 8.1 oz of baking powder is $2.49 (45 teaspoons)
  • Bowl & Basket 4lb bag of sugar $3.79 (9 cups)
  • Bowl & Basket 8fl oz of Imitation Vanilla Flavor $1.29 (16 tablespoons)
  • Bowl & Basket 2lb bag of Light Brown Sugar $2.79 (4 cups)
  • Bowl & Basket 24oz bag of Semi-Sweet Chocolate $4.99 (3 cups)
  • Bowl & Basket 1lb of Sweet Cream Salted Butter $3.99 (2 cups)
  • Bowl & Basket  26oz Iodized Salt $0.69 (122 teaspoons)
  • Bowl & Basket dozen large eggs $3.50 (12 eggs)

I chose ShopRite because it is my favorite supermarket for buying my everyday needs. ShopRite has its in-house brand, which is bowl & basket. They have done a great job with their product line. As an example, I prefer bowl & basket chocolate ice cream over other brands because it is super creamy and tastes great.

The total cost of all of these ingredients to be purchased for your baking needs is $23.  We will not determine how many batches of cookies we can make from this ingredient list. Instead, we will focus on making one batch of cookies.

Cost of Cookies for Comparison

This section lists a few different brands of cookies and their cost normalized per pound. This will make it easier to compare the cost of baking our cookies.

  • ShopRite 20oz Container of Freshly Baked Cookies $4.99 ($3.99 per pound)
  • Chips Ahoy 13oz package of Chocolate Chip Cookies $3.59 ($4.91 per pound)
  • Entenmann’s 12oz box of Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies $4.79 ($6.38 per pound)

Chocolate Cookie Recipe

The prices are based on the ShopRite Bowl & Basket brand products for one batch. This also includes the weight of the major ingredients that we can tally for an approximate weight of the cookies after baking.

  • 3 1/2 cups flour ($0.68) (1lb)
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder ($0.06)
  • 3/4 cup sugar ($0.31) (1/3lb)
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla ($0.08)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar ($0.52) (1/3lb)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips ($1.66) (1/2lb)
  • 1 cup of salted butter ($2.00) (1/2lb)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt ($0.02)
  • 1 egg ($0.29) (2oz)

U Do It chocolate chip cookies preparation area

The total cost of this batch of cookies is $5.63, which will yield approximately 2.5 pounds. This means that it costs us $2.25 per pound of cookies, which is nearly half the cost of buying cookies at the store. There’s a lot more math we can do to see how many batches of cookies we can bake based on the set of ingredients list. But, we’ll save that for another post. It’s unlikely that you will use the ingredients to solely bake cookies. You’re likely to use the remaining ingredients for other purposes. So we just proved what we knew all along, which is cooking and baking for yourself can save you a bunch of money.

The recipe that I followed was by John Kanell of Preppy Kitchen and you can see his Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe here. I am not going to go into the recipe. Rather, you can follow along with his instructions in his video.

Analysis

Please note that I did not include other factors in my analysis as I feel they are negligible:

  • The energy cost and wear of operating the oven
  • The energy cost and wear of operating the mixer
  • Water usage cost and the cost of cleaning supplies for cleaning surfaces, utensils, and kitchenware
  • Cost of disposing of items
  • I did not include the parchment paper that I used, but so you know it is a game changer when it comes to baking or even cooking on a sheet in the oven.

These items would become significant if you were running as a cottage food operator, where you were cooking and baking for several hours a day. That is not the case with this one and done analysis.

History Repeats Itself

I’m 54 years old and was born in 1969. My grandparents were born right before the Roaring 20s. They were from the generation where they made a home-cooked meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My grandparents survived the great depression as children.

Although I didn’t appreciate the stories and lessons they shared with me at the time I can say with certainty that I do now. I vividly remember helping my mother make scrambled eggs one morning in my early years. I cracked the eggs and tossed the shells in the trash. My grandmother scolded me for that action because I didn’t scrape out the rest of the egg whites into the bowl. She proceeded to explain why and what she went through. Again, I didn’t appreciate that lesson at that time. But now I do since we are repeating history with the Great Depression 2.0 in full swing.

The Purpose of this Exercise

I’m an engineer and my ADHD superpower is that I love analyzing things. My gut tells me that baking cookies from scratch is cheaper. But, I’m having a difficult time just accepting that feeling. So I began writing this, which allowed me to gather my thoughts and the facts based on the Preppy Kitchen’s recipe.

Our Generation in New Jersey

For our generation in New Jersey, I know that going out to dinner or going through the drive-thru to grab a meal has been a frequent occurrence. Our lives have become so busy that taking the time to cook for ourselves is no longer an option. Since 2020 until now, we have been bombarded with many scenarios that have affected our finances. The biggest factor in our finances is inflation at the present moment. Going out to dinner is no longer a viable alternative.

Considering that the cost of a Quater Pounder with Cheese Meal at the McDonald’s in Paulsboro, NJ is $10.70, feeding a family of four could cost over $40. Flashback three years ago we could go out to dinner at a restaurant and feed a family of four for $50 including tip. Going out to dinner at a restaurant now with a family of four can easily cost $100 including tip.

Learning the Hard Way

Humans in general are strong and can adapt. Many of us are unwilling to go out to a restaurant even though this is what we have done nearly every breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the past 20 years. We don’t want to spend $100 on a meal. Our wallets are being stretched further and further as the cost of everything from food, to fuel, to insurance, our streaming services, to merchandising, and beyond have gone way up. We are removing the things from our lives that are no longer necessary. Going out to dinner is not necessary. It is now a luxury.

This has a further effect on everything as those businesses that were accustomed to having lines wrapping around the building for dinner have many empty tables. The staff is reduced as a result, which is removing more money from the economy and it just tumbles out of control. Those employees that are no longer working can’t afford to do the things that they were able to do in the past. That’s where we are at now. We are 14 months into the Great Depression 2.0 and few recognize it.

How to Survive 2024

You’re making changes to your lifestyle to survive and I’m here to help! I’m here to prove that it is possible to cook your dinner and save a ton. It’s also possible to fix things on your own, and I’m here to show you how. Has your gas grill stopped working? Maybe the element needs to be replaced. You are possibly considering fixing it yourself now since the cost of a new gas grill is as much as a used car. And yes, I show you how to fix your grill. You want to build a shed but now the contractor wants $12,000 to build it? I even show you how to do that on your own and save a bunch.

We’ll do this together and help others save money and we can survive 2024 and beyond.

My Favorite Mixer

I bought my KitchenAid mixer over 20 years ago. I used it to prepare over 100 cheesecakes, nearly 1000 cookies, home made pasta dough and many cakes. And it was used in preparing these cookies.

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