Author Topic: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant  (Read 7583 times)

Cranky

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #50 on: September 09, 2017, 01:26:31 PM »
And I do love good, fresh walleye - but again, it's seasonal, plus the worry about contamination , means it's a very, very occasional treat.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #51 on: September 09, 2017, 04:21:46 PM »
Ok, your first mistake is not telling us how many servings were in the dessert and working out the cost per serving. The second is ignoring the fact that restaurants deal in economies of scale - they make 100 desserts at a time and buy in bulk which saves money. Third is that restaurants plan their menus around what they're been able to buy cheap, usually because it's in season. Did you? And the fourth mistake is that restaurants also have to factor in such things as rent and staffing costs, while you don't.

iowajes

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #52 on: September 09, 2017, 06:20:18 PM »

So for 72 hot dogs (3 packs of buns, 2 packs of dogs) it costs: $67.43.  That is $0.94 cents a hot dog.  Which leaves 56 cents for the soda.  Fountain soda is CHEAP.   And that isn't Costco's cost for the food items, i'm just using their prices to compare.

Yes, there are staffing costs, but unless you want to tell me the entire food court is a loss leader on that (and it might be)- I'm not thinking the "famous" hot dog combo is losing them much.

You're also forgetting the cost of heating/cooling/storing/spoilage for the ingredients, the cost of the napkins, plates, cups, and other things, the cost of employing workers (also gotta include payroll, insurance), and the overhead (insurance, ect). Then you also have to factor in equipment and depreciation and many more things. I don't know how most restaurants figure it, but if you're selling an item for $1.50 and your cost of ingredients is around a buck, then yes you are losing money on each sale once you add in everything else.

But -I- can get the ingredients for less than a buck. Surely Costco pays way less than that.


rdaneel0

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #53 on: September 09, 2017, 06:29:47 PM »
Home cooking is always cheaper than eating out, but only if you compare items of equal quality.

I can purchase a $25 steak at the butcher and it's true that I'll have spent $25 on one meat serving. However, steak is often marked up around 150% in restaurants, so that same steak at a good steakhouse would cost $75. It's not fair to compare the cost of a $25 homemade steak with a steak dinner from a chain restaurant that's far inferior in quality.

You can spend a huge amount of money cooking at home if you pay no regards to luxury items versus inexpensive staples. People who randomly choose new recipes and then buy a bunch of ingredients to make each new meal often overspend and get the impression that home cooking isn't that great of a deal. Meal planning is just a skill that involves strategically planning menus while keeping a nicely stocked kitchen that eliminates the need to purchase high price items in small quantities over and over again.


Roland of Gilead

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #54 on: September 09, 2017, 07:29:06 PM »
One other thing I think you just can't beat by making it at home is the Papa Murphy's Tuesday special any large pizza for $10.   You can get the stuffed crust pizza with everything on it and that sucker seriously can feed 4 to 5 people.  Even if you made your own dough/crust I do not think you could buy the sauce, cheese and all of the veggies and meats that thing has on it.

Noodle

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #55 on: September 10, 2017, 08:52:56 AM »
I think of cooking as having three different tiers. Tier 1 is full-on Mustachian cooking--lots of cheap staples and in-season produce, inexpensive proteins judicially used, planning recipes and menus to use available ingredients, never wasting food, no convenience foods, making staples like yogurt from scratch, perhaps leveraging sales, coupons, outlet stores, etc. to buy as cheaply as possible.

Tier 2 is mid-range cooking. You probably use  a few of Tier 1 strategies, but you don't feel bound to follow all of them.

Tier 3 is cooking whatever you want whenever you want, shopping at very expensive stores, tossing leftovers, etc.

You can always save money by dropping down a tier, but the costs in terms of skill, time and family buy-in rise at the same time. And it's harder to drop from Tier 2 to Tier 1 than from Tier 3 to Tier 2. Personally, I am totally capable of cooking at Tier 1, and have (as a poor grad student), but frankly I don't want to any more. I like being able to whip up a batch of chocolate-chip cookies whenever I want. There may be a few people who are at Tier 2 because they don't know about Tier 1, but I think most people are making rational decisions based on their personal circumstances. (See that other thread about spouses who refuse to cooperate with various money-saving strategies on groceries.)

The original recipe cited in this thread could be either Tier 2 or Tier 3 depending on how often you cook like that, how many servings, and where the ingredients were obtained. So it could be either a rational treat, or it could be a symptom of grocery ridiculousness.


Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #56 on: September 10, 2017, 09:41:43 AM »
One other thing I think you just can't beat by making it at home is the Papa Murphy's Tuesday special any large pizza for $10.   You can get the stuffed crust pizza with everything on it and that sucker seriously can feed 4 to 5 people.  Even if you made your own dough/crust I do not think you could buy the sauce, cheese and all of the veggies and meats that thing has on it.

I got curious because I make pizza at home, and I found on this blog, that two cheese pizzas can be made at home for $3.25, or $1.62 per pizza.  Of course, that's without adding meat, which I don't eat anyway. But I think even if you add some meat toppings, it would still come out far less than $10.00.

Little Caesar's has one topping, ready to go pizza for $6.00 and that is usually what we get, if we buy pizza instead of making it at home.

CiCi's all you can eat pizza buffet is very cheap, also and kids  age 2 and under, eat free.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #57 on: September 10, 2017, 10:03:55 AM »
Again, to make a fair comparison, you have to realize exactly how big the large stuffed crust with everything pizza is.  I think it is around 5 pounds.  Normal price is $17 or $18 so $10 is a real discount.

We cut it in half and cook half each day.  Even doing that we are probably eating double what we should eat.  It is a sometimes food for sure, not every week or even every month.

nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #58 on: September 10, 2017, 10:38:28 AM »
My understanding from a culinary arts class some years ago: The rough rule of thumb for restaurants is just under 1/3 of the price covers ingredients, a little under 1/3 labor, and again just under 1/3 overhead (rent, insurance, ...). Profit margins are thin, in the 2-5% range. Restaurants buy wholesale so they get ingredients for less but then they also need to make a profit, so an equivalent dish prepared at home will always be 1/3 the cost unless it's a loss leader.
+1
From someone who has spent years in the food industry:  rule of thumb is the menu cost is ~1/3 the ingredient cost at service restaurants. For "white linen" (aka high-end) places the ratio is more like 1/4, as have more a higher ratio of staff to clients.  Restaurants have to take so many shortcuts to get consistent meals in front of their clients in a timely manner.  With just a modicum of skill one can cook similar meals at home for a fraction of the cost.

Despite popular perception that restaurants are buying the "highest quality ingredients" or are somehow getting mad wholesale discounts from distributors, restaurants are basically buying the same stuff available to the home cook.
Go into any CostCo when it opens on Thursday and note the half dozen men (and they are almost always men) with 100lb+ of meat in a cart.  They are chefs at small independent restaurants.  Chain restaurants and larger restaurants generally get meat and produce delivered directly, but they are saving time, not cost.  When I worked the distribution end and sold seafood to both the public and restaurants our biggest customers payed just 15% less with standing $1,000+ bi-weekly orders than Joe-Shmoe who walked up and wanted to buy half a pound of shrimp.
What good restaurants do brilliantly is put everything to use.  Chowders and stews are popular specials on Mondays because they gobble up any unsold and soon-to-spoil meat and fish. Carrot tops and onion peels go into "the pot" to make stock (almost every good kitchen has one).
And ultimately, chefs buy ingredients based on what is cheap and what can give them a good return on their investment.
All of these are tricks home cooks can also employ. 
By and large we eat like kings in our household, and the per-plate cost to us is typically under $3.
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RetiredAt63

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #59 on: September 10, 2017, 12:45:40 PM »
^  I was in line at Costco (Ottawa) once behind a couple who run a restaurant outside of Ottawa.  Lots of meat in their cart.  Regular Costco price.
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Cranky

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #60 on: September 10, 2017, 01:40:30 PM »
A trip to Gordon Food Service is also instructive.

I buy the giant cans of pizza sauce there and freeze it in individual pizza sizes. Also pepperoni is incredibly inexpensive. It probably adds 25 cents to the price of a large pizza.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #61 on: September 11, 2017, 12:34:30 AM »
Do restaurants still put "loss leader" items on their menus?

I never worked in one that did. The real profit was in drinks. A bottle of wine cost the restaurant $10, and would make 5 glasses, sold for $4.50 each, so $2 profit per glass. Coke came from a box of syrup mixed with soda water through a machine, was sold for $2 and cost about $0.25 to make. And so on. Ten years later that product cost would be lower while the retail cost is higher.

We experimented and found that putting extra salt in food raised drink sales 25%, ie at a table of 4, one person would order an extra drink as a result.


rdanlee0 expressed it well in saying that if you just buy a bunch of random ingredients for one recipe you've never done before, you'll get the impression home cooking is expensive. The comparison with restaurants is useful: restaurants have a menu and a plan, and in so doing they rely on a few basic perishable ingredients, plus a lot of less-used but non-perishable ingredients, and they carefully choose how much of each to buy so as to minimise food wastage.


Restaurants have a menu and a stocklist. Do you?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 12:44:41 AM by Kyle Schuant »
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nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #62 on: September 11, 2017, 05:09:00 AM »
Do restaurants still put "loss leader" items on their menus?

I never worked in one that did. The real profit was in drinks. A bottle of wine cost the restaurant $10, and would make 5 glasses, sold for $4.50 each, so $2 profit per glass. Coke came from a box of syrup mixed with soda water through a machine, was sold for $2 and cost about $0.25 to make. And so on. 
The real loss-leaders are the things they don't charge for at all - the basket of bread and the salty (always salty!) barsnacks designed to increase patrons' thirst.
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MrsPete

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #63 on: September 11, 2017, 07:08:20 PM »
Now, I'm sure you're thinking of all the things I did wrong here. I didn't have to pick a recipe with fancy ingredients like rhubarb and sage, and I could have gotten the almonds at Costco instead of Whole Foods.
Yeah, I am thinking that.  I'm also thinking that for that much money you must've made a dessert large enough for the family to enjoy for several days ... that doesn't stack up against a one-serving purchase from a restaurant. 

I just made a two layer chocolate cake with filling, ganache, and marshmalllow fondant cover for under 10$/16 servings. Easily fits within our reasonable 4$/person/day food framework.
Yes, for "everyday" I often make doctored-up cake mixes in a bundt pan /no icing ... that tends to run $3-4 for a cake, which lasts a week.  Not a big expense at all.

I stand by what I said. I know many ways to make meals less expensive, but some meals are not within reach if you want to FIRE. You have to give some things up to reach your goals. You can choose to either be really fancy like people in the movies, or you can choose to accept reality, make some sacrifices, and get rich. That's just how it is.
Eh, if you say "some meals are not within reach ON A REGULAR BASIS if you want to reach FIRE", then I'll agree.  We cook really excellent steaks or swordfish (accompanied by fresh vegetables and my homemade cheesecake, which beats Cheesecake Factory on their best day) on special occasions -- Valentine's Day, our anniversary, maybe Mother's Day.  These are expensive meals, but less expensive than going out to dinner for those holidays.  Now, if we cooked with those expensive ingredients every weekend -- yeah -- I'd say it would be an obstacle to long-term success, but occasionally it's a reasonable splurge. 

It's all individual choices, cilantro tastes soapy to me so I don't use it. 
My Chemist SIL says that's in your DNA.  To me, cilantro tastes like freshness and springtime; I'd eat a whole bowl of the stuff -- and I can't think of another food I'd describe with that phrase.  But if you're in the DNA group for whom it tastes like soap, it'll always be that way for you -- it's not about the recipe or the preparation. 

There is no way I could make a Costco rotisserie chicken for the price they sell them.  I mean you have to account for oven electricity and washing the pans afterwards.
True, but I can make a much, much better roasted chicken.  The same is true of lasagna:  I can make a better lasagna, but (on sale at least) Stouffers beats me on price.

Do restaurants still put "loss leader" items on their menus?
I don't know about that, but I've read that people are most likely to order #3 on the menu ... so restaurants put their highest-profit item as the third item on the menu.  I've looked over various menus with this in mind, and I think it's true -- at least for big chains whose menu is created at the regional/national level, probably not true for Mom & Pop's diner. 

rdanlee0 expressed it well in saying that if you just buy a bunch of random ingredients for one recipe you've never done before, you'll get the impression home cooking is expensive.
Whereas, if you're looking at a recipe for "good old home cooking", you may already have everything you need.  For example, today I was trolling Pinterest and came across a White Chicken Chili recipe I thought looked good -- yep, I already had everything in my pantry:  Frozen chicken, it called for White Northern Beans but I had Canelllis, can of green chilis, and some spices.  DONE.

RetiredAt63

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #64 on: September 12, 2017, 10:28:09 AM »
It's all individual choices, cilantro tastes soapy to me so I don't use it. 
My Chemist SIL says that's in your DNA.  To me, cilantro tastes like freshness and springtime; I'd eat a whole bowl of the stuff -- and I can't think of another food I'd describe with that phrase.  But if you're in the DNA group for whom it tastes like soap, it'll always be that way for you -- it's not about the recipe or the preparation. 

Oh, I know - it just means that if there is cilantro in the recipe, it isn't in my version.  Just like I don't like anise (or black licorice).  So I don't grow them or use them.   

Part of the home-cooking trick is to know which ingredients you/your family like or avoid, so you don't end up making something you don't like, or your family won't eat.
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Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #65 on: September 12, 2017, 11:00:21 AM »
What I have seen, is that restaurants price most of their entree items, around the same. So if you're a vegetarian, you will still pay almost as much as a person buying steak. Which is one reason I don't like restaurants anymore. I feel forced into spending X amount of money, no matter what. I totally understand, as a business, they need to earn profits, but they have gotten pretty aggressive in recent years towards their customers. And service isn't always that great.

nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #66 on: September 12, 2017, 11:20:20 AM »
What I have seen, is that restaurants price most of their entree items, around the same. So if you're a vegetarian, you will still pay almost as much as a person buying steak. Which is one reason I don't like restaurants anymore. I feel forced into spending X amount of money, no matter what. I totally understand, as a business, they need to earn profits, but they have gotten pretty aggressive in recent years towards their customers. And service isn't always that great.
I must admit, I'm curious about your recent experiences with eating out and which restaurants you are visiting (and how you are finding them).  For certain the place that gave you your cheque while you were still eating and refused to serve you coffee was run by an owner who was overly concerned with 'turnover' and should be avoided.

The complaint about vegetarian meals costing almost as much as ones with meat is one I hear a lot, and honestly I think the outrage is misguided.  Very little of what you are paying for is the cost of the ingredients. Regardless of what you order your dishes must be cleaned, a server must bring them to you and the fixed costs (rent, electricity, decor, payroll etc) don't change. To be sure a $14 salad costs less and takes less time to prepare than a steak, but some dishes (looking at you veggie risotto!) actually take more effort in the kitchen than the steak.

FWIW and despite my previous employment (or perhaps because of it?) we rarely go out anymore either. when we do we make an effort to eat at places that will give us experiences we value, which the opposite of places that are obsessed with turnover or that make dishes we frquently make at home.  YMMV.
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Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #67 on: September 12, 2017, 05:30:25 PM »
What I have seen, is that restaurants price most of their entree items, around the same. So if you're a vegetarian, you will still pay almost as much as a person buying steak. Which is one reason I don't like restaurants anymore. I feel forced into spending X amount of money, no matter what. I totally understand, as a business, they need to earn profits, but they have gotten pretty aggressive in recent years towards their customers. And service isn't always that great.
I must admit, I'm curious about your recent experiences with eating out and which restaurants you are visiting (and how you are finding them).  For certain the place that gave you your cheque while you were still eating and refused to serve you coffee was run by an owner who was overly concerned with 'turnover' and should be avoided.

The complaint about vegetarian meals costing almost as much as ones with meat is one I hear a lot, and honestly I think the outrage is misguided.  Very little of what you are paying for is the cost of the ingredients. Regardless of what you order your dishes must be cleaned, a server must bring them to you and the fixed costs (rent, electricity, decor, payroll etc) don't change. To be sure a $14 salad costs less and takes less time to prepare than a steak, but some dishes (looking at you veggie risotto!) actually take more effort in the kitchen than the steak.

I don't really agree that you're paying for the cost of service when you buy food at a restaurant. The service is paid for separately as a tip to the waiter, so that's not really worked into the food costs. The businesses around here pay waiters $2.17 an hour (which is nothing) and they have to earn tips, which they have to share with the bus boys, cooks, etc. Some restaurants pay their waiters nothing because they hire what they call "interns" from local high schools to work for so-called "job training". They even have to buy their own uniforms.

I'm not outraged at the cost of the food, I just don't buy it anymore from restaurants. I don't see why a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce should cost $22.00 and a meat entree with shrimp or lobster cost $22.50.  That just seems strange.   




nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #68 on: September 12, 2017, 06:01:53 PM »
of course you are paying for service.  There's a lot more that goes into your meal than the server who brings it to you.  The hostess who takes your reservation and seats you, the dishwasher who makes sure everything is clean, the prep-cook(s) & pantry girl/boy & line cook that all play a hand in actually cooking and plating your meal, the maître d'hotel/manager who makes things run smoothly, the cleaners who wipe every single surface before & after every service...  there's a lot of service that goes into a meal where everything is brought to you and everything is cleaned up afterward.
Roughly a third of your meal goes towards paying all those people ("payroll").  Those costs, along with the overhead (rent, utilities, decor) are basically fixed regardless of what you order.
Yes, the runners and servers often make crap wages and rely on tips, but the whole kitchen doesn't (except in rare cases where the house splits all tips).

Quote
don't see why a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce should cost $22.00 and a meat entree with shrimp or lobster cost $22.50.  That just seems strange.
Well - I've never seen *that* big of a price discrepancy before (or lobster that cheap outside of Maine in the summer)- but ~2/3 of the cost of every plate has nothing to do with the ingredients.  That's the major reason why dishes all cluster around a price point for a given establishment. If its house-made pasta and sauce, yes that ought to cost a similar amount to other meat dishes. If its not... well don't order it. Anywhere.  Ever. (just my 2¢ about dried pasta in general).

IMO a better question to ask yourself is this:  Is this meal of spaghetti with tomato sauce worth the price I pay given the experience?  If the answer is no, well then you have your answer. Many restaurants aren't worth the price but its an individual decision.

Just to be clear, i'm not trying to be harsh or attack anyone; hopefully my resposnes explain some common how restaurants run as a business.
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Kyle Schuant

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #69 on: September 12, 2017, 08:42:39 PM »
Put another way, you are not paying for the nutritional value or taste of the food so much as you are paying for the experience - the food presentation, the chairs and tables, the music, the atmosphere or the place, someone else cleans up, and so on.


The last proper restaurant meal I had was at an upmarket pub. I had the roo steak and my friend had a parmagiana, we each had a Guinness. It was I think $72 in all. I had a nice lunch and a nice adult conversation with a friend, it was worth it. Now, I can't afford to do that every day, but...


I don't begrudge them the money. The limit on my restaurant spending is not my wallet, it's my children. With a 6yo at school and a 1yo at home, and working from home while my wife does a 9-5, I just don't get out often.
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nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #70 on: September 12, 2017, 08:54:52 PM »

The last proper restaurant meal I had was at an upmarket pub. I had the roo steak and my friend had a parmagiana, we each had a Guinness. It was I think $72 in all. I had a nice lunch and a nice adult conversation with a friend, it was worth it. Now, I can't afford to do that every day, but...

Why the teeny-tiny font Kyle?  I couldn't even read it until clicked "respond".

Odd - I've never eaten 'Roo before (guessing that's Kangaroo?). That surprises me as I've tried a lot of different critters.  What does it taste like?
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ohsnap

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #71 on: September 13, 2017, 01:36:06 PM »
Again, to make a fair comparison, you have to realize exactly how big the large stuffed crust with everything pizza is.  I think it is around 5 pounds.  Normal price is $17 or $18 so $10 is a real discount.

We cut it in half and cook half each day.  Even doing that we are probably eating double what we should eat.  It is a sometimes food for sure, not every week or even every month.

I agree with you on the value of this pizza.  I did the same math, and used to get one of the stuffed-crust pizzas about twice a month on Tuesdays.  It fed my whole family of 4 that night, plus lunch leftover for a couple of us the next day.  Both of the Papa Murphy's near us closed in the last 2 years. :(

It's very good re-heated - why do you only bake half of it at a time?  Heating the oven costs $, you know! ;)

nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #72 on: September 13, 2017, 02:14:06 PM »

It's very good re-heated - why do you only bake half of it at a time?  Heating the oven costs $, you know! ;)
Only during the summer for us cold-climate folks.
:-P
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Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #73 on: September 13, 2017, 04:47:12 PM »
Well, a lot of people criticize Starbuck's coffee saying it's over priced, but they don't realize that it's not coffee off a burner. Each drink is individually hand-made, that's why it costs so much. The milk has to be foamed, most of the drinks are espresso based and therefore espresso machines are needed to make them.

ohsnap

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #74 on: September 13, 2017, 05:11:11 PM »
Well, a lot of people criticize Starbuck's coffee saying it's over priced, but they don't realize that it's not coffee off a burner. Each drink is individually hand-made, that's why it costs so much. The milk has to be foamed, most of the drinks are espresso based and therefore espresso machines are needed to make them.

Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #75 on: September 13, 2017, 05:32:22 PM »
Well, a lot of people criticize Starbuck's coffee saying it's over priced, but they don't realize that it's not coffee off a burner. Each drink is individually hand-made, that's why it costs so much. The milk has to be foamed, most of the drinks are espresso based and therefore espresso machines are needed to make them.
Yup.  Another good example of how the ingredients are actually a minor portion of the total cost.  Beans and milk probably cost <$1 per drink. But then you have 3 employees working (payroll), a good location (rent) with nice decor (overhead);etc.
The MMM thing to do of course is make your own at home - much like meals.

Quote
Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

Consider the coffee shop as a business for a minute though.  How much would you charge to earn a reasonable profit? The drip coffee costs almost nothing in the way of ingredients - just water and two tablespoons of coffee (roughly 30 servings per pound, bought wholesale for ~$5 is about 25¢.
So if a customer only buys that drip coffee you're taking in $1.80.  It's a very high percentage but a very low absolute amount. Right off the bat there is LESS profit on that $2.05 "short drip" than a latte. Drop the price to, say, $1 and you're left with only two profitable choices - sell in volume or hope your customers also buy some food.  Sounds like strategies a lot of other places use, no?

Yeah, it takes a lot less time but you still have to pay your employees. It would be nice if you could serve more customers per employee this way, but unless you change your entire concept you're still keeping the same number on staff to make all the more complicated drinks. Youv'e still got the same expensive overhead and that customer may be just as likely to occupy an overstuffed chair blogging, preventing another customer from doing the same.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of ingredients are a minor portion of the purchase price.
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Kyle Schuant

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #76 on: September 13, 2017, 10:26:59 PM »
Why the teeny-tiny font Kyle?  I couldn't even read it until clicked "respond".
On my screen, everyone's post has the same sized font. Must be something wacky your end.

Quote
Odd - I've never eaten 'Roo before (guessing that's Kangaroo?). That surprises me as I've tried a lot of different critters.  What does it taste like?
It's just a normal red game meat, like deer or the like. Rich flavour, but lean - so you have to eat it rare, or marinade it. The beasts have to be culled regularly anyway, so after decades as pet food they've made their way into supermarkets.

Relevant media discussion about food and other costs,

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-13/how-to-save-on-household-expenses/8936088
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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #77 on: September 14, 2017, 05:49:29 AM »
There are two important things I've learnt in the kitchen that save me a fortune and keep grocery costs way down:

  • Buy what's in season. If it's out of season, it's not going to be cheap
  • Plan a menu. If I'm cooking something that has tomatoes and fresh basil as an ingredient you better believe those will show up in another meal later in the week

Both of these used to be basic 'home economics', and we used to eat seasonally as it was the only option. Both correctly applied will provide delicious eating for the rest of your life at a low cost.

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #78 on: September 14, 2017, 01:28:00 PM »

Quote
Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

Consider the coffee shop as a business for a minute though.  How much would you charge to earn a reasonable profit? The drip coffee costs almost nothing in the way of ingredients - just water and two tablespoons of coffee (roughly 30 servings per pound, bought wholesale for ~$5 is about 25¢.
So if a customer only buys that drip coffee you're taking in $1.80.  It's a very high percentage but a very low absolute amount. Right off the bat there is LESS profit on that $2.05 "short drip" than a latte. Drop the price to, say, $1 and you're left with only two profitable choices - sell in volume or hope your customers also buy some food.  Sounds like strategies a lot of other places use, no?

Yeah, it takes a lot less time but you still have to pay your employees. It would be nice if you could serve more customers per employee this way, but unless you change your entire concept you're still keeping the same number on staff to make all the more complicated drinks. Youv'e still got the same expensive overhead and that customer may be just as likely to occupy an overstuffed chair blogging, preventing another customer from doing the same.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of ingredients are a minor portion of the purchase price.

Yes.  My "insane markup" doesn't mean pure profit, it means anything above what you'd pay at home (basically, coffee beans).  Labor, equipment, rent, and of course the profit.  To me, paying $2.05 for a cup of coffee that I could probably make at home for $.15 is an insane markup that I'm not usually willing to pay.

MgoSam

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #79 on: September 14, 2017, 02:36:43 PM »

Quote
Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

Consider the coffee shop as a business for a minute though.  How much would you charge to earn a reasonable profit? The drip coffee costs almost nothing in the way of ingredients - just water and two tablespoons of coffee (roughly 30 servings per pound, bought wholesale for ~$5 is about 25¢.
So if a customer only buys that drip coffee you're taking in $1.80.  It's a very high percentage but a very low absolute amount. Right off the bat there is LESS profit on that $2.05 "short drip" than a latte. Drop the price to, say, $1 and you're left with only two profitable choices - sell in volume or hope your customers also buy some food.  Sounds like strategies a lot of other places use, no?

Yeah, it takes a lot less time but you still have to pay your employees. It would be nice if you could serve more customers per employee this way, but unless you change your entire concept you're still keeping the same number on staff to make all the more complicated drinks. Youv'e still got the same expensive overhead and that customer may be just as likely to occupy an overstuffed chair blogging, preventing another customer from doing the same.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of ingredients are a minor portion of the purchase price.

Yes.  My "insane markup" doesn't mean pure profit, it means anything above what you'd pay at home (basically, coffee beans).  Labor, equipment, rent, and of course the profit.  To me, paying $2.05 for a cup of coffee that I could probably make at home for $.15 is an insane markup that I'm not usually willing to pay.

You should bear in mind that they aren't trying to sell to you, nor to me, but instead to the people that will pay whatever to get coffee fix.

Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #80 on: September 14, 2017, 02:49:10 PM »

Quote
Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

Consider the coffee shop as a business for a minute though.  How much would you charge to earn a reasonable profit? The drip coffee costs almost nothing in the way of ingredients - just water and two tablespoons of coffee (roughly 30 servings per pound, bought wholesale for ~$5 is about 25¢.
So if a customer only buys that drip coffee you're taking in $1.80.  It's a very high percentage but a very low absolute amount. Right off the bat there is LESS profit on that $2.05 "short drip" than a latte. Drop the price to, say, $1 and you're left with only two profitable choices - sell in volume or hope your customers also buy some food.  Sounds like strategies a lot of other places use, no?

Yeah, it takes a lot less time but you still have to pay your employees. It would be nice if you could serve more customers per employee this way, but unless you change your entire concept you're still keeping the same number on staff to make all the more complicated drinks. Youv'e still got the same expensive overhead and that customer may be just as likely to occupy an overstuffed chair blogging, preventing another customer from doing the same.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of ingredients are a minor portion of the purchase price.

Yes.  My "insane markup" doesn't mean pure profit, it means anything above what you'd pay at home (basically, coffee beans).  Labor, equipment, rent, and of course the profit.  To me, paying $2.05 for a cup of coffee that I could probably make at home for $.15 is an insane markup that I'm not usually willing to pay.

Do you have an espresso machine and a milk foamer?

I can't make Starbucks drinks at home because I don't have those things in my kitchen. Cappuccinos and lattes are espresso based drinks with foamed milk on top. They aren't just an ordinary cup of coffee. Each drink is made individually so it's totally fresh. Sure, you can buy an espresso maker but a halfway decent one costs at least $200, new.

And sure, you could go to the 7-11 and buy a cup of ordinary coffee, but it's likely been sitting on a burner for hours and has turned into goo. That kind of stuff grosses me out. It's not worth any money to me.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 02:51:27 PM by Chesleygirl »

MgoSam

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #81 on: September 14, 2017, 02:51:14 PM »

Quote
Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

Consider the coffee shop as a business for a minute though.  How much would you charge to earn a reasonable profit? The drip coffee costs almost nothing in the way of ingredients - just water and two tablespoons of coffee (roughly 30 servings per pound, bought wholesale for ~$5 is about 25¢.
So if a customer only buys that drip coffee you're taking in $1.80.  It's a very high percentage but a very low absolute amount. Right off the bat there is LESS profit on that $2.05 "short drip" than a latte. Drop the price to, say, $1 and you're left with only two profitable choices - sell in volume or hope your customers also buy some food.  Sounds like strategies a lot of other places use, no?

Yeah, it takes a lot less time but you still have to pay your employees. It would be nice if you could serve more customers per employee this way, but unless you change your entire concept you're still keeping the same number on staff to make all the more complicated drinks. Youv'e still got the same expensive overhead and that customer may be just as likely to occupy an overstuffed chair blogging, preventing another customer from doing the same.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of ingredients are a minor portion of the purchase price.

Yes.  My "insane markup" doesn't mean pure profit, it means anything above what you'd pay at home (basically, coffee beans).  Labor, equipment, rent, and of course the profit.  To me, paying $2.05 for a cup of coffee that I could probably make at home for $.15 is an insane markup that I'm not usually willing to pay.

Do you have an espresso machine and a milk foamer?

I can't make Starbucks drinks at home because I don't have those things in my kitchen.

Heads up, you can make a perfectly great espresso with an Aeropress, they are around $25 on Amazon. I'm guessing a milk foamer wouldn't cost all that much more.

Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #82 on: September 14, 2017, 02:55:46 PM »

Quote
Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

Consider the coffee shop as a business for a minute though.  How much would you charge to earn a reasonable profit? The drip coffee costs almost nothing in the way of ingredients - just water and two tablespoons of coffee (roughly 30 servings per pound, bought wholesale for ~$5 is about 25¢.
So if a customer only buys that drip coffee you're taking in $1.80.  It's a very high percentage but a very low absolute amount. Right off the bat there is LESS profit on that $2.05 "short drip" than a latte. Drop the price to, say, $1 and you're left with only two profitable choices - sell in volume or hope your customers also buy some food.  Sounds like strategies a lot of other places use, no?

Yeah, it takes a lot less time but you still have to pay your employees. It would be nice if you could serve more customers per employee this way, but unless you change your entire concept you're still keeping the same number on staff to make all the more complicated drinks. Youv'e still got the same expensive overhead and that customer may be just as likely to occupy an overstuffed chair blogging, preventing another customer from doing the same.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of ingredients are a minor portion of the purchase price.

Yes.  My "insane markup" doesn't mean pure profit, it means anything above what you'd pay at home (basically, coffee beans).  Labor, equipment, rent, and of course the profit.  To me, paying $2.05 for a cup of coffee that I could probably make at home for $.15 is an insane markup that I'm not usually willing to pay.

Do you have an espresso machine and a milk foamer?

I can't make Starbucks drinks at home because I don't have those things in my kitchen.

Heads up, you can make a perfectly great espresso with an Aeropress, they are around $25 on Amazon. I'm guessing a milk foamer wouldn't cost all that much more.

I was just pointing this out for those who understand how drip coffee is different from espresso-based drinks.

But I will look at the Aeropress out of interest because I might buy one some day. But in the meantime, I don't feel like I'm wasting money to buy a $2.00 espresso, especially since I don't buy one every day. There are places in my area that charge $3.00 for an espresso and more money for other coffee drinks than starbucks' does.

jinga nation

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #83 on: September 15, 2017, 06:07:22 AM »

Quote
Starbucks sells drip coffee, although they don't want you to know it.  It literally isn't on the menu board any more at the Starbucks in my area.  But you can still buy it.  A "short" (8 oz) is $2.05 which is as insanely marked up as their $5 espresso drinks considering it has very little labor cost and no expensive espresso machine.

Consider the coffee shop as a business for a minute though.  How much would you charge to earn a reasonable profit? The drip coffee costs almost nothing in the way of ingredients - just water and two tablespoons of coffee (roughly 30 servings per pound, bought wholesale for ~$5 is about 25¢.
So if a customer only buys that drip coffee you're taking in $1.80.  It's a very high percentage but a very low absolute amount. Right off the bat there is LESS profit on that $2.05 "short drip" than a latte. Drop the price to, say, $1 and you're left with only two profitable choices - sell in volume or hope your customers also buy some food.  Sounds like strategies a lot of other places use, no?

Yeah, it takes a lot less time but you still have to pay your employees. It would be nice if you could serve more customers per employee this way, but unless you change your entire concept you're still keeping the same number on staff to make all the more complicated drinks. Youv'e still got the same expensive overhead and that customer may be just as likely to occupy an overstuffed chair blogging, preventing another customer from doing the same.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of ingredients are a minor portion of the purchase price.

Yes.  My "insane markup" doesn't mean pure profit, it means anything above what you'd pay at home (basically, coffee beans).  Labor, equipment, rent, and of course the profit.  To me, paying $2.05 for a cup of coffee that I could probably make at home for $.15 is an insane markup that I'm not usually willing to pay.

Do you have an espresso machine and a milk foamer?

I can't make Starbucks drinks at home because I don't have those things in my kitchen.

Heads up, you can make a perfectly great espresso with an Aeropress, they are around $25 on Amazon. I'm guessing a milk foamer wouldn't cost all that much more.

Here's two options:
Epica Automatic Electric Milk Frother and Heater Carafe http://a.co/bjmPdAI
PowerLix Milk Frother  http://a.co/4rlSqZ5

I don't like Starbucks lattes/cappuccino/macchiato/fufushito; if there's no choice to avoid, I get their Pike's Place drip coffee, but half the time it's burnt so I don't pay and have to pour it to ground.
There's a reason I prefer to grind my beans in weekly batches and make a fresh French Press daily.
You are what you drink.
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nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #84 on: September 15, 2017, 06:29:27 AM »
Quote
You are what you drink.

Huh?  What is that supposed to mean?
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GuitarStv

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #85 on: September 15, 2017, 08:17:10 AM »
Quote
You are what you drink.

Huh?  What is that supposed to mean?

That people who drink alcohol are poisonous.

nereo

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #86 on: September 15, 2017, 08:25:03 AM »
Quote
You are what you drink.

Huh?  What is that supposed to mean?

That people who drink alcohol are poisonous.
...but the conversation was about drip coffee and espresso.  I have not idea what this means.
"Do not confuse complexity with superiority"

MgoSam

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #87 on: September 15, 2017, 08:43:11 AM »
Quote
You are what you drink.

Huh?  What is that supposed to mean?

That people who drink alcohol are poisonous.
...but the conversation was about drip coffee and espresso.  I have not idea what this means.

The original poster isn't entirely wrong as the human body is over 50% water.

farfromfire

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #88 on: September 15, 2017, 09:15:59 AM »
Quote
You are what you drink.

Huh?  What is that supposed to mean?

That people who drink alcohol are poisonous.
...but the conversation was about drip coffee and espresso.  I have not idea what this means.

The original poster isn't entirely wrong as the human body is over 50% water.
Bit that doesn't mean you're coffee, unless..
Quote
Bleach is healthy. It's mostly water. And we are mostly water. Therefore, we are bleach.

MgoSam

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #89 on: September 15, 2017, 09:29:35 AM »
Quote
You are what you drink.

Huh?  What is that supposed to mean?

That people who drink alcohol are poisonous.
...but the conversation was about drip coffee and espresso.  I have not idea what this means.

The original poster isn't entirely wrong as the human body is over 50% water.
Bit that doesn't mean you're coffee, unless..
Quote
Bleach is healthy. It's mostly water. And we are mostly water. Therefore, we are bleach.

This thread reminds me of something I saw on Facebook

tralfamadorian

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #90 on: September 15, 2017, 11:45:37 AM »
Quote
Bleach is healthy. It's mostly water. And we are mostly water. Therefore, we are bleach.

hahaha

Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #91 on: September 15, 2017, 12:20:01 PM »
I don't like Starbucks lattes/cappuccino/macchiato/fufushito; if there's no choice to avoid, I get their Pike's Place drip coffee, but half the time it's burnt so I don't pay and have to pour it to ground.


They give you a refund if the coffee tastes bad?

RetiredAt63

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #92 on: September 15, 2017, 12:26:29 PM »
And sure, you could go to the 7-11 and buy a cup of ordinary coffee, but it's likely been sitting on a burner for hours and has turned into goo. That kind of stuff grosses me out. It's not worth any money to me.

I prefer drip to espresso, so I am fine making my coffee at home.  And just for the record, Tim Horton's makes fresh coffee every 20 minutes.  Of course mine is fresher, but theirs is not bad.  Can't speak for other stores, of course.
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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #93 on: September 15, 2017, 12:40:25 PM »
I don't like Starbucks lattes/cappuccino/macchiato/fufushito; if there's no choice to avoid, I get their Pike's Place drip coffee, but half the time it's burnt so I don't pay and have to pour it to ground.


They give you a refund if the coffee tastes bad?
Yes. Most customers are just scared/lazy to provide instant feedback.
Some Starbucks will ask me to wait while they brew a fresh batch after I tell them they served me the perfect yuck (not those words).
Some Starbucks don't even have drip coffee brewing until I ask.
If forced by co-workers to take a walk to the coffee shop, I make them walk to the farthest one: a Dunkin Donuts over half mile away, on our AF base. This Dunkin has never poured a bad one for me in the 5+ years I've worked here.
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Kyle Schuant

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #94 on: September 15, 2017, 10:55:57 PM »
That people who drink alcohol are poisonous.
So... in small doses I'm a relaxant, and in large doses I'm intoxicating? Great! :)
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Chesleygirl

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #95 on: September 15, 2017, 11:01:34 PM »
I don't like Starbucks lattes/cappuccino/macchiato/fufushito; if there's no choice to avoid, I get their Pike's Place drip coffee, but half the time it's burnt so I don't pay and have to pour it to ground.


They give you a refund if the coffee tastes bad?
Yes. Most customers are just scared/lazy to provide instant feedback.


I'll have to try that if I ever get bad coffee there.

remizidae

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #96 on: September 17, 2017, 11:40:55 PM »

Apples - there are eating apples and cooking apples - cooking apples tend to be sold by the bag and are a lot less expensive.  I am curious which apple variety was used. 

Since you asked about the apples, they were Gala. Cheapest I could find at that store (but I probably could have found a cheaper store!).

remizidae

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #97 on: September 17, 2017, 11:43:18 PM »
HI!  I put in here the Canadian best prices... I don't actually buy apples right now because they are not quite in season and very expensive, even at lower cost stores.   Dairy and eggs are expensive here, too compared to USA.

The basic comment that OP made is that you need to calculate the price of your favorite recipes per serving.   So true!  I did this for the 10 common recipes at our house, and it really helps to see where one ingredient is a huge cost to the overall dish, and helped me to understand how expensive produce really is most of the year. 

I think this is the same recipe (Plenty More).   

Esme Old Fashioned Pudding
--
This hot and sweet pudding, with its super-crusty almond topping, is normally cooked for hours in an Aga using windfall apples. Savour this romantic image even with my real-world adjustments. With thanks to Esme Robinson for remembering this from her childhood, and for letting me shake up the old school with the addition of rhubarb and sage. --

100g unsalted butter, softened  (Approx 1/3 cup butter $0.78; don't substitute as butter gives a ton of flavour to the topping)
160g dark muscovado sugar (WTF?  okay, just use brown sugar $0.25) 
100g ground almonds ($1.28 to $1.68 per 100 g  yes, canada sells in lb and kg! I have to do a lot of math here when I shop...)
1 egg ($0.27 each)
700g cooking apples, peeled, cored and roughly grated (550g)  @ $1.30 per lb, =$2.00
250g trimmed and sliced rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces  (Free?  or $2)
50g demerara sugar  (?why why with the special sugars?  $0.25)
40g fresh breadcrumbs (Free or from the stale bread sliced ends, $0.20 Buy day old bread and make your own, lasts a long time in your pantry)
10g sage leaves, roughly chopped  (Sage lasts forever, tiny amount here... maybe $0.15 for dried? I find fresh too powerful to use in just about anything... I grew it one year and developed a dislike for fresh)
250g Greek yoghurt (Make own for $1.25; buy for $3)

Serves 4-6
Price:Total: $4.45 CDN  to $9 CDN
Price per unit (assume 5 servings)  $0.90 to $1.80


So,  I would say that a combination of shopping choices and / or using the cost of the larger package, even though a smaller amount was used, may be the culprit. The restaurant dessert would NOT have a topping with 100% almonds instead of flour or oatmeal crumbs, plus greek yogurt plus a lot of fresh fruit, as they need to make money, too.    Also, funny, is that the intro describes using windfallen (scrub / free) apples is the traditional way to use this dish.

From the costs  breakout above, it is easy to see where the costs came from.

I recommend using white sugar in the fruit, brown in the topping, dried sage, and something other than greek yogurt for the creaminess (sour cream or creme fraiche is classic for fruit desserts).   Watch out for produce seasonal pricing, and substitute a different fruit or more apples, use a granny smith green apple instead for the rhubarb if local supply is pricey.   Find recipes that use EITHER expensive fruit OR Greek yogurt OR Almonds, etc.   Oh, and regift that cookbook to someone who likes to spend money and would love to see "different" recipes.

TLDR:  One expensive ingredient per dish is all that is needed to show off, and it will cut your cooking costs dramatically.  Get to know what the expensive ingredients are....

Cool! I think you get my point. Although I don't get free shit as often as you :)

remizidae

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #98 on: September 17, 2017, 11:52:21 PM »
Ok, your first mistake is not telling us how many servings were in the dessert and working out the cost per serving.

I did work out the cost per serving, if you've read my posts. But, it matters less to me. When I make a dessert, the goal is to create a dessert that will satisfy my craving. Because I'm a gym rat, I prefer not to eat desserts every day, so for me having leftovers is not a plus. So, I understand that other people might want to maximize the number of desserts they get, that is not true for me.

remizidae

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Re: When your homecooking costs more than a restaurant
« Reply #99 on: September 17, 2017, 11:55:34 PM »
I think of cooking as having three different tiers. Tier 1 is full-on Mustachian cooking--lots of cheap staples and in-season produce, inexpensive proteins judicially used, planning recipes and menus to use available ingredients, never wasting food, no convenience foods, making staples like yogurt from scratch, perhaps leveraging sales, coupons, outlet stores, etc. to buy as cheaply as possible.

Tier 2 is mid-range cooking. You probably use  a few of Tier 1 strategies, but you don't feel bound to follow all of them.

Tier 3 is cooking whatever you want whenever you want, shopping at very expensive stores, tossing leftovers, etc.

You can always save money by dropping down a tier, but the costs in terms of skill, time and family buy-in rise at the same time. And it's harder to drop from Tier 2 to Tier 1 than from Tier 3 to Tier 2. Personally, I am totally capable of cooking at Tier 1, and have (as a poor grad student), but frankly I don't want to any more. I like being able to whip up a batch of chocolate-chip cookies whenever I want. There may be a few people who are at Tier 2 because they don't know about Tier 1, but I think most people are making rational decisions based on their personal circumstances. (See that other thread about spouses who refuse to cooperate with various money-saving strategies on groceries.)

The original recipe cited in this thread could be either Tier 2 or Tier 3 depending on how often you cook like that, how many servings, and where the ingredients were obtained. So it could be either a rational treat, or it could be a symptom of grocery ridiculousness.

I love that description. And, hey, given a minimum level  of frugality, food is not a huge expense.