I just got home from helping a friend with her party. She came to me a few weeks ago and asked if I would do a menu for her and, of course, cook the food.
“What would you like to have?” I asked.
“Oh, small bites would be nice. Anything. I trust you.”
Uh oh, when giving me car blanche with a menu my mind will go at lightning speed to think about what I can create, and use those I’m cooking for as guinea pigs. She set her budget and off I went to go through my recipes.
Now here is a confession; I don’t usually have a food budget. I am a food estimator. Always have been when it comes to how much my recipes cost because I only cook for my friends, family, the shelter, and parties. So I needed help to figure out what these dishes would cost. I did my research and I am so happy with what I found. Now these are only my opinion and I am not getting paid to endorse products. I’m just writing about what I found that works for me.
My new favorite app for my iPhone is the Grocery Gadget Shopping List (I think it is $1.99). In this app you can select your store, prepare your list, scan your item, put in the price and figure out how much you spent on each item.
I had a big list of ingredients I wanted to figure out, so I went to one of my favorite stores and just started scanning my products. If it didn’t scan, it was easy enough to type the item in the app. You put the price in and the weight and click save and off you go to your next item.
So now that I have all the prices, I had to figure out how much of, say, flour I use in my chocolate chip minis. How do I keep a running tab on what costs what? I found a free Recipe Calculator by guest poster Richelle at The Carolina Clipper on Money Saving Mom. It’s an Excel program that has you input your ingredient, package size, cost, servings per container, the total, and then cost per unit.
I put in all the prices on flour, butter, chocolate chips, cinnamon, etc. I plugged all the information into the Excel program and now I know it costs $7.21 to make 4 dozen chocolate chip minis. Nice!
Sure, nothing is perfect and these two programs do have some negatives, but not nearly as much as some of the other programs I researched. I am very happy with what I have and now I am plugging in all my ingredients so that I can figure out how much everything costs. It’s a lot of work in the beginning because I have so many recipes, but once I get them all in and up-to-date I can keep the program maintained when I have new creations to input.
But, for now, I am settling back this evening and relaxing knowing that my friend’s party was a hit and it came in at budget.