One thing that I often read on the blogs that I enjoy is that it is cheaper to cook from scratch. Being of a scientific and mathematical bent I decided to conduct an experiment to find out if this is actually true. I promise I won't befuddle you with calculations!
I decided to bake a Victoria Sponge from scratch and compare the results with the shop bought variety. To be fair I used the cheapest ingredients I could find and bought the value brand sponge, (for research purposes you understand!).
I was a bit dubious about using the "spreadable" butter-like spread. I usually use value butter but the spread claimed to be suitable for baking and it was considerably cheaper, so in the basket it went. I couldn't bring myself to buy caged hens' eggs, but you can get free range eggs fairly cheaply these days.
I use the weighing eggs method as I have a rather nice pair of kitchen balances. I am not going to write out the recipe here. (The words "suck eggs" comes to mind!) It is available here, although this recipe promotes rather more expensive ingredients.
While the oven was heating up and the cake was baking I measured the electricity I used with an energy monitor. I sat there with a stopwatch and the monitor watching the little light on the oven go on and off. I really need to get out more...
In case it isn't obvious, the one on the left is mine! I then weighed both cakes and settled down to some serious work with the calculator. I was very pleased to find out that my cake cost 18.3p per 100g and the shop bought cake was 24.6p per 100g!
But what of the taste? I found some very willing volunteers, blindfolded them and gave them small slithers of each cake. Fortunately for my self esteem they both preferred my cake. In fact, the shop bought cake is now trifle! I was also happy to find that the butter-substitute gave as good a taste as the real thing, so there will be a tub in the fridge from now on.
Of course there are a lot of other reasons to cook from scratch apart from cost. Knowing what's in your food and environmental factors spring to mind. I am now wondering what else I can compare...