Wednesday, April 1

Can cookie & brownie mixes be frugal?

I don't do a lot of cooking or baking.

Part of me knows that I should. It would save money on premade snacks. But we don't have a mixer and my arms tend to get tired easily. And I just don't really like cooking or baking all that much. Which is actually the real driving factor.

But, in an effort to save a bit on junk food, I have been trying to stick more to things I can make at home. This is where mixes come in. They're fast, they're easy and... Well, actually, that's pretty much the whole selling point.

Part of me hopes I can work my way up to cooking from scratch. The other part of me is based in reality. Either way, at least this seems to be cheaper than buying cookies in the grocery store. The stores have a pretty decent number of sales on these things.

You can get Betty Crocker cake mixes on sale for about a dollar. The icing sometimes goes on sale, and it's always sold pretty cheaply at Grocery Outlet. With a recent sale, I tried some of BC's brownie mix. Very tasty. And for a dollar, who can argue? (Although, the price goes up a tad if, like me, you like to add chocolate chips to the mixes. Mom has also had success adding pudding mix to the cake for extra moistness.)

Tim and I also quite like Betty Crocker's cornbread mix, though for a 9" by 9" pan, I find two packets work best. Considering you can get them on sale for 50 cents, it's really quite a fabulous deal!

This week, Safeway is having a sale where you save $5 if you buy 10 sale products. Tim and I loaded up on BBQ sauce, since we had finally run out from last time. (His chili recipe calls for it.) So we bought 8 BBQ sauces for an end price of 70 cents each, and 2 Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie dough mixes, end price $1.50.

Is this cheaper than homemade? If you stock up on sales, probably not. Flour comes in pretty good-sized packages. Sugar goes on sale quite often. Eggs can be gotten for about $1/dozen if you watch sales closely. Vanilla is pricey but goes a long way.... You get the idea.

Still, I'd say the price difference is within 50 cents to a dollar of homemade. So, as usual, my frugality may not quite reach the ideal, but it still gets pretty close. And a heck of a lot better than the alternatives: ready-made cookie dough for $3-4, brownies for $3-4, (decorated) cakes for around $7.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make up some chocolate chip cookie dough. Heck, I might even bake some of it!


Random thought: Has anyone ever tried to make their own chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream? It seems like it would be messy and/or difficult. Still, let me know!

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Blogger Alane said...

I hate cooking. I like to bake cookies but I will buy pouches beause they save time and when I get them on sale and throw a coupon that doubles at them I get those BC pouches for 70 cents. I don't think I can make home made that cheap. I will say box brownie mix is always cheaper then scratch the cost of baking chocolate is nuts and the work involved in making them to me is not worth it. I never make cakes from scratch either. Icing I will make from scratch though it is pretty easy.
One pound of confectioners sugar, one stick of softened butter, 2 Tbls. of milk and a tsp. of vanilla.
Good for you trying to make from scratch some of those cookie doughs can be rolled into logs and frozen so when you are up to it make extra to cover those days when you aren't.

April 1, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Blogger C said...

I bet you could make CC cookie dough ice cream pretty easily...although, are you talking about making the actual ice cream from scratch? I was thinking that all you would have to do is drop the cookie dough in very small balls on a cookie sheet, then pop the whole thing in the freezer. Once they're frozen, probably within an hour if they're small enough, just mix it into your vanilla ice cream. Just like they do at Cold Stone Creamery, or Maggie Moos. Makes me want some right now!!

April 1, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Blogger Donna said...

If it's cheaper than buying already baked cookies, then it's frugal.

April 1, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Glad to know I'm not the only female born without the cooking gene.


I think you have a good point. I may have to work my way up to that. Tim's favorite is cookie dough ice cream.


Well, you're the expert so I guess I can claim it now.

April 1, 2009 at 5:42 PM

Blogger Cindy B. of Montana said...

I think you're right to ? whether homemade/pre-made/pre-mixed is the most frugal. I think it depends on the item and what sales are available, so it could change from time to time. As for Cookie Dough Ice is awesome! BTW, I love your blog and am so glad I subscribed. You bring up some good points that get me thinking about some of the choices we make, thanks!

April 1, 2009 at 7:22 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Thanks Cindy! It's always nice to have my ego pumped up!

April 1, 2009 at 9:27 PM

Blogger Miss M said...

At those prices the mixes are probably a good deal, I bake from scratch a lot and the ingredients are not cheap. One thing I do since 2 people eating a batch of cookies or brownies before they go bad is probably not healthy - freeze for later. As soon as the cookies are cool I throw them in a bag in the freezer. They'll last longer and keep my waistline in check. I enjoy baking so if you ever have any questions...

April 2, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Miss M,

I like the idea of freezing some of them. In fact, my mom used to make this cookie-slab with mini M&Ms, then freeze it. You could only eat a little at a time, since it was more gnawing on than actual eating. But man was it good... Damn, now I have to get that recipe from her.

But yes, you're right: freezing them would save our waistlines, which are in peril right now. Thanks for the tip! And I'll definitely come to you with any questions that arise...

April 2, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Blogger paranoidasteroid said...

On sale, I think it's a pretty good deal. If you were able to stock up on flour and spices on sale you might save a little, but I don't think it makes much sense to keep a lot of that stuff if you don't think you're going to bake with it.

Basically, I agree with whoever said that if it's cheaper than buying pre-made, you're still coming out ahead!

April 3, 2009 at 10:23 AM


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