How to estimate your recipe cost
Shop’NCook Pro 3.4 lets you estimate the cost of your recipes in a mostly automatic way, but you may need to some adjustments to get an accurate costing. I will show you how in this post.
Update Jan. 2013: Watch the new tutorial video “How to cost a recipe” and download the companion tutorial.
Update Nov. 12, 2012: See also the new post on how to cost out your recipes in 5 easy steps in Shop’NCook Pro 4.0 software.
Adding cost data
To cost out recipes, you have to make sure first to input cost data for the ingredients in the database. The first time you start Shop’NCook Pro, you have the possibility to import a cost database. If you skipped this step, don’t panic! You can still import it by selecting “Import cost data” in the Costing menu of the Shopping List manager tab. The cost database is there to help you get a quick start with the costing functions. For accurate costing, you will have to input your own cost data from your suppliers. Staple prices greatly vary depending on the region and the season!
Inputting your own cost data
To add your own data, click on the Edit button of the Shopping List manager tab. This will open the database editor. Select “Extended list” in the Tools menu to display all the 2000 items of the database. The cost data is input in the three columns on the right: quantity, cost unit and cost.
For example: quantity: 1, cost unit: quart, cost: 2.59, i.e. the cost of one quart of the ingredient.
Tip: you are not limited to the choice displayed in the pull down menu of the cost unit, but can type any unit of your choice in the field.
Automatic cost estimate
Once the software knows the cost data, it is able to compute automatically the cost of your recipes. Here is how the costing window may look initially:
There are however a few things to know to understand the costing window and get an accurate costing:
- The ingredients of a recipe must be linked to the database of grocery items in order to be costed. When automatic linking has failed, they are displayed in red in the costing window.
- Shop’NCook Pro must know the quantity of the ingredient and be able to convert from the recipe quantity to the cost quantity. For example, if your recipe calls for one cup of the ingredient, but the ingredient cost has been input for one pound, the software must know the unit conversion factor between volume and weight for this ingredient. Shop’NCook Pro already knows thousands of conversion factors and will be able to make the conversion automatically most of the time. When conversion fails, the ingredient is displayed in blue in the costing window. It is also displayed in blue when the quantity is not specified at all.
- When the cost data has not been input for an ingredient, it is displayed in green in the costing window.
Getting an accurate costing
In the example above, four ingredients are displayed in color. Here is what you have to do to get an accurate cost estimate:
Ingredients in RED
“Italian sausage” is in red because it is not in the database of grocery items. You have to add it to the database by editing it.
Ingredients in BLUE
The ingredient “fresh oregano” is in blue, because the software does not know how to convert volume (1 tsp) to weight (i.e. 1 oz that was used to define the cost for fresh oregano) for this ingredient. You have to add unit conversion information in the nutrition editor for “fresh oregano”. You reach the editor by clicking on the question mark next to the ingredient in the Shopping List manager and then click on Edit.
Click then on Add to add a new unit conversion factor.
After inputting the unit conversion data, it looks as follows in the nutrition editor:
Note that you only have to input the unit conversion information for one volume unit (ex: tbsp). The conversion for other volume units (ex: tsp) is automatically deduced.
Ingredients in GREEN
The ingredients “Extra virgin olive oil” and “bell pepper” are green because the cost data has not been input for these two ingredients. You just need to edit the database and add the information to enable their costing.
After these modifications, the recipe cost is accurately calculated by Shop’NCook Pro.