Recipe costing: waste or no waste?
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Recipe costing: waste or no waste?

Waste in recipe costing can be quite confusing. I will try to clarify here how and why waste should be included in recipe costing calculations and how it is taken into account in Shop’NCook Pro software.

A simple waste example

Quantities in recipes often refer to a pared product. For example, when you have a recipe requiring 1 cup of chopped onions, it refers to pared onions, different from the onions as purchased. One cup of onions weighs 160g (5.7oz), but since onions include in average 10% of refuse (stem ends, sprouts and defects), you have to purchase actually not 160g but 178g (6.4oz) of onions to make one cup of chopped onions. If you don’t include the waste in your recipe costing calculation, you will end up underestimating the cost of the recipe.

This is a straight-forward case where waste should always be included. Now, Shop’NCook Pro includes already in its database basic refuse precentage. To include the waste in the recipe costing, all you have to do is make sure that the waste correction is enabled in the cost preferences (the checkbox “Correct weight for refuse” in the Costing tab of the Preferences must be selected).

How do I know if the cost is corrected for waste?

When calculating the cost of a recipe with waste correction enabled, you have an additional column in the costing window for the corrected weight. It is a good practice to always check where waste corrections are made and if they correspond to the actual difference between the product as purchased and the product used in the recipe. If they don’t, read below!

A less simple waste example

Waste is not always straight-forward! In fact, waste can be included in some recipes and not in others. Depending on what you are making, you may purchase a product that includes the waste, or the same product without it. Let take for example walnuts. I would bet that your supermarket carries both shelled walnuts and walnuts with the shell. If you examine the walnuts item of the default database, you see that it includes 55% of refuse for the shells. It refers therefore to unshelled walnuts. When a recipe specifies walnuts, the weight is then corrected for waste and more than doubled in the recipe costing calculation.

What should you do if you purchase already shelled walnuts? You can edit the nutritional information of the walnuts item of the database, clear the refuse description and set the refuse percent to zero. Also, make sure to change the item description to “shelled walnuts”. In this way, walnuts weight will not be corrected for waste anymore in the recipe costing.

But I purchase both shelled and unshelled walnuts!

If you purchase both shelled and unshelled walnuts, depending on the recipe, you have to proceed in a different way. Obviously, since these are two different products with different prices, you need to have two entries in the database of grocery items. Since the existing walnuts item refers to the unshelled one, you have to add a “shelled walnuts” item to the database, with a refuse percent of zero. When you want to purchase the shelled walnuts for a recipe, you have to make sure that the “walnuts” ingredient of the recipe links to the “shelled walnuts” item of the database. It will be linked automatically to the correct item if you write “shelled walnuts” instead of just “walnuts” in the recipe. In this way, the correct refuse percentage is used in both cases.

What should I do if the weights in my recipes include the refuse?

Let’s take again the case of (unshelled) walnuts. Walnuts includes 55% of refuse in the database. What should you do if your recipes lists the quantity of walnuts with the shells? Since the software assumes the quantities in the recipes exclude the refuse, it will overestimate the quantity of walnuts you need and this will be reflected in the cost out and in the nutritional analysis of your recipes. You cannot simply set the refuse to zero: if you do, the nutritional data for walnuts will be about two times to high. Also, predefined measures like 1 cup of walnuts will not be correct anymore.

If you don’t want to correct as well the nutritional and weight conversion data for walnuts, you can instead create new units in the nutritional data editor for walnuts, like “cup with shell” and “oz with shell”. The weight of “cup with shell” should be 45% (i.e. 100%-55%) of the actual weight of 1 cup of walnuts with shells, i.e. corresponds to the weight of 1 cup of unshelled walnuts minus the refuse. Similarly, the weight of “oz with shell” should be 45% of 1 oz. To get the correct costing, you just have to specify the quantities using the newly defined units. The advantage of this approach is that you will be able to use both quantities with and without refuses.

Now, if you are not already too confused…

What should I do if the item is listed without waste in the database, but I purchase it with waste?

In this case, edit the refuse information of the item and set it to the waste percentage of the product you purchase. The nutritional analysis will not be affected, but the recipe cost out will be corrected for the waste.

Example: The “clams” item in the database is for clams without shells and has a refuse percentage of zero. If you purchase clams with shell, edit the item to set the refuse percent to 85%. Assuming your recipes list quantities without shell, the cost and the nutritional information will be correctly calculated. You can also add new units to the item to be able to specify quantities with shell in your recipes too, like the predefined “lb, with shell”. The weight of the units with waste should be set to the corresponding weight without waste.

In summary…

  • Waste must be included only if the quantity in the recipe does not include the waste that is a part of the product as-purchased.
  • For products that can include waste, check that the database item corresponds to the product you purchase. If it doesn’t, modify the refuse data to correspond to the product you purchase.
  • The quantities (weight or volume) in the recipes should be the quantities after the refuse has been removed. If you want to specify a quantity before removing the waste, define a new unit for the product that includes explicitly the waste. Alternatively, edit the nutritional and unit data for the product so that they correspond to the product measured before the waste is removed.


  1. Jerry Hayes says:

    Understand, As Purchase opposed to Edible Portions of ingredients part, but need a more simplified version of how to set up program if possible.

  2. Asheley StClair III says:

    I am writing to see if you can resend my shop n cook pro 4 to my email. I recently purchased a new computer, and was unable to save the application.

    thank you in advance,

  3. […] See here for more information (than you ever want to know) on waste in costing and nutritional analysis calculations. […]

  4. Daniel Warren says:

    This may be a silly question, but I can’t seem to figure out change the refuse percentage anywhere.

    Could you please advise? Where do I look and what are the steps?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Mathilde says:

      You can change the refuse percentage in the nutrition information editor. You can reach the editor for example by displaying the Nutrition tab of a recipe that contains this ingredient and click on the magnifying glass next to it. This will open the nutritional information window of the ingredient. Click then on the Edit button of this window to reach the editor.