Awesomeness. Jennifer Reese at Slate is thinking differently about the money she forks over at the grocery store. She's handy in the kitchen, so she took six staples she usually buys at Safeway or a local bakery and made them at home, to see if it's cheaper to make them or to buy them. And her methods were pretty exacting:
Except where noted, I chose the most affordable products and ingredients available (i.e., the 10-pound sack of generic sugar instead of a tiny pouch of organic cane sugar from Whole Foods) and priced everything down to the last grain of salt. Based on an estimate from my utility company, it costs around 32 cents per hour to run an electric oven. To melt butter slowly over a gas burner: 9 cents per hour. To boil water, more like 14 cents per hour. I take it as a given that everyone knows better than to quit their job -- any job -- to take up cracker-baking, so I attached no value to time. I happen to love messing around in the kitchen.
I'll tempt you with just one spoiler: Bagels. "Cheaper than store-bought? Dramatically... Better than store-bought? These are by far the best bagels I've ever eaten." Click through to read her conclusions on jam, yogurt, cream cheese, crackers, and granola.