Baking isn’t Frugal (But it’s Fun)

In the spirit of giving, I’ve been making a list of people I can bake and bring some treats to this week. Being so new to Port Moody (and before that, New Westminster), I’ve been overwhelmed by how warm and inviting everyone I’ve met so far has been. Like the guys at my coworking space who offered to help me move in the summer. And others who have been helping me since my car accident. I’m a new face in town, and nobody has had to be nice to me… but they have been, and I want to thank them for that.

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I love to bake. Growing up, it seemed like my mom or aunt always had something in the oven. Chocolate chip banana bread was their specialty, but cookies were always my favourite. For those of you with a sweet tooth, you know there’s no treat more satisfying than a warm, soft cookie – and a glass of milk or tea to go with it! This Christmas, I decided to try two new cookie recipes: chai spiced sugar cookies and salted chocolate chip cookies. But before I could start baking, I had to go shopping.

Of course, here’s where the dollars and cents come into play. I knew shopping for ingredients was not going to be cheap, because I needed absolutely everything on the list. I’ve only been living back in BC since the spring, but have been travelling for work and weddings so much ever since, that I still haven’t done the “big grocery shop” where you buy all of your condiments, spices, etc. (Seriously, I had friends from Portland stay with me in November, and when they offered to make me dinner they were shocked I didn’t even have salt!)

Anyway, knowing how expensive everything was going to be, I decided to hit the evil big box store’s grocery aisles for this shopping trip. Here’s how it all added up:

  • All-purpose flour ($4.79)
  • Baking powder ($3.00)
  • Baking soda ($0.99)
  • Allspice ($5.97)
  • Cardamom ($9.67)
  • Ground ginger ($6.97)
  • Almond extract ($4.99)
  • Vanilla extract ($5.99)
  • Chocolate chips x 2 ($5.94)
  • Parchment paper ($2.69)

Grand total: $51 even. For two batches of cookies! LOL

I freaked out for a minute, then remembered that some of the ingredients would last for months – the extracts, powders and spices even longer. Another blow to this month’s budget? Yes. But today I get to spend the whole afternoon baking with a friend, and packaging the cookies up, so I can deliver sweet thank you’s this week.

Do you have any hobbies that aren’t frugal but are fun?

avatarAuthor Bio ~ Cait  (34 Posts)

Cait is a twenty-something personal finance blogger living just outside of Vancouver, B.C. At 25, she found herself completely maxed out with more than $28,000 of consumer and student debt. In less than two years, she paid it all off (and saved a little too!) by using some of Gail's techniques, as well as receiving continuous support from the personal finance blogging community. Cait is now saving for her future and is passionate about getting personal finance a bigger spot in B.C.'s Education IRPs. You can read more of her posts on her personal finance blog Blonde on a Budget.

23 Responses to “Baking isn’t Frugal (But it’s Fun)”

  1. My Goodness! I would suggest going to a bulk food store for your spices as you can buy a small amount at a time -less expensive and keeps longer. I baked lemon squares for one friend – really reasonable and cheese tea biscuits for another. Put in a reusable container and voila!

    • We don’t have Bulk Barn here, and the only store I could find that carried all 3 ingredients was a good 40-minute drive away. It just didn’t seem worth it, but I totally agree!

      • I know some grocery stores do have a bulk section with a few spices. Also sometimes health food/organic stores as well and most times in smaller quantities if you don’t use a lot of that spice. I have no idea what the cost difference would be or exactly where in the P.M. area. I cant remember what Thrifty foods has.

        • Yea, Thrifty’s doesn’t have much – and the same spice jars I bought at Walmart were much more at Thrifty’s! But I hadn’t thought of organic stores… good call! Next time :)

  2. Baking is a hobby of mine as well :) …you’re right though, it’s not cheap! I’ve been on a baking kick for the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve gone thru so much butter, sugar, chocolate chips, etc… it really adds up! I am baking cookies today too, they are going to be xmas gifts for my bosses and a few special co-workers…. there’s a lot of snow so it’s the perfect day for it, I don’t plan on leaving the house! Have a great Sunday.


  3. Holy Cow – those cookies are made out of gold! I think the cost of that list is a huge endorsement for having a good stock of staples on hand for times like these. Some things are harder to keep in the house (like chocolate chips… guilty), but flour etc, can be bought on sale. That takes a lot of forethought though, if you’re not a constant baker.

    I used to be a stress baker, but since I moved, my oven is WAY too hot – it’s a crap-shoot every time whether I will burn dinner, even if I put it down to 250 F, so baking is out of the question. That’s not a bad thing though.

    • Haha, definitely not a bad thing.

      Yea, the sticker shock was scary at first, but then I remembered that some of these are staples (extracts, spices, etc.). The next time I bake, I’ll need nothing more than an egg and some butter!

      (And I did buy the flour on sale!)

  4. My most expensive hobbies are my sports,

    Skiing is expensive even once you have the gear, with the cost of lift tickets and season passes. Also if you add up transportation costs and food and drink while there. My season pass was $800, but we will be travelling to a few different mountains for skiing with friends this winter. That will add a couple hundred to the cost this season.
    But I love it, I was going 2-3 times last year.

    Also gym memberships. I don’t have the awesome deal with Club 16, so my membership in the new year will be around $50 a month, plus tai chi, and karate memberships. I have refused to do drop in classes since they are around $11 dollars a class. Luckily drop in swimming in the morning is only $2, unfortunately they are now in the holiday hours and swimming is cancelled until the new year. I know most people don’t find going to the gym fun, but I do.

    • Oh gosh yea, skiing/snowboarding are NOT cheap at all. But it’s fun, exciting and a great workout.

      And you’re talking to the girl who just got back from the gym. If you go often, a membership is worth the money!

  5. Good quality baking is NOT cheap, but it’s so good compared to store bought.

  6. It’s expensive to start, but once you have everything, you just need to replenish. I buy at Costco or at the grocery stores when there are deals on, which ever works out the best in terms of cost.
    I have a following of folks who request my cookies. They make great
    gifts. Sometimes I add some specialty hot chocolate or coffee.
    How did the chai spiced sugar cookies turn out? They sound interesting. I’m always on the look out for new recipes.

  7. I also love doing holiday baking- but keep an eye out for coupons/sales on baking supplies.. Walmart earlier in the fall in their new magazine had coupons for A LOT of baking supplies… Waited until those babies went on sale and poof! Baking budget dropped a lot! The big shop for all those supplies are the worst, but you’re right it lasts forever and next Christmas during your holiday baking it won’t be so bad!

    • Dang! I definitely didn’t plan my baking beforehand… but, unfortunately, a few of those items were on sale, haha. The cardamom was the scariest one of all, but then I saw it at another store for $13 and felt slightly better. I’ve also been putting it in my morning coffee w/ a little bit of sugar… mmm mmm!

  8. I love to bake! I don’t think of it as an expensive hobby as I get everything on sale. It’s better than store bought and the compliments I get are good for the self esteem!

  9. When I saw the price of the cardamom I’m pretty sure I would have changed my mind and made different cookies!

    Baking is one of my favourite hobbies too. I have started baking more at my bf’s house so I use his flour, sugar, etc…haha. Of course, he generally gets to eat most of the treats too, so it’s fair!

    • I would normally agree, but I love cardamom. Some people hate it, but it’s been in my coffee every morning since!

      And I think that’s totally fair. ;)

  10. avatar Victoria R Says:
    December 17, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Butter can be a big cost. When it goes on sale I put four packages into the freezer for handy baking supplies.

  11. I noticed how expensive baking was a few weeks ago when my friend and I got together to make a few different Christmas treats. I don’t know if grocers mark up baking supplies during the Christmas season because they know many people will be needing (kneading? hahahaha) them, but I spent $40 on baking supplies and then J just ate ALL of the butter tart squares and shortbread we made, anyway.

  12. Cait,

    The Dollarama on North Road has lots of spices to choose from for a fraction of the cost. You can also buy parchment paper, sometimes chocolate chips, wax paper, tin foil – all those things. And Christmas themed treat bags – all for a dollar. I did all my holiday baking shopping there with exception of the butter and eggs! Worth taking a look in there – they have lots of stuff for baking at a fraction of the cost from the store.
    I watch for sales on butter at Safeway and Superstore. When they have 2 for $5 – I by four and freeze them. I didn’t have to buy butter at Christmas time as I had bought it earlier.

Leave a Reply