Thoughts

Frugal Finds: Cake Mix

My first attempt at making a homemade chocolate cake was for James’ birthday when we were newly married. I used the Hershey’s “Perfect Chocolate” Cake recipe for the cake, made a chocolate buttercream frosting, and decorated the cake with crushed Oreo cookies.

My first attempt at a homemade chocolate cake. It was prepared years ago for James’ birthday. (I had to crop out all of the pizza and potato chips surrounding it!)

I still like to use this recipe from Hershey for homemade cakes, and I have a variety of other recipes that I use regularly. I enjoy the process of baking, and the result is always delicious. But, what if you don’t want to make a homemade cake?

Don’t count out the boxed cake mixes. My sister-in-law makes beautifully decorated cakes for most of our family events (birthdays, baby showers, etc.) that are really tasty. Ironically, almost every time I compliment her on the cake, she mentions that she used a cake mix. Perhaps there is a reason that so many varieties exist on grocery store shelves.

Another consideration for you may be the cost. I was curious myself, so I crunched the numbers on my Hershey’s cake recipe, along with four cake mixes sold at Walmart in the United States. The results below may or may not surprise you.

Hershey Cake Recipe:

Costs are based on what I personally paid for ingredients. Your actual costs may vary.

Without considering the cost of frosting, the homemade Hershey cake costs about $3.76. Depending on the ingredients that you use, this is substantially more than most boxed cake mixes. I use real vanilla extract, which substantially drives up the price of the cake. If you use imitation vanilla extract, or buy the extract in a larger quantity, you may see a significant decrease in the cost of this cake.

Boxed Cake Mixes:

I priced out the cost of four typical boxed cake mixes available at Walmart in the United States. Most cake mixes require additional ingredients such as oil and eggs. Here are the results:

Costs are based on what I personally paid for ingredients. Your actual costs may vary.
Costs are based on what I personally paid for ingredients. Your actual costs may vary.
Costs are based on what I personally paid for ingredients. Your actual costs may vary.
Costs are based on what I personally paid for ingredients. Your actual costs may vary.

Thoughts:

Based on this analysis, the boxed cake mixes are approximately half the price of the homemade Hershey’s cake recipe. Personally, I prefer the taste of the homemade cake, but the boxed cake mixes are pretty good.

So, if time and money come at a premium for you, perhaps you should consider a boxed cake mix for your next celebration.

What are your thoughts on homemade vs. boxed cake mix?

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