Typically, a store-bought, pre-prepared dish is more expensive than making it yourself. Sometimes, however, the reverse is true and it’s actually more expensive to make it yourself. That’s the lasagna dilemma.
Store-bought items usually have mark-ups on them, but we often justify the additional expense with the added convenience. Recently, Alexandria made lasagna from scratch, and we wondered how the store-bought version could be so much cheaper than the ingredients to make the same thing at home.
So, let’s break it down:
The DIY cost
First, let’s examine the cost of the homemade lasagna Alex prepared. The ingredient costs were as follows:
$10.00 – Ground Beef
$13.50 – Cheeses (Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Mozzarella, Parmesan)
$5.75 – Veggies (Tomatoes, Sauce, Herbs, Etc.)
$2.00 – Pasta
(Prices rounded, and are based on the actual costs at the discount grocery chain, FreshCo.)
Looking at ingredients alone, this is a $31.25 lasagna. Add in Alexandria’s time invested and you’re probably doubling that figure, but let’s stick to the ingredient costs for simplicity.
It makes 12 servings, and therefore costs about $2.60 per person. Under $3 a serving is pretty good, actually. Compare that with ordering it at a restaurant and you’ll find this to be totally reasonable.
But $31.25 is a lot compared to the cost of buying one from the freezer section at the grocery store, right?
Enter the store-bought lasagna
You can buy an equivalent amount of lasagna from a store’s freezer section for about $24.00. You’re probably thinking, “That makes no sense, why would I ever make it at home when I can get it pre-made at the store for less than the cost of the ingredients for the homemade version?”
I totally agree–why would you? Taste, of course. Homemade tastes better. Like, way better. But when you stop and think about it, there’s another really good reason why…
Think about what has to happen to bring that store-bought lasagna to your freezer. Your favourite lasagna brand has to buy the same basic ingredients to make the lasagna and have them shipped to a manufacturing facility. It has to pay for, and maintain said facility. At some point, paid staff (or machines) will prep the ingredients and assemble the lasagna. The company will buy and use disposable pans to ship them in. They’ll wrap the pan in printed cardboard, shrink wrap the whole shebang, freeze it, and then ship it; first to the distribution centre and then to the store. And finally, a paid stock person at the grocery store will put it in the grocery store freezer.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that the markup for the the store is 25% of the lasagna’s full selling price (which is somewhat corroborated by the fact that these lasagna’s frequently go on sale for around 15-20% off), and that the brand’s profit margin, labour, and overhead to prepare, assemble, and ship it is another 50%. We are left with about $6 with which to buy around 5 pounds of meat, cheese, sauce, and pasta. Sure, the manufacturer gets to buy these items in bulk, which will reduce the cost considerably. But, step back for a moment and think about it – don’t you wonder what sort of ingredients are going into this “food”?
In a nutshell
If the final price of a pre-packaged lasagna at the store is considerably less than the cost of buying the ingredients to make one at home, then there’s a good chance that whatever’s in it is not something you want to put in your body.