Goal-seeking a cheaper nut butter.
A recent trip to Grocery Outlet led to me finding a 227g jar of Artisana walnut cashew butter for $7, with a list price of $15. Unsurprisingly Artisana know their craft, and it was delicious, but I knew I didn't want to pay $15 for it so I made my own.
I know, based on the ingredients, that Artisana use more walnuts than cashews, and technically mine is cashew-walnut butter, but that's neither here nor there, or it's exactly there, but I'm here, and either way it tasted good on toast.
- Blend 260g of cashews with 100g of walnuts until spreadable: 9-20m.
I've read coconut fat can be added to aid the formation, but it wasn't listed in the ingredients, so I skipped it.
I know what you're thinking: 260 + 100 > 227, but here's the thing: you have to account for shrinkage. Dog and I had to QC the spread along the way, ultimately QCing it on a piece of toast. It transpired that we had almost exactly 100g of shrinkage.
Not having the costs of the walnuts and cashews I had on hand, I went on Amazon to find the cheapest cost per gram of raw, organic nuts:
This surprised me: it was actually cheaper to buy the spread in Grocery Outlet than to make it at home in a blender, and by a couple of dollars. GO doesn't is a very zen shopping experience, allowing the price-conscious buyer to embrace what's available now and enjoy the change, so one can't always rely on them, but it's an interesting lesson in nut-based economics.
Playing with numbers so I have slightly more walnuts than cashews (190g to 170g), a recipe more in line with Artisana's based on ingredients list order on the label, brings the price up to $10.43.
If one switches from organic to non-organic (inorganic?) nuts, the price is cut by about 50% or more, but as Artisana used organic, I stuck with that for my modelling.
Tuning the model to match the original quantity
What if we drop the quantity to assume the QC team takes the day off during the production run, to 120g of walnuts and 107g of cashews? We are just below GO price, and $6.58.
Obviously we need to factor in costs for time, electricity, and amortisation of the blender, but that's too much effort to model for a project of this scale.
(With this production run, the time was donated, the blender a gift, and the electricity came from solar panels.)
Nut butters are a luxury item, and the more exotic, the more luxurious. One can save when making them yourself, but one probably can't compete with the bulk-buying of Artisana, combined with the business model of an operation like Grocery Outlet, and should take advantage of these bounties.
TL;DR? Always know your ingredients price per gram when shopping.