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The Cost of Pasta - Is Pasta Machine Viable ?

Is it worth it to make pasta at home ? If you have some time to loose, it is often worthy to do it yourself. In this article, I compare the cost for making pasta versus buying it.


Introduction

These days, I was lacking of time to prepare food like pizza, tart, gratin, … An alternative to get a balanced meal is to buy ravioli, prepare a sauce, which takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

I tried to make my ravioli, but it was not that easy. The dough is very strong, so it is very hard to roll out it. So I decided to buy a pasta machine, which greatly helps to roll out very quickly the dough.

This article is not about the cost of ravioli, which depends a lot of what you put in, but about regular pasta, like linguine, spaghetti and lasagna. I compare a few options (with/without eggs, organic or not) and compute how profitable is the machine.

My pasta machine

Table of Content

Supplies

Let start with the prices:

These prices are likely to change because of ecology, geopolitics, and market speculation. So make the calculation based on your own situation.

Ingredients

There are some basic ingredients to make pasta: flour, eggs, water, and salt.

Here, we consider that water and salt are free, because their cost is very negligible.

Ingredient Regular Organic
Flour 0€60 2€
Egg 0€25 0€40

On-the-Shelf Pasta

I will not detail the cost of lasagna vs linguinge vs spaghetti, because the differences are likely to be related to marketing and specific demand. For getting the price, I took the average lowest price of my local stores. The prices are for 1kg.

Product Regular Organic
White pasta (without eggs) 1€8 2€
Pasta (with eggs) 5€ 6€

So Organic > Regular and with eggs > without eggs which is not surprising.

The Cost of Making your Pasta

Or more precisely, the cost of the raw ingredients.

Recipe

The basic recipe is:

Assuming a medium egg of 50g:

To obtain 1.050 kg of pasta, you need to multiply this by \(7\).

NB: The on-the-shelf product are dry, while the home-made are not. It would be more reasonable to compare our pasta to our italian reseller, however, price are so expensive there (10-15€/kg) that the comparison is of no interest. We could adjust the amount by comparing calories, measuring the amount of water in an egg, but here, we just want to approximate. In any case, the recipe need to be multiply by a number between \(7\) and \(10\).

Cost

\[\text{Cost} = 0.7 \times \text{PriceOfFlour} + 7 \times \text{PriceOfEff}\]

I would list the different prices for four different combinations:

If I replace my eggs by water:

To summarize:

Product Regular Organic
White pasta (without eggs) 0€42 1€40
Pasta (with eggs) 2€17 4€20

Good news: When making pasta at home, it costs less (if you do not pay any salary for yourself)

Gain and Payback Time

Which configuration helps you to save money ? Or which commercial product is overpriced ?

We just need to compute the difference between the on-the-shelf product and the home-made pasta.

We get this table:

Product Regular Organic
White pasta (without eggs) 1€38 2€83
Pasta (with eggs) 0€60 1€80

You can see that the largest margin is made on the regular product and on the pasta with eggs. The margin of organic products is lower than for regular one. Otherwise, organic would be unaffordable for many people (it already is, anyway).

Payback Time

I paid my machine 50€. Some models are available for 20€, but because they are of lower quality, you have to bet on their durability.

The question is “how many kg of pasta do I need to make to be profitable ?”. For lasagna, it is still possible to not buy the machine, and to make directly a net gain. However, for linguine, it would be very time consumming to cut the dough with a knife.

It is very easy to compute the number of kg of pasta you need to make (or cycles) before your machine is worth it.

\[\text{Cycle} = \frac{\text{Machine Price}}{\text{Recipe Gain}}\]
Product Regular Organic
White pasta (without eggs) 36 18
Pasta (with eggs) 83 28

The payback time is inversely proportional to the gain, so no surprise here.

So, that’s not very quick. it depends on your consumption. Over one year, it might be fine.

If you compare to an italian supplier, selling fresh pasta, the cost is much higher, around 10€/kg. In that case, 50 / (10 - 2) = 6.25 (2€/kg to consider the different options together.). This is much faster.

Conclusion

Making pasta at home is profitable if you eat pasta frequently, and if you have to time to prepare. Honestly, this takes as much time as the time for the water to boil, so there is no excuse.

One thing that I did not consider are colored pasta. You can find green, pink, black pasta, dyed with spinach, beetroots, or squid ink. In these cases, the product are often marketing product for special events and much more expensive than what they actually cost.



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