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Bang For Your Buck: Bisquick vs. Homemade Pancakes

02/28/2012 10:07 am 10:07:59 | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Pancakes are such a part of American culture -- among the likes of macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and hamburgers -- that many of us can't imagine weekend breakfast without a stack of them drowned in syrup. So in honor of National Pancake Day (a day that's celebrated by IHOP every year with free pancakes), which is February 28, we're comparing boxed pancake mix with the homemade kind to find out which is better, more cost effective, and quicker.

Many of us have succumbed to the allure of boxed mixes (using it for cooking rather than pranking celebrities), which offer the ease of just scooping out the amount needed and only require us to add a few wet ingredients. But are boxed mixes, such as Bisquick (which we've been using since the 1930s), really better than homemade? Are they worth it? Do we actually save time in using a boxed mix? What's actually in a box of Bisquick?

The Time Difference

According to the Bisquick directions, all you need to add is milk and eggs to the powdered mixture. If you choose the homemade route, you need to measure out flour and baking powder, then add milk and eggs. But is it that so much harder? We estimate it can't take any more than 2 minutes extra to measure out a homemade recipe.

The Difference In Ingredients

Biquick contains:

  • Enriched flour bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
  • Partially hydrogenated soybean oil and/or cottonseed oil
  • Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Dextrose
  • Salt

Homemade pancakes (minus the milk and eggs) contains:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt

Here's a breakdown of what's what in Bisquick:

Niacin: vitamin B3
Thiamine Mononitrate: synthetic form of vitamin B1
Riboflavin: vitamin B2
Folic Acid: vitamin B9
Sodium Aluminum Phosphate: a chemical additive that helps baking powder do its job (it's also added to baking powder)
Monocalcium Phosphate: an acidic chemical additive that helps baking powder react (it's also added in baking powder)
Dextrose: another name for glucose, a simple sugar and carbohydrate

Surprisingly, once they're broken down, the ingredients don't seem so foreign after all. However, Bisquick contains partially hydrogenated oils, which are high in trans fat -- per serving, Bisquick contains 1.5 grams of it. Trans fat raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol -- so it's not good for your heart's health, period.

Cost Effectiveness

A box of Bisquick costs around $3.59. And of course you'll have to factor in milk and eggs (a gallon of milk costs about $3.69 and a dozen eggs costs $2.69). You'll need 9 eggs ($2.02) and 4 1/2 cups of milk ($1.04) per Bisquick box, which brings the total to $6.65. That's $0.24 per serving for Bisquick.

A 5-pound bag of flour costs about $3.00 and a canister of baking powder about $2.29. Add to that the amount of eggs and milk you'll need, which is about 20 eggs ($4.49) and 20 cups of milk ($4.61). And don't forget the baking powder. A 10-ounce canister of baking powder has 60 teaspoons. To make the pancakes you will use 25 teaspoons of baking powder (calculated that 1 1/4 teaspoons is needed per 1 cup of flour), which costs $0.95. The total comes to $13.05, which is $0.22 per serving for homemade pancakes.

So in the end, you're saving $0.02 per serving if you make your pancakes from scratch. Do you think it's worth it?

* Calculations based on the fact that a 40-ounce box of Bisquick has about 9 cups of mix, which gives you about 28 servings (a serving is calculated per 1/3 cup of mix). If you make homemade pancakes using flour, you can make more than twice that amount (there are 20 cups in a 5-pound bag of flour), which can make 60 servings.

Which do you prefer: boxed pancakes or homemade? Leave us a comment below?

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