Cost, Calories, & Nutrition in Crunch! Alice Crackers versus Commercial Crackers

Bottom line:

  • home-made crackers cost about 8 cents per serving, store-bought 50 cents to a dollar per serving.
  • home-made crackers are far healthier – fewer calories, more fiber, more protein, more vitamins, more minerals and less (trans) fat, sugar, and sodium than commercial or artisan crackers

Detailed Analysis: Cost of home made crackers vs commercial

Whole wheat flour ranges from fifty cents to a dollar a pound, so the cost of this recipe for 3.5 ounces of homemade chips would be 33 cents (25 cents with non-organic wheat flour and cheaper seeds from Indian, Korean, Asian, Mexican and other ethnic stores).

  • 11.7 cents = half a cup of organic whole wheat flour (2.5 ounces) at $0.75/lb. Non-organic whole wheat flour is $0.50/lb or less
  • 6.3 cents = 1 Tablespoon of Whole Grain Mix (1/2 ounce) at $2.00/lb
  • 9.4 cents = 1 Tablespoon of Super Seed Mix (1/2 ounce) at $3.00/lb.  Sesame and flax seeds are less than $2.00/lb in ethnic markets.
  • 5.2 cents = energy to bake (average of 3.3 cents gas & 7 cents electric per half hour)

Based on cracker prices at grocery stores and chichi artisan markets in October 2012, you may be paying up to 15 times more for store-bought crackers, and up to 30 times more for gourmet artisan crackers, nearly all of them made from white flour, NOT whole wheat.

The seeds, whole grains, and greater amount of whole wheat flour per serving than whole wheat commercial brands (because there’s seeds instead of oil ) adds more vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and protein than any cracker you can buy at a store.

Nutrition Facts: Alice Crackers 8 cents per serving

Here’s what the Nutrition Facts label would look like the recipe above (and ¼ tsp salt).

  • Serving size 1 oz (28 g)
  • Amount per serving
  • Calories 105   Calories from Fat 13 (12%)  Calories from Sugar 0
  • Total Fat 1.5 g, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • Cholesterol 0 mg, 0% DV
  • Sodium  148 mg,  6% DV
  • Total Carbohydrate 20 g, 6% DV
  • Dietary Fiber 4g, 16% DV
  • Sugars 0 g
  • Protein 5.6 g,   11% DV
  • 3% riboflavin, 9% Niacin, 5% vitamin B6, 10% phosphorus, 6% zinc, 7% copper, 50% manganese, 28% selenium

Commercial Cracker Comparison

The healthiest cracker I could find at the supermarket was Wheat Thins 100% Whole Grain Baked Snack Crackers. I reduced the amounts on the package label by about 10% to match their 31g servings match the standard 28 g serving size. Wheat Thins have almost 20% more calories per serving than my recipes, three times as much fat (32% of the calories), lots of sugar (9% of the calories), 5% less fiber, and 7.4% less protein.

Nutrition Facts: Wheat Thins 50 cents per serving

  • Serving size 1 oz (28 g)
  • Amount per serving
  • Calories 126   Calories from Fat 41 (32%From sugar: 9%
  • Total Fat 4.5 g, 7.2% Daily Value (DV)
  • Cholesterol 0 mg, 0% DV
  • Sodium  217 mg,  9% DV
  • Total Carbohydrate 20 g, 6% DV
  • Dietary Fiber 2.7 g, 11% DV
  • Sugars 2.7 g = 11.5 calories
  • Protein 1.8 g,  3.6% DV
  • Ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Cornstarch, Malt Syrup, Salt, Invert sugar, Leavening, vegetable color.   

Carr’s Whole wheat crackers were even worse.  By making their serving size 40% less (17 g) than the standard amount (28 g), at first glance you might think they were the best,  with only 80 calories.  Below is what their label ought to look like with the standard 28 g serving size.  They’re even less healthy than Wheat Thins, with more fat and sugar, less fiber.

Nutrition Facts: Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers 

  • Serving size 1 oz (28 g)
  • Amount per serving
  • Calories 112   Calories from Fat 42 (38%)  From sugar: 15%
  • Total Fat 5.6 g, 8.6% Daily Value (DV)
  • Cholesterol 0 mg, 0% DV
  • Sodium  140 mg5.8% DV
  • Total Carbohydrate 14 g, 4.6% DV
  • Dietary Fiber 1.4 g, 5.6 % DV
  • Sugars 4.2 g = 17 calories
  • Protein 1.4 g,   2.8% DV
  • Ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Palm Oil, Sugar, Leavening, salt, cane syrup.

Upscale Bakery Commercial Artisan Cracker Comparison

The expensive, chic Market Hall (in Oakland) only had one kind of whole grain cracker and I’m not sure even that one was truly whole grain, since there were only 2 grams of fiber per serving, not the expected 3 to 4 grams.

Below is a list of the 6 kinds of Artisan crackers I saw there in April 2012 by brand, price (converted to price per 6 ounces), and the first (main) ingredient listed.

Rustic Bakery olive oil & sel gris $7.25 (unbleached wheat flour), Lesley Raincoast crisps $7.75 (unbleached flour), Flat Out Good whole grain crisp bread $5.75 (whole wheat flour), Urban Oven all-natural crackers $4.55 (wheat flour), Effie’s homemade oatcakes $6 (wheat flour), Potter’s organic artisan California Olive Crackers $6.75 (stone ground wheat flour)

Notice that the first (main) ingredient in these crackers sounds healthy, but only one is whole grain.  The others are all white flour, because the FDA specifies the words whole, graham, or entire need to precede the word flour to be whole grain.  If you don’t see one of those three words, then no matter how gussied up the description is, then it is WHITE flour.

* Energy Cost

Assumption: baking crackers in gas oven at 300 F for 30 minutes uses .056 therm at a cost of 60 cents per therm = 3.3 cents for 4-5 ounces. If you’re baking the crackers with something else in the oven, then the crackers are “free”, and if you’ve put in a second batch of crackers on another rack, then that drops the cost in half.

In an electric oven, at 8 cents per kWh and 2.0 kWh per 1 hour at 350 F: 30 minutes is 1 kWh or 8 cents, well, actually 7 cents, since these bake at 300 F.

If you drove 10 miles to buy groceries and get 20 miles per gallon, you’ve spent at least $1.75 on gas plus $4 wear-and-tear (40 cents per mile) or $5.75 for those groceries….

About Alice

I've milled and baked with whole grains for many years, because whole grains are delicious, and white flour is missing the nutrition that protects you from cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and many other diseases. Plus it's a good emergency food.
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