Make vs Buy Cranberry Sauce: The Ultimate Thanksgiving Dilemma

6 out of 10 Americans say that cranberry sauce will always be a staple item at their Thanksgiving table.

Do you make yours or buy?

We decided to have a little fun and do a fun financial analysis of the costs of making vs buying!

The Assumptions

  1. We are in Virginia

  2. The cost of your time is $50.00/hour

  3. It takes 30 minutes of travel time each way to the grocery store

  4. A can of cranberry sauce is 14oz at an average cost of $1.85 per can, but we will get 4 cans to feed a family of 20.

  5. We used this recipe:

  6. You're cooking for a family of 20, so you'll need 4 cans of cranberry sauce and you'll make 3 homemade batches.

See HERE for how we got these averages.


Total Travel Time - 1 Hour

PLUSTime in the Grocery Store - 10 Minutes

EQUALS 1.17 Hours

Multiplied by Cost of Your Time/Hour - $50.00

EQUALS $58.33

PLUS Cost of the Cranberry Sauce - $7.40 GRAND TOTAL $65.73

Now let’s compare making cranberry sauce.

Note: You’ll spend more time at the grocery store because you’ll be getting more ingredients!

Total Travel Time -1 Hour

PLUS Time in the Grocery Store - 15 Minutes

PLUS Preparation Time - 1.58

EQUALS 2.83 Hours

Multiplied by Cost of Your Time/Hour - $50.00

EQUALS $141.67

PLUS Cost of the Ingredients - $20.67 GRAND TOTAL $162.34

Analysis Time

While making the cranberry sauce seems more expensive, in reality, it might not be. Here’s why:

Reason 1: You spend $0.51 less making from scratch, but the quality increases at least 100%.

Reason 2: Your family LOVES homemade cranberry sauce vs the canned stuff.

Reason 3: Isn’t it a lovely opportunity to spend some time teaching the kids/grandkids a new recipe? You can’t really put a price on that!

At the end of the day, the extra love and care you put into homemade cranberry sauce are worth the effort. Unless you hate cranberry sauce. Then just buy it off the shelf!

Wishing you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving from Adam Kae & Associates!


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Disclaimer: This article contains information and opinions from Adam Kae & Associates, and the information and opinions should not necessarily be seen as the best possible solutions for your business. Please contact us at to help you find the best solutions for your business.

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