Need your best cheap/easy make-ahead recipes for bake sale
I'm in charge of our church's bake sale, to be held Sunday 10/22. I'll be making some of my old stand-bys (pumpkin spice muffins, chocolate cupcakes, butter thumbprint cookies, snickerdoodles, maybe scones), but I also need some EASY, quick-to-make items made with inexpensive ingredients, preferably items that can be made a day or two in advance. Good example of what I'm looking for is rice krispie treats (yes, I'll probably make these even though I think they are gross---I just know they'll sell!). Snacks, sweets and savories all needed. Thanks!
Your question brought Post Traumatic Flashbacks!!! How many bakesales did I contribute to while raising my kids????
I DID learn one thing though. The stuff that sold out quickest was the old standbys - brownies, blondies, chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars, coconut macaroons - the recognizable things. Pies and cakes, especially bundt and pound cakes, did well because people could take them home for dinner desserts. The beautiful, gourmet items were often slow sellers which was disappointing but true. Cozy and familiar sells.
I hate to admit this to Chowhounds but we often had a group make batches of brownies from boxed mixes. They still sold great because people love them. Cut them a day or so ahead and pre-wrap in plastic.
Good for you for giving your time and efforts!
You are so right-on.
Brownies and chocolate chip cookies from a mix are the easiest thing to make, and sell out every time.
If you are cooking in your church kitchen, try buying large size boxes, "institutional size", from Costco, Target, etc. and baking on large sheet-cake pans. Also, try adding some choco.chips to the brownies--easy and delicious. Be sure to under-bake the brownies a little.
Chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie mixes are easy as well, and you can decorate them with m & m's, candy corn, etc.
My other idea, in light of Celeste's great suggestion below, and my weight watchers training, would be to cut the brownies into 2 different sizes, regular and small.
Have fun, and good luck!
If you have access to an institutional sized kitchen with a mixer, you don't even need the boxes. In high school, with zero training, I made 100 dozen chocolate chip cookies from scratch in an afternoon. What got me through were a mixer that could handle quadruple batches at one time and four ovens.
This is absolutely true. Last year my kids' school had a bake sale. The packaged-mix chocolate chip cookies sold fast, but I showed up at the end and got lots of gorgeous amaretti cookies that a fellow foodie had made, for half off. Obviously no one recognized those treasures. (By the way, I do love those rice krispie treats, so I guess I'm not SUCH a snob.) Someone below posted a link to mini pretzels topped with softened Hershey's kisses/hugs and an M&M. My sis-in-law made those once, and they are really quite addictive.
No recipe here, just an idea I though was clever when I saw it at a bakesale recently: put out a collection jar and make a big poster that says something like "COUNTING CALORIES? Make a Donation and Skip the Sugary Treats" It seemed to work well..the jar was full of dollar bills.
re: Hungry Celeste
re: Hungry Celeste
That is an excellent idea!
People are really very generous, but when you try to sell them something that they really don't want they feel it's polite enough to just say no thank you. If you provide an opportunity to make a simple donation, it seems they're willing to give a dollar to a good cause!
I'd have to whole heartedly agree with posters, brownies and chocolate chip cookies. As a true hound I always want to make something different and next week I have to make something for a sale at our elementary school, I already picked up a box of Giradelli brownie mix (the only one I'll buy and my pups love them). I feel guilty every time but it reminds me of years ago when I volunteered to make sugar cookies for a decorating thing at my son's preschool and I opted for Betty Crocker mix because I always hate how homemade cut outs taste...the director pulled me aside later and said "just wanted you to know that we took a vote and your cookies were the best" (I had a reputation for being a baker!) I did confess but I never forgot that either and in fact a bag sits on my counter right now to make cut-outs with my pups...right next to the homemade banana cupcakes with fudge frosting...from scratch!! ; )
I like the Betty Crocker Pouch Mix for peanut butter cookies. I add peanut butter instead of the "add 1/4 cup of oil".
If you want EASY cookies, just spread the choc chip or peanut butter cookie mix into a big 13x9 pan and bake, then cut into squares. Saves the time of spooning out the cookies onto cookie sheets etc/.
I say, to anyone making a large number of drop cookies for whatever reason COOKIE SCOOP. Sometimes they are called icecream scoops, sometimes people call them portioners. Whatever you call it, they make cookie making/baking a breeze. I like the 3/4oz size, but a 1oz makes agood size cookie.
Shortbread. It improves being made ahead. Easy to make in a jelly roll pans in large quanties.
I like flavor my shortbreads with citrus zest and ginger, maybe a touch of nutmeg. Sprinkling with cinnamon sugar after they are baked is also a nice touch.
People gobble up shortbread.
Use good sweet (unsalted) butter.
How about these chocolate graham crackers? Lots of bang for your buck.
There's a similar recipe involving matzo, should you happen to have a leftover box in the pantry or find it on sale. It got rave reviews from a lot of chowhounders last Passover:
Biscotti are cheap to make and easy and sell well, but the pretzel sticks were my best-ever bake-sale item. I dipped the big pretzel sticks into melted caramel (not all the way, leave some for a handle) then chocolate and drizzing with white chocolate. I wrapped them loosely and tied with cheap ribbon and stood them upright in a vase. I think I sold them for $2 each.
Around here, home made peanut brittle totally sells out.
There's also this idea that Val posted a while back and I've seen on here before:
60 mini pretzel twists
60 rollo candies (chocolate covered caramels)
60 pecan halves (you could even use toasted pecan halves or even walnut halves or even peanuts but some are allergic, I realize...possibilities are endless)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Arrange little twists in single layer on baking sheet; top each one with one rollo candy. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and push a pecan half down onto top of somewhat melty rollo candy. Let set for 3 minutes and then refrigerate to further set.
I think those pretzel checkerboard shapes would work better, but I've never tried these... they sound good to me!
Fudge - this is about the easiest recipe there is. You can use melted marshmallows in place of the marshmallow creme, chocolate chips instead of bakers chocolate, and also skip the nuts. I've added peppermint extract as well, for chocolate mint fudge and/or broken candy canes.
What on earth are snickerdoodles?
I love banana bread and poppy seed breads too. The banana bread takes around an hour to bake, though. You can pre-slice that stuff to sell it. I found one recipe for banana bread which uses sour cream, but I don't have it on me.
All the other ideas and recipes look so good! I wish I had a bake sale going on over here...
re: Katie Nell
re: Katie Nell
Just wanted to let you all know that I baked some snickerdoodles last night and they're great. I used the Emeril recipe, which make something like 50 cookies (not 20). I added a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and a sprinkling of allspice into the batter. The first batch, I overbaked and they ended up a little dry. The next batches have a bit of that chewiness in the middle. They are really great. The taste reminds me a bit of peanut butter cookies. Very easy to make. Thanks for the recipes!
This cake is killer!
One Bowl Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. Baking soda
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 16 oz. Can crushed pineapple (including juice)
Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350* oven. Cake should be firm in the middle. Cool for 1 hour.
One Bowl Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8 oz. Package cream cheese, room temp
1⁄2 stick butter, room temp
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1⁄4 cup milk or enough for frosting consistency
Beat all ingredients in a large bowl. Frost the entire top of cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Thanks for all the terrific ideas! For the record, here is the Snickerdoodle recipe I'll be using:
Snickerdoodles are a very "old-fashioned" cookie, popular with the older(60+)crowd. And, as you can see by the ingredients, they are CHEAP to make! I wasn't sure about using shortening instead of butter or margarine in a cookie, but it works surprisingly well in this recipe. I used to make these for a coffee shop I baked for several years ago. Only there we made them BIG---used about 1/3 cup of dough for each cookie. May make them that way for the sale....
re: Katie Nell
I agree, and I'm not 60 either! I just meant that they were a much more popular cookie in the past than, say, chocolate chips are today. They're a "feel good" cookie---the older folks I know all seem to remember them with fondness---usually tied to a memory involving their mother. And it's hard not to smile when you say "snickerdoodle"!
Getting away from sweets, how about pure junk food. At the high school we used to sell nachos and chili fritos. Buy the industrial size cheese sauce, tortilla chips and sliced jalapenos at Costco. Use a crock pot lined with a baking bag to heat nacho sauce. Heat chili in a crock pot, open a snack bag of fritos and add cheese, pour chili on top and send them away with a spoon and napkin. Easy. Bottle of hot sauce and onions are always a plus. We always offered bottled water, sodas, hot chocolate and coffee at our bake sales, they were big sellers too.
Betty Crocker has just re-issued the classic The Cookie Book, a spiral bound hard back from the 60's. It has almost all the classics, and has sections on bars, drops, rolled, refrigerator, cookies that ship, cookies for a crowd (extra large recipes that yield dozens of cookies for events) and even 'cookie of the decade' highlighting when and why most of the popular cookies were developed. Great 60's graphics and illustrations.
This is a good reference book and will appear under many a holiday tree this year. My old copy is beginning to tear at the perfs so I'm treating myself to a new one!
Here's my tried and true Chewy Molasses Cookies used for bake sales for years and years. They are attractive with a crinkle top and very cheap to make, so you can make money.
I prefer to make big cookies for sales because is saves time (there is less shaping and baking) and you can charge more, so less individual sales needed. These are bakery sized, but you can make them any size and reduce the baking time. Don't overbake or they are not as good, underbaking makes them chewy.
Buckeyes, buckeyes, buckeyes!
* 4 (16 ounce) jars peanut butter
* 3 1/2 (16 ounce) packages confectioners' sugar
* 1 cup butter, melted
* 3 (12 ounce) packages semi-sweet chocolate chips
* 2 tablespoons shortening
1. Blend together the peanut butter, sugar and melted butter. Allow to chill in refrigerator.
2. Roll into 1 inch round balls and return to refrigerator.
3. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate and shortening. Whisk together until smooth.
4. With a toothpick inserted in the balls, dip them into the chocolate so they look like buckeyes. Place on waxed paper and allow to set in refrigerator.
Hi. I'm new to Chowhound. Hope I can figure this out!
Anne, can you tell me how this went?
I just agreed to hold a bake sale on Dec 9th for my son's cub scouts. I don't know how much other parents will bake given the short notice and season. I need popular and thrifty ideas, in volume that I can make several days ahead in case I am a lone baker. I'm making a note of ideas given - but what did you decide on and what sold well?
We probably won't be selling individual servings that day. (The sale will be at a Christmas party and desserts will be served for free.) Although I thought of maybe selling assortments of cookies to go home or be given as gifts.
I would really appreciate any advice! One bake sale I helped in did really well - but another flopped!
Thanks, Soose aka HolidayBaker
Hey, Soose! Our bake sale went really well. As expected, the best sellers were the easy stuff. Yes, the Rice Krispie Treats were the first to sell!
I didn't make pies, but we had several donated, and those sold best of all. We charged $10 for fruit (double-crust) pies, and $8 for single-crust pies (such as pumpkin). The pumpkin pies didn't sell as well, but the fruit pies flew out of there!
Of the things I made, the pumpkin muffins, chocolate cupcakes and the snickerdoodles sold most quickly. I also made up "monster munch" (it was the week before Halloween) that was a mixture of m& m's, candy corn, popcorn and cheap pretzel sticks/bagel chips/sesame crisps mix. I put it in small bags and it sold well.
As for cookies, most everyone was looking for chocolate chips.
Cakes did not sell well.
Bread (all kinds) sold very well. Beer bread is super easy to make (recipes are easy to find) and sold well.
I made the pretzel/Hershey Hugs/m&m's candies and they didn't sell at all. Fudge (with or without nuts---be sure to label accordingly) sold best of the candies. We do have a 90-year-old lady in our church who makes awesome divinity and that sold well too.
A couple of non-baking hints:
*Wrap items attractively. I put 6 pumpkin muffins in a plastic bag inside a basket I found for a quarter at a garage sale. It easily sold for $1 over the muffins packaged more plainly.
*Label items well. I made computer labels for the items I made. Change the font to suit the item. For example, I used the "creepy" font to label my monster munch.
*Don't spend a lot, but make the display area attractive. Bright orange plastic table cloths and a tissue-paper leaf garland really dressed up our tables.
*Be prepared to adjust prices as the day goes on. The last hour of our sale items were buy one, get one free.
*No matter what you do, not everything will sell. Have a plan for what to do with the remainders. Ours were brought to a soup kitchen.
Hope your sale goes well!
Thanks so much for the feedback about what sold well! I read your post almost immediately and have been trying all day to absorb what sells and what doesn't - and what we have time and resources to make. I talked also to a friend who works in a small bakery part time and pays a lot of attention to why people seem to buy what they do. (Of course it is a little different.)
Have you any idea why cakes did not sell well? Did you ask anyone? I am surprised at that. But I'm also aware that I could spend all day making a good-looking (and tasting of course) cake and not make as much profit as with other lower cost items.
One friend suggested the little mini loaf fruit cakes, banana breads, and other types of quick breads like poppy seed cakes. I have a walnut quick bread somewhere.
You weren't holding this at Christmas time. Do ya'll think sugar cookies (decorated) will sell well? Someone suggested pastel icing in patterns like you see on magazine covers at the checkouts.
And then we talked of gingerbread cookies and men, decorated. I think those should go well? When I think holidays I also think scones and shortbread.
Can't remember if I said that there will be a dessert table at the party with dinner (potluck dessert) so we won't be trying to sell much in the way of individual treats to kids that night. We'll be targeting the take home market this year.
Packaging seems really important. I thought of selling an assortment but then came up with the idea of setting out several varieties of cookies and candies on trays and letting people make up their own dozen - the way people seem to want to point to one of every type of doughnut in the line at Krispy Kreme.
I wonder about "gift baskets" and teacher gifts. Or a cellophane bag with a nice ribbon and a sign telling them how they can use this for such and such purpose. We also talked about "build a basket" where they get to pick what goes in from some pre-packaged treats and pay the total.
I guess this is not all about food. To add to your non-baking hints, my friend says:
"Anything with colors - and especially unusual colors - sells well, anything that makes people go Oooh Ahhh...". She made regular turkeys with orange themed tails but the dozen they made with purple pink etc tails went immediately - snapped up.
"Sprinkles sell." Add sprinkles!
"Sugar sells." If it's got sugar and is sweet it sells.
Another friend said her dh will buy anything chocolate or fudge at a bake sale. Anything!
I am full of more questions!
One is how do you price things - would there be a multiplier as in take the cost and double it or triple it? [One friend suggested we determine an acceptable price, and then a bit higher price; sell multiples at the acceptable price but singles at the higher price.
The next one is: what did you wrap the different baked goods in? And where did you buy the wrappings?
Thanks ever so much! Soose
I was very surprised that cakes didn't sell, too. Especially since cupcakes sold very well. Seems that people wanted things that could be eaten as individual servings. One lady made a bunch of small pies---I'm guessing the tins were 4". They sold out quickly at $5 each.
I forgot to mention that fruit breads (like banana) also sold well.
Pricing is more a matter of location than cost-based. If you can, get to other bake sales in your area, to see what the "going rate" is on items. I was amazed that the easiest, CHEAPEST items I made could be sold for the same (or higher!) prices as the complicated, time-consuming stuff made with expensive ingredients! I know you're a 'hound (or else you wouldn't be HERE!), but most of your customers are probably used to buying their baked goods at the supermarket---and think they are delicious! Believe me, no one is going to spend more on your brownies if they are made with Belgian chocolate than if they're made with Hershey's.
We tried to package most "multiples" so that they fell into the $2-5 range. For example, I priced muffins at 50c each, plated up at $3 for 6. I sold cupcakes at the same price, but that was probably too low. Next time I think I'd charge 75c per cupcake, so a plate of 6 would be $4.50.
And yes, ANYTHING CHOCOLATE sells!!!!
Here's a cheap and easy recipe for chocolate cupcakes---you won't even need to pull out your mixer! It made 24 cupcakes which I baked for about 20 minutes:
Eggless One Bowl Chocolate Cake (Vegan)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups water, cold
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix together remaining ingredients in a large measuring cup. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and stir until well mixed. Pour into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch pan (or 24 paper-lined muffin tins). Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes (about 20 for cupcakes).
Sounds like it went well! Thanks for the update. It seems like most things sold at bake sales are impulse buys so things that look good and are immediately edible go. One thing about donating to a soup kitchen--find out beforehad if they can accept it. I just read that they can't in our area because of food safety issues (prepared in a non-certified kitchen).
The reason why I don't buy cakes at a bake sale is because there are only two of us and we shouldn't be eating a lot of sweets. I will buy small packages i.e. half dozen of cookies. I will also buy a single piece of fudge ... not on the diet but can one really hurt! Good luck on your bake sale.
Also, there are a lot of bad cakes out there, so it's more of an investment issue... a cookie or bag of cookies cost significantly less than a whole cake, so you're not really losing a whole lot if you don't end up liking the cookies.
My mini cheesecakes (36 of them) sold out in 15 minutes at the bake sale at work!
re: Katie Nell
Thanks all of you for sharing your experience and knowledge!
Cakes. I think you're right about the investment for a large cake (what if it's horrible?) and the quantity/diet limitations.
Hmm, maybe smaller 6" cakes are the way to go? Good insight about that being too much of an investment. But a 6" cake sold for -- how much? maybe $6 -- would that go?)
If its not too late to chime in...our bake sale sold out on the S'more Brownies the holiday weekend. We charged 1.00 a square and luckily everyone made a batch. In brownies alone we raised $2,000.
After you bake your favorite moist brownie recipe turn the oven to broiler. On top of "just out of the oven" brownies spread evenly one bag of small marshmellows, one bag of choc chips (minis) . Stick under the broiler for a minute (door open) or long enuf to just toast the marshmellows. Let them cool and slice.
I will chime in here.. I am the president of the Nutrition and Food department at my University so we often do bake sales to raise money for events etc. Chocolate sells. It doesnt matter what it is.. people love chocolate. My chocolate brownies went in moments! We should have sold them for $3 a piece.
Not as good sellers are muffins. We always have a lot of people make muffins since we are a nutrition program, and they just dont stand out against a cupcake, tart or brownie.
When in doubt, go chocolate.
My friend at the bakery says they use just powdered sugar and water as their icing for decorated cookies. Can't use egg whites in royal icing - leaving meringue powder I suggested but she immediately said, "that tastes horrible!" and I think she is right - we don't want to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth for next year. What do ya'll think about icing for gingerbread cookies and decorated sugar cookies?
I have a recipe for Marzipan Cream Cake that is to die for. It's a white cake with a lovely 1/2" of cream filling, a layer of apricot preserves across the top covered by a sheet of marzipan (and decorated with marzipan). But I feel the Marzipan would make it too gourmet and expensive for a bake sale.
Anyway, what do ya'll think of some type of almond-flavored icing substitute for the sheet of marzipan on top? What would do well on top of a layer of the preserves or jam? I'm sure I could get the flavor right. How about making it with Fondant like Petits Fours?
Oh, I'm off on all of our favorite old time cake recipes. It's been years since I made some of them but I was looking through the files... Million Dollar Pound Cake; Lemon Jelly Layer cake was good; Cashew Pineapple. My great grandmother's Applesauce Cake. And cookies!
Okay, I'm totally offtrack. Mass produced peanut butter balls and lots of brownies it is! :) Maybe some foccacia type breads. I have a recipe for Italian Cheese Bread Ring made in a bundt pan with a cheese filling. But I think I will try the shortbread.
Soose, while those ideas sound wonderful to ME, and certainly to other 'hounds here, my experience with bake sales is KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) LOL!
BTW, my last reply to you may have gotten buried. It's 8 replies up from here. I'd highly recommend the chocolate cupcake recipe---couldn't be easier, ingredient costs were about $1, and makes about $12 worth of product (although I'm not including frosting in these figures---again, the simpler, the better).
I'm sure the bake sale is over (and this is a no-bake recipe anyway), but this is an evergreen topic.
Chocolate covered spiders! Or Haystacks!
This was one of my favorite recipes from childhood. I totally forgot about them until someone brought them in for a work thing last year. You will be embarrassed at how good you think they are and how many you eat. I also added slivered almonds when I made them. They would also be good in a chocolate-mint form for the holidays. I let them chill down in our unheated mudroom.
12 oz. pkg. butterscotch chips
12 oz. jar peanut butter
9 oz. can chow mein noodles
Melt chips in a saucepan, add peanut butter and remove from heat. Stir well. Add chow mein noodles. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Allow to cool thoroughly.
[I apologize if this is a sort of double post; I think my wireless ate the one I just made.]
I started testing recipes tonight. I'm starting with the candies because I think they'll hold and I need to test them. (Not made candies in years. I'm more a bread/cake person.)
I tried the Chocolate Caramel Graham Crackers posted by Dizzied earlier in this thread. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...
Since it's for a sale, I made two changes for cost-cutting: I used melted dark almond bark instead of chocolate, and I used some pecan meal I had on hand to dust the tops instead of chopped nuts.
Friends and even a neighbor weighed in on whether I should use cheap almond bark. The version at Dollar General Markets here is only $1.50/20 oz block, by Gurley's Golden Recipe, came recommended, and both dark and white test fine imo, not waxy like even the good chocolates can get with too much paraffin. I'm very pleased with it and it's a great price, though I guess it's seasonal here. Maybe the taste of the dark makes a difference in the recipe, I wouldn't know, it's rather milk chocolatey.
The recipe was SO easy to make, and when I sprinkled the pecan meal on I thought to myself, "That looks like See's toffee." Sure enough, when I tasted it that's what I thought of! We don't get much of that candy but we remember it! This candy has a nice very light crunchy toffee feel to the teeth.
I had one problem with this and need advice. After freezing, it wouldn't break evenly. What I have is a bag of broken pieces like peanut brittle. Maybe it was the Nestle's Honey Maid graham crackers - I thought when I opened the package they were not perforated well and would not break, and were crumbly. Maybe the're old! I did buy them at the Dollar General. I will try the other brand. Any advice on breaking these evenly?
The other thing is that the recipe says to refrigerate with wax paper between layers for up to 2 weeks. Well, I have a bag full of random chunks and no wax paper separators. And even if I break them into even little rectangles do I really have to keep them separate?
I want them to keep until the sale next Saturday. It's cold here, and I can leave them in the garage, even colder, but next Saturday I have to take them inside to the bake sale- how do I avoid sweating and sticking together?
Thanks! This recipe is a real keeper!
I haven't figured out the cost per serving yet, what to sell it at.
One tray = 48 little rectangles (1/4 graham cracker
)Almond Bark 10 oz = $.75
Light Brown Sugar 1/2 c = $.25
Butter 1.5 sticks = $.75
Crackers 1/2 box = $1.25
Nut topping 1/2 cup or 2oz pecan meal = $.50 or more
Generously, $3.50? Does anyone else cost recipes?
Yield approx 1.5 lbs or 4 loosely packed cups, definitely more than a quart sized measure can hold because they won't fit.
Anyone have an opinion on what I should charge for this? Dare I ask what would happen if I made a version out of margarine for the Vegans and dairy intolerant? It would certainly be cheaper! Woops, scratch that - the almond bark has whey (milk); don't know if the allergics can handle that but 'tis not Vegan.
By the way, I'm calling them Toffee Grahams. I think that's a much better name!
I also made some Peppermint Almond Bark. Just white A.Bark and some crushed peppermint. I moulded them in copper cookie cutters sitting on wax paper. They were real easy, a couple of spoonfuls of bark into the top, drop some peppermint on the top, chill. Impressive, I bet they sell real well!
I think these latter are going to cost about 10cents each? I think selling them for 50cents or 5 for $2 in a bag? Or on a stick. My friend the baker's helper says anything on a stick is one of the impulse triggers for buying! lol Curb appeal for candies. I need a name for Cmas trees (3") on a stick.
Well, ya'll may be tired of the bake sale, sorry if so. It'll be over SOON.
Because this is for a bake sale, I committed the dastardly deed - tried the Toffee Grahams recipe with all margarine and again with 2/3 butter and 1/3 margarine and the resounding opinion here is that the savings is NOT worth the degradation in flavor.
Much more efficient is to shop for a cheap but good graham cracker. The HoneyMaid Nabiscos were good tasting but expensive around here ($2.50 / box), and they were not perforated well. I've gone to the practice of pre-breaking all the cookies apart before laying them out on the cookie sheet. That helps a lot but there is still some breakage.
The Great Value version at Walmart is only 1.25/box. Just as good as the HoneyMaids, still not perforated great but not as badly as the HoneyMaids.
The Keebler brand crumbles away - we're taking them back to the store - and they were 2.50.
I did see an off brand at the Dollar Tree but decided not to try to save the quarter/box over the Great Value.
Another cost savings that was unintentional but is actually a good thing for taste I think is using the pecan meal instead of chopped nuts.
I'm glad to have some margarine ones for those who don't want butter, but I'm just going to have them under the table in case someone asks. The almond bark or the crackers has whey anyway. Not sure if dairy allergens can tolerate whey.
I can't get over how quick these are to make! Bagging them takes longer. I hope everyone else likes them as much as I do!
I made some more Peppermint SnowCandy I am calling it. Put ground up altoids in as extra mint flavoring. But moulding it up in cookie cutters is really too time-consuming. If I make any more I'm going to just pour on a sheet and break like brittle.
Tonight, the kids are all going to do all the dipping - pretzels, pb balls, haystacks, coconut balls - and bagging of those treats! Thank heavens. I want to get to baking!
Thanks for all the help and hope this is useful to someone else who has a similar need in the future.
Your feed back is fabulous -- I'll definitely keep it in mind.
Your solution to the breakage problem sounds good. In my experience, the Toffee Grahams don't break evenly regardless of graham crackers used -- they do break into big shards, like bark or brittle. Also in my experience, no one cares. It sounds like you're bagging other bark, which would work for the Grahams too (if a bit of a hassle).
Garage storage sounds good -- I'm not sure I've had a batch last long enough to have tested it. I don't remember the grahams sweating and sticking together when kept at room temperature, unless the room was awfully warm for a long time, in which case you'd have trouble with the bark and other things that you're dipping.
Good luck! I look forward to the final report!
I'm home from the Bake Sale. Warning, this is a long post!
I will make notes for future organizers of the group tomorrow, right now we're pretty tired. I'd say for our first bake sale, it was a pretty positive experience. I baked a lot myself, way more than I normally would, since it was short notice and we didn't have many people bringing goods.
I like to have a variety on the table, something to appeal to different folks, and I'm so glad I did bring as much as I could. People were pleased at the variety to choose from, there was the typical bake sale anticipatory atmosphere. :) I asked for and got a central high-traffic location, right next to the big inflatables where all the kids were playing, instead of off in the foyer at the other end of the building.
The Toffee Grahams were a HUGE hit. They sold steadily in 6oz bags (12 crackers). We did cut them neatly for those bags. I think I had made 14 bags and I put a tray of little pieces out for samples in front of the bags - soon as people tasted them they picked up a bag to buy. We sold those for $3 (cost was $.98). We were also responsible for taking a dessert to the dinner that night, and we took a plate of toffee graham pieces, so we got customers from there. Good thinking. :) No one noticed they were not made of expensive chocolate. The brand at Dollar General is a good product for this venue.
I was surprised no one asked for the recipe! I had been debating whether to give it out there as it's a great fundraiser and once people know how to make them, they lose the mystery. :) I think we could sell them for Valentine's Day or something? :) People liked the name Toffee Grahams, it quickly became a byword.
[ I have restrained myself but have a hankering to try turning the block over and putting chocolate on the back of those Toffee Grahams once the top is hard. And I have about 3 pkgs of Graham Crackers in the pantry I didn't make. ]
Let's see... brownies were a big flop in this venue. Everyone including kids had access to the dessert table with their choco-addiction sated. So there was less impulse buying of chocolate. In fact we had other chocolate treats, scrumptious looking, and most of them did not sell. (Anyone know what a Whoopie Pie is? Two devils's food cakes with something white in the middle - I didn't try it.) Two types of brownies; and not too many for this size crowd imo. I made 35 good sized ones and someone else brought in about that many packed in doubles. Very little sold.
My Peppermint SnowCandy (the almond bark with peppermints, moulded with Christmas cookie cutters) was priced too high at 50c for the kids' pockets. Eventually it did sell for those making up trays. We could have sold way more choco-covered pretzels than I had. I priced them 25c which was probably close to cost, wanting something they could buy.
The gingerbread men that were a flop (too dry) were decorated so nicely - we put them on a colored popsicle stick, with the decor balls as hair and booties, and even little colored buttons and eyes - - people were not willing to pay for the labor here even with such color. We started at $2, reduced to $1, finally sold them gradually. I didn't want people eating it really, it was supposed to be an ornament, but they did.
I never got to make any breads and we didn't have any. I'm sure a few loaves would have sold if they were durable. I'm sure the Italian Bread Cheese Ring would have sold if cut in two. We had those looking to experiment, I could tell. :)
The only cakes we had were the ones my husband and I baked this morning; they sold well as they were smaller. I made the 4 mini banana breads, and made two other cake recipes - a yellow rum streusel with a caramel rum glaze and a pumpkin spice type cake, with craisins and dates and walnuts and a tangerine cranberry glaze... people liked the exotic glazes and pretty looks in the little 6" aluminum pans. Mmm. We kept one of each to try here.
Cakes like this are a good profit maker. For a couple of dollars each recipe (I started the two with cake mixes, but the banana bread was scratch) and maybe an hour all told labor, the yield of a recipe is 4 mini cakes at $3 each; or 3 little 6" round cakes, one layer with glaze sold at $4 each. Someone even suggested we sell them at $5 but we didn't try. I think we could have sold more small cakes. The hesitation to buy we see with larger cakes was not there at all.
The Spritz cookies sold pretty well. I only made 5 bags. I think cookies would normally be a good profit maker. But someone brought many little bags of m and m cookies, small ones, and we only sold a fraction of them. 3 smaller cookies for 50 cents may have been too much? Maybe not normally but it was that night. We should have reduced the price. But I think the reason they did not go is the same as the chocolate not going - dessert was already there.
Some people with siblings at home or more kids were looking for quantity -- a bag of cookies to share out for instance. Something to make sure everyone got something, within their budget.
I don't know about breads as I didn't have time to make any so we didn't have any to try.
Overall, we had too much individual chocolate treats for our venue with dinner and dessert. But later in the evening, the kids were steady buyers of the 1 ft long peppermint sticks I bought on a whim, at 3/$1 at Dollar General, and sold for $.75 to them. In fact they saw their friends with them and came asking for more, so I ended up selling other peppermint canes I had for other purposes. I could have sold more of those!
The trail mix went well, and we could have sold a lot more. Ditto the choco-covered pretzels which we nicknamed Tsunamis after the den of boys who made them for sale. We could definitely have sold a good many bigger bags of each of those. (I had packed about 10 mini-pretzels in a little bag for 25c. I don't think it was the low price that made them sell either. ) We could have deinitely used more salty snacks.
In terms of profit, I think I have a better idea of what goods are more trouble than they are worth. If a treat has to be made individually, like the Peppermint Snow Cutouts I made and decorating the gingerbread men, then they just take too much time for a sale. Time could be better spent producing other goods if you're trying to make a profit. Now, even rolled cookies can be a good profit, only a few cents each and sell for many times the cost. But if you get into handling and packaging each one too much, your productivity goes way down.
To be specific, I had to handle the Toffee Grahams to cut and bag them, but the cost/bag justified that. ($3/6oz and actually I don't think people would have minded if they were just broken up. Cutting was a persnickety step of mine.) I had to handle the Peppermint Snow Cutouts individually, decorating them and removing the moulds then packaging and ribbon. Hard to sell even for cost.
The teachers' gifts we had donated were an unknown. They were plastic cone-shaped bags of hot cocoa (4 servings) that were shaped to look like an ice cream cone, quite attractive and very different from anything else on the tables. All sold eventually at $3 each. But I don't think any are going to teachers for gifts! :)
That brings up another point -- maybe the brownies and Whoopie Pies and all the chocolate individual stuff did not sell as well because it was all too close together on the table and had no differentiation.
Another part, not really baking but for future bake salers, I bought some tins and trays and the cellophane bags, just a few, and had them there so people could make a tray or a tin. We sold about $40 more of goods because of that. The trays and tins are bought at the dollar store and you can easily mark them up a little to save people the trip. We can see this growing at another Christmas sale. People need to know ahead of time so they will expect it and come prepared with a gift list in mind.
Thanks to all for the help with bake-sale savvy and recipes! I really appreciate it, and have enjoyed the baking part of it as much as anything!
Sounds like your bakesale went well and you had fun. I head up the stewards of our church and we have "Bake Sale Sunday" the first Sunday of every month. The most popular item by far is the butterscotch squares.
The recipe is: 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, 1 cup butterscotch chips, 8 oz. bag coloured marshmallows. Melt butter and peanut butter. Stir in chips until melted. When cool enough so marshmallows do not melt, stir them into mixture. Mix well and spread in a 9" x 9" pan. Cool and cut into squares.
It is soooo easy and is always the first thing to go at the bake sale. Other very popular items are lemon loaves:
1 lemon cake mix, 1 lemon jello pudding mix, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 4 eggs, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice. Mix all until blended. Beat 2 minutes. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 until centre is finished (about 50 minutes).
Also carrot cake goes very fast.
Let me know how you do if you have another one.
Good old standby. cupcakes. tie dyed ones catch the eye. you can make so many different flavors and a buttercream frosting then using the decorating gel (about 6 colors) you put a line across in each color then drag a toothpick through it. Very pretty and inexpensive. I have made several batches of these and all the neighborhood kids went nuts! I also used a heart shaped tassie pan and made cherry cupcakes from a box mix and tinted the frosting pink. my next door neighbors girls gobbled them up.