After years of going down the wrong path I've finally realized that the most valuable thing is time. I can get more ingredients but I can't get more time. On brew-days past, I spent a lot of time messing around with the system so I didn't leave any wort behind in the pipes and tubes ad bottoms of keggles in my brewery system.
But no more. The upshot of this is that I will be brewing larger batches with a certain amount of waste built into the process, so I don't have to take so much time and expend so much effort to make sure I get every drop of goodness out of a batch. What does this mean in terms of dollars and cents? Not much. Lets take a Cream Ale recipe as an example.
I'll use the worst-case scenario, and look at the costs as if I was buying all my ingredients from the most expensive homebrew shop in my area. All the following prices include tax. Pilsner malt is one of the cheaper options there at $1.55 per pound, but other malts are as much as $2.75. Hops are $3.25 per ounce, dry yeast is $5.40 and liquid yeast is $8.10 per packet. Going up in batch size from five gallons to seven gallons means adding another three pounds or so of malt, and another ounce or two of hops. On the yeast I would just make a bigger starter. So if we say that the 'average' malt is $2.00 per pound, we're looking at bumping up the total cost of the batch $9.25 for the additional hops and malt for a fairly light, not overly hopped beer.
I'm OK with that. Looking at my regular sources where my costs are roughly half that much, I'm totally OK with blowing an extra five bucks per batch. The one gotcha here is that it will take a bit longer to get seven gallons of water up to temps rather than five. But I don't need to be fussing with it or standing around as that happens. I can set a timer and go do other stuff.