How to Solve Word Problems

Since we have calculators to work with, it might seem as if we would always get the correct answer to a math problem. But calculators are actually just tools to help us do quick and accurate math calculations. That frees us to understand the problems we are trying to solve. We can focus our attention on what a problem is asking and how to use the numbers we are given to solve a problem.

Math has four basic processes: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. Using these four processes correctly is the first step in learning how to use math to solve problems in the bakery.

One way to understand word problems is to look for clues in the problem to help decide which process to use. For example, for addition, some clue words are: total, increase, all together, and combine. Let’s look at a problem:

If your bakery spent $649.37 for the monthly solid waste fee, and $749.23 for the monthly utilities fee, how much did your bakery spend all together?

Notice the words “all together” in the problem. This is a clue that we want to add the two numbers. So we will add 649.37 + 749.23 = 1398.6  When we are talking about money, unless the answer comes out in even dollars, we want it to come out in dollars and cents. So we will say the total the bakery spent on solid waste and utilities was $1398.60.

Some clue words for subtraction are: fewer than, decrease, take away, and left.

If you make 124 cakes for the bake sale, and you sell 103 of them, how many cakes will you have left?

Notice the word “left” in the problem. This is a clue that we want to subtract the two numbers. We will start with the number of cakes we started with: 124 LaTeX: - 103 = 21. We will have 21 cakes left.

Multiplication uses some of the same clue words as addition, such as total and all together. It also uses words such as each, twice, double, triple, and times.

If the bakery pays $157.50 for each case of roasted garlic granules, how much would 5 cases cost in total?

The word “total” is a clue that we will either want to add or multiply, but the word “each” is a clue that we want to multiply. We will multiply 157.50 LaTeX: \times 5 = 787.5. Again, we want to give the answer in dollars and cents, so our answer will be $787.50.

Some clue words for division are: divided, equally, half, third. The word “each” is also used in division problems.

If it costs you $33.75 to make a batch of 125 cookies, how much does it cost to make each cookie?

This problem can’t be solved simply by looking at the clue word. Does “each” mean to multiply or to divide? While clue words are helpful in setting up and solving word problems, it’s always necessary to read word problems carefully and understand what they are asking. In this case read the problem carefully. We are starting with a total cost, and then we want to find the cost for a part of the total. We want to divide the cost between each of the 125 cookies. 33.75 LaTeX: \div 125 = 0.27  It costs $0.27 (or 27 cents) to make each cookie.


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To practice reading and solving word problems relating to bakery math.


By completing this assignment, you will be able to…

  1. Read word problems for understanding, looking for clue words.
  2. Correctly solve word problems using the four basic processes.


To complete this assignment…

  1. Read the problems carefully and find the correct answers.
  2. Be sure to show how you set up each problem.


Tips for Success

To help in the completion of this assignment, make sure to:

  • Read each problem carefully and understand what it is asking.
  • Look for clue words in the problems.
  • Include how you set up each problem in order to get credit.

Word Problems Assignment

1) The utility bills for the bakery were $486.97 in January, $523.32 in February, and $531.98 in March. What was the total utility bill for the quarter?

2) Sara made 351 pastries, and she packed them into boxes of 13 pastries each. How many boxes did she need?

3) The bakery budget for produce for the week is $500. If the bakery has spent $397.26 so far this week for supplies, how much money is left in the budget?

4) The recipe calls for 1.25 pints of heavy cream. If you want to triple the recipe, how much cream will you use?

5) Bill made a cake that used 0.75 pound of flour. How much flour is left in the bag if it contained 20 pounds of flour to begin with?

6) If you buy carrots at 50 cents per pound, how much will 8.5 pounds of carrots cost?

7) One case of sunflower oil costs $71.09, one case of peanut oil costs $55.06, one case of of butter-flavored coconut oil costs $61.78, and one case of vegetable salad oil costs $43.13. How much would the total cost be to buy one of each?

8) There are 250 grams of confectioners sugar in the bag. If LaToya wants to sprinkle the sugar equally over 8 cakes, how many grams would she sprinkle over each cake? 

9) The budget for utilities for the bakery for an entire year is $6510. What would the monthly budget for utilities be?

10) If 250 guests are expected in Banquet Room 1, and 575 guests in Banquet Room 2, how many guests are expected all together?

11) If the server makes $13.56 per hour including tips, how much would she make after working a 52 hour week?

12) If Joe discovers that 20.875 pounds of potatoes are spoiled, how many pounds of potatoes will he have left to use if he started with 100 pounds of potatoes?

13) If kitchen rental fees are $28.75 per hour, how much would it cost to rent a kitchen for 4 hours?

14) If Renee wants to make a cake that uses 1.5 pounds of flour, and another that uses 1.25 pounds of flour, how much flour will she need all together?

15) If the grocer wants to separate mint into bunches of 55 grams, and she starts with 1870 grams, how many bunches of mint can she make?

16) If a bottle of olive oil contains 25.4 fluid ounces, and the recipe calls for 6 fluid ounces of olive oil, how much will be left in the bottle?

17) If the banquet hall has 32 tables, and there are 256 chairs in total, how many chairs should you put at each table if you divide them evenly?

18) The dessert calls for 8 pounds of peaches. If Joe wants to triple the recipe, how many pounds of peaches will he need?

19) If Jin buys 3.78 pounds of carrots, 5.97 pounds of apples, 6.42 pounds of bananas, and 12.23 pounds of potatoes, how many total pounds of produce will be in his bag?

20) Loose-leaf oolong tea comes in a package weighing 8 ounces. If one pot of tea uses 0.5 ounce of tea, how many ounces will be left after making a pot of tea with a new package?


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Bakery and Business Math Copyright © by Eunice Graham is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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