Ran the cooking guide last night to power through levels 20-30 on a guardian.
Cost about 80s after using random crap I had collected. Took about 90 minutes, half of which was shopping.
I think where they screwed up (if they planned to make it expensive) was in having so many high level recipes built from low level ingredients. Even after completing the shopping for a 0-400 run there was almost nothing in the bottom half of my cooking ingredient collections.
I think I'd recommend chefing to anyone as a way to power level up to dungeon access.
"People will not assume that what they read on the internet is trustworthy or that it carries any particular assurance or accuracy" - Lord Leveson "Hyperbole is a cancer" - Lakov Sanite
I don't think they meant to make it expensive in materials costs, but if you try to level without a guide purely by experimentation you quickly run out of storage due to all the things you make which can be used as components of other recipes. It basically requires that you buy at least one and maybe two extra bank slots to level that way. Plus you have to discover the recipes which can be complicated, especially if you don't cook in real life enough to know some basic recipes and concepts.