Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day and it’s now also quickly becoming the most expensive. The avian flu is contributing to record-high egg prices, with increases of over 130 percent in parts of the country. Meanwhile, cereal has surged by 20 cents per pound, a significant rise that outpaces all grocery costs over the last five years.
Cereal and eggs are a big part of an American’s diet. In fact, 90 percent of U.S. consumers buy cereal and eat approximately 250 eggs each every year. Unfortunately, that means these price hikes will take a big bite out of a family’s already tight grocery budget.
To keep you and your family’s favorite breakfast food on the table without scrambling up your finances, review these savvy grocery shopping tips.
- Buy in bulk. Both eggs and cereals are better buys in bulk, depending on how quickly your family consumes them. Parents can save an average of 60% on popular cereal brands like Frosted Flakes, while premium brands like Kashi fetch savings of 25% compared to grocery stores. For those incredible eggs, a 24-pack of organic eggs from Costco costs about $6.99, compared to $4 to $5 for a dozen organic eggs from traditional grocery stores.
- Stack Savings. Don’t settle for sales — save even more when you stack manufacturer’s coupons on top of store sales. For example, King Soopers is currently offering four boxes of Kellogg’s or Post cereals for $8, the purchase of which will also score you a free gallon of milk. By searching Coupon Sherpa for Kellogg’s coupons, I found a coupon for $1 off three boxes of Kellogg’s cereals. Together, I’ll pay $7 for four boxes of cereal and one gallon of milk, reducing my cereal cost to $1.75 per box.
- Compare prices. Savvy shoppers know to compare prices between grocers before buying cereal, eggs and other food staples. However, make sure you extend your comparison to drugstores, too. For example, Walgreens is currently offering Frosted Mini Wheats for $2.99 each or two for $5, compared to Walmart’s price of $3.12 each. Drugstores often have sales on eggs and milk to get patrons through their doors, so keep your eyes peeled for these specials, too!
- Mix brand names with generic. The bright colors and flashy cartoon characters leaping from cereal box labels are targeted at children. What’s more, top brands are positioned at a child’s eye level on grocery shelves, making this the most dreaded aisle for parents! These factors contribute to high costs for brand-name cereal, so try store brands instead for up to 50% savings. To keep picky eaters from complaining, mix branded and generic cereals together and store cereal in well-sealed containers. After all, Fruity O’s look identical to Fruit Loops without the packaging!
- Don’t be fooled by colors. When it comes to nutritious food, the color white is increasingly linked to foods we shouldn’t eat – bread, flour, sugar – and some consumers even extend the bias to eggs. However, there is absolutely no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. A different breed of hen lays brown eggs, are larger and require more feed compared to hens laying white eggs. As a result, brown eggs often cost 25% more compared to white eggs, and consumers just assume the cost difference has to do with more nutritional benefits from earth-toned eggs.
- Swap boxes for bags. Bagged cereal can cost $0.40 less per ounce compared to boxed cereal. Cereals contained in bags are not typically name brand, so remember the trick mentioned earlier about storing cereal in easy-to-access jars so kids don’t let advertising influence their taste buds. If you find the bagged cereal isn’t as sweet, you can always add fresh fruit to give your kids the sugary jolt they love naturally.
- Make something new. To reduce the cost of your grocery expense, consider swapping eggs and cereal for other breakfast options. Peanut or almond butter toast with sliced bananas and orange juice will no doubt make your kiddos happy, and parents can feel good knowing their kids are getting good protein, potassium, fiber and Vitamin C. Oatmeal is another breakfast standby and can taste completely different with various mix-ins and be prepared the night before for quicker mornings. Check Pinterest for a plethora of quick and kid-friendly alternatives to your morning meal.
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Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money tips.