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Cereal Cost Comparison

April 14th, 2009

I usually have ready-to-eat cereal for breakfast. In fact, my family eats a lot of cereal. We not only have it for breakfast but also for between meal snacks, bedtime snacks and when we are really lazy, we eat it for supper. Over the years it has been my most common response to my children’s complaint of “I’m hungry, what’s to eat around here?”

I’ve always considered cereal to be an economical choice, but cereal prices have been going up, so I thought I’d actually check and see what a bowl of cereal costs. I checked prices on whole grain oat cereal. (I usually try to eat whole grain cereal for breakfast—it’s the main way I meet the recommendation to eat some whole grains every day.)

Here’s what I found out:

Name brand toasted

oat cereal (little rings)

$3.12 for 18-ounce box = 18 cups

$.17 per cup

$2.78 for 14-ounce box = 14 cups

$.20 per cup

Generic/store brand toasted oat cereal

$1.58 for 14-ounce box = 14 cups

$.11 per cup

I don’t like spending over $3.00 for a box of cereal, but in this case, the larger 18-ounce box is less expensive per cup, so worth forking out the money. The generic brand is the best deal at 11 cents per cup. Unfortunately, my family only likes the name brand of this particular cereal.  (Yes, I’ve tried putting the off brand in the name brand box—it didn’t work!)

What about oatmeal? It is also a whole grain cereal and a favorite of my 15-year-old son. The larger containers of oatmeal are 42 ounces and they make 31 one-cup servings of cooked oatmeal.

Here’s the cost breakdown:

Name brand oatmeal

$2.98 for 31 servings

$.096 per 1 cup cooked

Generic/store brand oatmeal  

$2.24 for 31 servings

$.07 per 1 cup cooked

So, cooked oatmeal is about 7–10 cents per 1 cup bowl, an even better deal than the ready to eat cereal.  (Fortunately my family is fine with the off brand oatmeal!)

Lastly, I decided to look at prices of the instant oatmeal that comes in the individual packets:

Name brand oatmeal packets

$2.86 for 10 packets

$.286 per packet

Generic/store brand oatmeal packets

$2.00 for 10 packets

$.20 per packet

Note that the packets only make ½ cup of cooked oatmeal. (Check out our recipe for Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal Packets…kids love to make them and they will save you money.)

Even though prices have gone up, I still think cereal is a good deal. Oatmeal is the most economical choice, so I’m glad my family likes it.

-contributed by Renee Sweers

[Updated April 17, 2009
See also: Don’t be ‘trixed’ in the cereal aisle…]

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  1. Nancy Clark
    | #1

    Thanks, Renee for looking at cereal costs. Have you tried mixing the name brand and the generic brand together to see if your family would be okay with half and half. Or would that be too much cereal to purchase and use up? Just a thought and how I use to trick the kids!

  2. Renee
    | #2

    Nancy, My husband is the biggest ‘non-fan’ of the generic toasted oat cereal.. and he’s harder to trick! I do buy the generic brand of the cereal for home-made trail mix or snack mix and also for whole grain cereal treats (like crispy rice cereal treats only subsitute the toasted oat cereal).

  3. Terri Taggart
    | #3

    Thank you for the instant oatmeal tip. I would like to know how long the packages are safe and good quality in storage. Thanks.

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