A large component of every household budget is grocery shopping. No matter where you shop, there are simple ways to make sure you’re getting the best value for your dollar.
Cereal is often a go to item for a quick breakfast, but it can contain a lot of sugar children don’t need.
"This [chocolate-chip like cereal] is a cereal that most kids would like and often we think of just the price of that box. This is $1.99 for this box; it's a high sugar cereal. If you calculated per pound, that would come to 2.81 per pound,” said Edie Sutton, an educator with the Purdue Extension. “We'll look at another cereal [a store brand equivalent to Honey Nut Cheerios]. Again a cereal that kids would like. The price for this one is $1.59 for the box, when we calculate how much it is per pound, it calculates to $2.08, making it a financially better purchase than the other one. Also the sugar content is not nearly as high, so you're spending less money on a more nutrient dense food."
Milk prices can vary widely, but the average price is between $2.49 and $2.79 however there are other ways to save instead of just hunting for a bargain.
"It really doesn't matter if you purchase a name brand or store brand milk. They all are healthy dairy product. We'll be using a lot of [milk] during the holiday season for baking. A way to save money instead of using milk is to use the dry milk,” said Sutton. "This [box] will save you about $5 because this box will make 32 cups of milk.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends most people eat at least two cups of fruit every day, but some have argued fresh fruit is too expensive, Sutton disagrees.
“When we look at the whole bag of oranges, three pounds is $2.29, making it 76-cents per pound, isn't a bad buy. Another option would be to get canned mandarin oranges. These are about 80-cents per pound, so a little bit more. They have added sugar, so you're spending a little more money for less nutrients. Another option is to get the mandarin oranges in orange gel. The more processed the food is, typically the more expensive it will be,” said Sutton. “The final choice, which many kids love are the fruit flavored roll-ups. Again it's highly processed. When you read the ingredient the first ingredient is going to be sugar. This is $6 a pound. No one would say they're getting a great buy if their oranges cost $6 a pound."
Finally, grains are an important part of a balanced diet, but making the right choice when selecting bread can also be the right choice for your wallet.
“Half of all the grains we should have in a day should be whole. This price at 99-cents for this loaf of bread, however when you compare it to other breads it may not be that good,” explained Sutton. "Lets look at this loaf, for $1.69 it is whole grain. I look at the first ingredient that's on the label and it says whole grain, versus the first ingredient in this bread is enriched flour. Even though this bread is a little more expensive, whole grain fills you up more, so with two slices of bread you're going to feel much more full than when you have two slices of the other bread, making it not that good of a purchase."
Sutton advises people to look at an item’s price per ounce. Sometimes a smaller or larger box of an item may be a better value than what you normally purchase.