Cereal used to be an affordable solution to serving a quick and affordable breakfast, but the prices have begun to soar over the last several years. When you add milk to the equation, the cost of a simple bowl of cereal can become pretty pricey.
Saving Money on Cereal
One way to help beat spending too much on cereal is by watching prices and using coupons. A popular trend with cereal companies is to set up big promotions in grocery and drugstores where they will select several different cereal brands and promote them on two-for deals, like "2 for $5" which helps to lower the prices. But you need to watch this type of promotion and check the sizes of the boxes being promoted. Sometimes the boxes are the same height as the boxes you usually buy, but thinner with considerably fewer ounces per box.
The bottom line for getting the best deals on cereal is to compare how much you are paying per ounce. Below are some examples to consider when comparing prices. By comparing the price per ounce, you can see in this example that Kellogg's Special K is a better deal at the grocery store.
Taking advantage of store promotions will often save you a considerable amount of money per ounce. Let's say your grocery store is running the cereal on promotion for two 18-ounce boxes of cereal for $5. If you buy two, you get a total of 36 ounces. At $5 for 36 ounces, you are paying only 14 cents per ounce. Comparing the Prices of Kellogg's Special K Cereal
|Example Grocery Store Stats||Example Drugstore Stats|
|Size||18-ounce box||12-ounce box|
|Price per Box||$6.39 per box||$4.79 per box|
|Price per Ounce||36 cents per ounce||39 cents per ounce|
Using Cereal Coupons with Promotions
When using coupons with a promotion like the "two-for" example above, most supermarkets will still allow you to use two coupons towards your purchase since you are buying two items. This is one-way couponers "stack" coupons.
Here is how it would work if you had two coupons for 50 cents off Kellogg's Special and you applied them to the two for $5 promotion. Without the coupon, you are already down to 14 cents per ounce, but once you apply your two 50 cent coupons (for a total of $1 off), you will pay $4 for two 18-ounce boxes, or 11 cents per ounce! By saving your cereal coupons until you see a good sale, then combining the promotion with the coupon, you can maximize your savings.
Understanding the coupon policies at the stores where you shop can make a difference on how much you will spend. Wal-Mart, for example, will match the advertised prices of its competitors. CVS drugstore allows shoppers to use a CVS store coupon with manufacturer coupons.
Buy One Get One (BOGO) Free Deals
A common promotion that you see on cereals is "Buy One Get One Free" (BOGO). Frugal shoppers love BOGO sales and for good reason. At most stores, you can apply at least one coupon and in some stores, you can apply two coupons to the sale.
Stores like Target, for example, will allow you to apply a Target coupon and a manufacturers coupon, which can really add to the overall savings. This is also an example of when "stockpiling" makes sense if you have enough coupons saved.
Generally speaking, there is usually some rebate offer that relates to cereal. A recent rebate offered by Kellogg's was for a $10 gas card. All you had to do was send in the UPC code of 10 eligible cereal brands, and you would receive a card good for $10 worth of gas. They allowed five entries.
Finding Cereal Coupons
As you can see, grocery store promotions are only half of the equation. Bargain shoppers should also be on the lookout for cereal coupons. But where to find them? Here are some of the best places to source cereal coupons:
- The Sunday paper is still one of the best resources for finding coupons
- Sign up at the cereal company websites like Kellogg's, General Mills, and Post Foods.
- Use free printable coupon websites.
- Follow your favorite food companies on Facebook for coupons.
- Get magazines that are known for having coupons like AllYou and Good Housekeeping
Other Ways to Save on Cereal
There are other ways to save on cereal along with using coupons.
- Blending Cereals: A popular frugal trend is to blend expensive cereals with less expensive cereals. This helps cut the cost when children are "hooked" on a certain cereal. For example, if your child refuses to eat anything but Fruitloops (8.70 oz - 55 cents per ounce) you can mix it by using generic or store brand of Fruitloop-like cereal (32 ounce - 15 cents per ounce.).
- Bagged Cereals vs. Boxed Cereals: Comparing the cost per ounce of bagged cereals to boxed cereals can be a real eye-opener. The grocery stores like to keep the bagged cereals off the shelves that are eye-level. Be prepared to bend to the bottom shelves to find them. Many times you can save as much as 40 cents per ounce or more by buying bagged cereals. Again, they probably will contain less sugar, but you can always add fresh fruit which makes for a healthier meal.
- Make Your Own Granola: One of the great things about granola is how easy it is to mix your own. Not only does it cost less than store-bought granola, but you can try different varieties or tailor it to have the ingredients that you most enjoy.
By saving coupons, keeping on top of cereal promotions, utilizing rebates, and stretching your cereal with less expensive blends, you will quickly see the cost of your cereals go down.