Save On Cereal With This One Weird Old Tip

Cereal is, in many ways, the people’s food. It’s easy to prepare, utterly satisfying, and, though charged with being a breakfast food, it is suitable for lunch, dinner, and even dessert (it’s truly a 24/7 food product). Cereal is staggering in its versatility: in a bowl with milk (duh), as gorp, mixed with melted marshmallows and turned into treats, eaten straight out of the box during Sunday night TV. It even, arguably, has a nice range in healthiness: your Special Ks and Grape-Nuts are heartily at the bottom of the food pyramid, while your your Captain Crunches and Apple Jacks hang out at the top.

But there is one thing keeping cereal from claiming its place as a true food of and for the people: price. This stuff is ridiculously expensive. A standard, major-brand box can go for $3 to $6 a box. Even the knock-offs (your Nutty Nuggets, Golden Puffs, Krusty O’s, and Cinnamon Toasters, which we all know just isn’t the same) usually only goes for a dollar less! Bulk packaging is available, of course, but variety is the spice of life! A lifetime supply of Oat O’s does not a fulfilling diet make. 

But: I have a tip for keeping you in your cereal habit, even if you don’t have cash to burn. Before I moved to New York my mother gave me lots of advice I conveniently forgot, but I remembered one thing she said that has proven to be most useful. She told me: “Lindsey, always buy cereal in drugstores.” That’s right: Rite Aids and Duane Reades and Walgreens aren’t merely for prescription meds and late night Pringles, they are also your number one resource for CHEAP BRAND NAME CEREAL. You heard me: In a drugstore, cereal is always on sale.

I’ve brought cereal boxes to bars before, because I just couldn’t help stopping into the CVS to see if they had my favorite brands on sale (and also: I wanted a snack).  My roommate calls me a cereal hoarder, but he just doesn’t understand the deals I’m getting. Plus: Cereal doesn’t (really) go bad! Stale cereal is just as edible as a freshly ripped-open bag. I’m basically running an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with the amounts of Corn Flakes and Bran Krisps I hoard.

The drugstore is your friend, fellow cereal lover. It’s a way for even the most broke of us to keep our shelves in boxes of sugar and fortified-vitamins. Two-for-one deals are especially common, in my experience, which means you’ll be getting your beloved Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms and Special K with Berries for around $2 each. That’s a price for the people. (You usually have to sign up for the loyalty card or whatever the heck, but you should do this anyway.)

 

Lindsey Weber likes cereal. 

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48 Comments / Post A Comment

kellyography (#250)

What Duane Reade do you go to? In my experience, drugstore cereal always comes in a much smaller box for the same price as mainstream grocers, which is why I buy pretty much all my groceries at Target. They have, admittedly, upped their cereal prices a little bit in the past couple years, but they are still way cheaper than any drugstore prices I’ve seen. Now I want to go to the Duane Reade and CVS by my work and compare the same size/brand cereals to my last Target receipt.

@kellyography I was thinking the same thing! Duane Reade’s food pricing is so high!

@kellyography My best bets are usually Rite Aid & CVS.

selenana (#673)

This article begs for the Willy Wonka quote: Do you have any idea what breakfast cereal’s made of? It’s those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners.”

cabochon (#1,601)

Fabulous information! I will be checking this out at Walgreens this weekend (there seems to be one on every block in the city where I live).

DickensianCat (#971)

I work within walking distance of a Duane Reade, a Rite Aid, and a CVS, so I’ll have to compare, but yeah, I can’t imagine the cereal prices are better than at Target or the family run grocery store in my BK neighborhood.

I never leave a Duane Reade feeling like I haven’t been robbed, no matter what I’m getting. CVS is okay, and I would be a bigger fan of Rite Aid if it weren’t for the fact that every Manhattan one I’ve been to is horribly understaffed with long lines and unpacked boxes chilling out in the middle of the aisles so you can’t access the shelves.

I doubt you can get cereal at Bed Bath and Beyond (…yet), but I do know that’s the place to go for cheap toiletries and travel sized items.

sarrible (#1,545)

@DickensianCat The Bed Bath & Beyond on Sixth Avenue has a food section, but it’s mostly organic stuff, so they probably have, like, Healthy-O’s, but not Rice Chex.

I’m not sure if “cereal is cheaper at drugstores” is a real thing, because I can’t fathom any reason WHY it would be cheaper there than, say, Walmart, Target, a grocery store, etc. Maybe it is! But if so, why?

lindseykai (#1,544)

@John C. Calhoun@twitter I think this tip only applies to New York, where people shop at overpriced corner stores out of convenience. Now, at my Midwestern grocery store, there’s almost always a deal where I can get 6 boxes of cereal for $2 each, plus a coupon for a free gallon of milk and a dozen eggs on my next visit. (Not living in New York is awesome.)

@lindseykai Yes, this is very true. This applies to NYC, as it’s the advice my mother gave me when I moved here. I am very envious of your cheap cereal–as well as your cheap other things.

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@John C. Calhoun@twitter Maybe they use it as a loss leader?

@John C. Calhoun@twitter This for sure also applies to Chicago, though that still doesn’t tell us why.

Megano! (#124)

I’m pretty sure in Canada Walmart is the cheapest place to get cereal.

@Megano! I always find Cheerios and Shreddies on sale at London Drugs

hershmire (#695)

Am I the only one grossed out by most cereals?

cherrispryte (#19)

@cdarcy I’m not a big fan of cereal myself, either, but I wouldn’t say I’m grossed out?

@cdarcy no! i cannot imagine anything grosser to eat for breakfast, especially once it gets soggy. yuck.

Genghis Khat (#584)

@cdarcy I do not like cereal. I only eat it when I’m too poor to afford any other food because they give it to us for free at work. Cereal on your two fifteens and your thirty is totally a day’s worth of eating!

hershmire (#695)

@mirror_father_mirror Nothing says “breakfast” like stale HFCS rice balls in milk.

@cdarcy WHAAA

shannowhamo (#845)

@cdarcy While I don’t hold anything against it for being full of HFCS (I’m whatever the opposite of a “whole foods” person is, a half fooder?) I really don’t “get” cereal, never have. I can eat a couple dry handfulls if I’m desperate but never have I ever really dug into a big soggy bowl.

KatNotCat (#766)

I rarely buy cereal because I even more rarely finish an entire box. I’ll get so excited about having Puffins or something again and then always end up vaguely disappointed. Even with Puffins, the best cereal!

@KatNotCat omg PEANUT BUTTER PUFFINS (never on sale)

Fred Meyer has them on sale all the time! This is what you get for not living in Portland.

shannowhamo (#845)

@KatNotCat Puffins are SO good but I do the same thing, get really into and it eat it like crazy and then I have a half full box of Puffins just chillin’ forever (for some reason the last box ended up in the trunk of my car for months.)

Jimmy Kibble (#1,603)

This is so true, and nobody ever believes me when I tell them! It’s so true that I even created an account to register my agreement.

Maybe cereal’s cheaper at a drugstore than a corner store, but nothing beats my local Safeway when they’ve got a special on. Honey Bunches of Oats for $1.88 a box! (The full-size box, too.)

Dinosaur_Senior (#1,526)

If you have a DR card, you can usually get 2 big boxes of Cheerios or Special K for $6, which I think is a steal. I’m a cereal hoarder as well!

Dancercise (#94)

Man, now I really want cereal.

You had me at Jason Segel, although I’m not sure this is actually true here in the land of supermarkets (CVS is weirdly expensive with everything else so I have a hard time imagining it’s a deal on cereal). But your callout of Nutty Nuggets (well played) reminds me of my beloved Trader Joe’s Joe’s O’s, which are legit better than Cheerios. In fact, Trader Joe’s brand knockoffs tend to all be better than the originals. Suck it, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! Suck it, places that don’t have TJ’s! Eat all of our shirts.

yankeepeach (#276)

@beatricks@twitter Oh yes! Joe’s Os are almost always $1.99 for gigantic box and deeply and truly yummy. Ditto the Joe’s Honey Os. TJs is the knock of king of all food. Truly.

oldflame (#1,553)

Cereal is, not exaggerating, at least 60% of my diet and I have been telling people this for years! In Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart has way better deals than Lawtons Drugstore and often even has milk on sale. When is milk ever on sale?! And also ice cream. These are the things I buy at the drugstore. Everything else at the drugstore is overpriced.

I also live downtown in a small city with no car and no easy way to get to the other big box stores people are quoting like Walmart or Costco. I would love to buy a couple months worth of every brand I like and hoard it (mmm, preservatives), but I’m not carrying that shit on the bus for an hour to get it home.

@Beatricks It is weird but true — CVS always has amazing deals on cereal, even outside of New York (I once got a box of Special K for $2.)

Don’t sleep on the Trader Joe’s brand cereals! Fruity O’s are the best and way better for you than Froot Loops.

pizza (#599)

I buy my cereal off Amazon. You have to buy 4 boxes at a time, but it comes out to be about $3 a box for a Kashi cereal I often see for around $5/box (in nyc). I also enjoy not carrying cereal home with me on the subway.

@pizza Damn I feel like you just busted this thing wiiiide open

@pizza and OMG you can SUBSCRIBE and they will send you your cereal on a monthly basis??

cryptolect (#1,135)

@pizza I was just going to comment to promote Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. I used to get all my cereal this way and it was super-cheap, plus I never ran out of cereal. (Nothing is worse than running out of the food you eat to get the energy to go outside.) Then they stopped selling the two varieties of breakfast cereal I like (Grape-Nuts Trail Mix Crunch and Great Grains), so it’s back to the supermarket for me.

pizza (#599)

@cryptolect I buy so many things on that subscribe and save. It’s great that you can sign up for that and cancel right after one purchase.

Malt-o-meal cereal in a bag! I’m not sure I would have been able to keep myself adequately fed in college without cheap Marshmallow Mateys and Mini-Spooners, both of which are, frankly, superior to the name brand versions.

@Lorelei@twitter Bagged cereal really is underrated. It looks all generic-y and stupid on the outside, segregated into its own section usually… but my wife and I get it all the time because it’s something like 1/4 the cost of boxed cereal per ounce, and it’s just as tasty. Oat Blenders rule and doesn’t actually have that much sugar in it.

ImASadGiraffe (#982)

My CVS has boxes of cereal on sale a lot. It’s never the ones I want though. And I usually want Cocoa Krispies.

Now I’m going to have to check this out. The two Walgreens closest to work have fairly large food sections, but they are both on the first floor of luxury condo buildings, so that might not work here.

Mal*Pal (#1,597)

Haha, Cereal at CVS here in the Forests of Connecticut (aka 90 percent of the state) is twice as much as in our good old 24 hr Wally World. Stop and Shop usually has decent sales and you get sick gas points when you shop there.

May I suggest these fine flavors?
http://xkcd.com/27/
(Nope. Still can never get the links to work.)

“Autumn Wheat” is cereal perfection.

rcmann (#1,616)

Discount stores like Big Lots and Ollie’s are also excellent for cheap cereal. In addition to the regular fare, they often carry test market items that didn’t make it in the real world, leading to entertainment as well as deliciousness. My favorite find so far has been “Keepers,” a standard Lucky Charms-type cereal with fish and worm-shaped marshmallows. It was touted as “The Official Cereal of the Children’s Bassmaster Championship” on the box.

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