The Big Mac used to be so cheap 20 years ago.... now, depending on where you live, you're paying an arm and a leg for the same sandwich.

These basic household items used to be so cheap twenty years ago, but today, they’re almost unaffordable.

Step into the time machine, folks, as we journey back to the year 2003, a time when the world seemed simpler, and our wallets breathed a sigh of relief. Fast forward to the present day, 2023, and it’s like we’re living in a different universe. Brace yourselves.

The Golden Era of Affordability

Ah, 2003, the good old days when grocery shopping was a joyous adventure that didn’t break the bank. Back then, our shopping carts overflowed with fresh produce, pantry staples, and treats without a second thought. We reveled in the blissful simplicity of budget-friendly meals and the knowledge that our grocery bill wouldn’t empty our pockets.

man pushing shopping cart

These days, grocery bills are through the roof!!

Grocery Shopping In 2023 Is A Nightmare

Fast forward to the present, where the winds of change have blown away our purchasing power. The once-affordable eggs and milk have become a luxury that leaves us yearning for the golden era of grocery shopping. So, what happened? Inflation, my friends. But there are other problems as well.

Shrinking Package Sizes

Perhaps you’ve noticed the sneaky tactic of downsizing? Yes, even our beloved food items have succumbed to the age-old trick of reducing package sizes while keeping the prices the same. Remember that big bag of chips you used to enjoy with friends? Now, it’s a meager shadow of its former self, leaving us craving more than just snacks—a return to the affordability of yesteryears.

The Farm-to-Fork Dilemma

As we ponder the soaring prices, let’s not forget the impact of changing agricultural practices. The rise in demand for organic, locally-sourced, and sustainable food has added extra zeros to our grocery bills. While we applaud these efforts, it’s undeniable that these healthier choices have become elusive due to their hefty price tags.

Hope on the Horizon?

Despite the gloomy picture we’ve painted, there is a silver lining. The power of collective awareness and consumer demand for affordability and fairness can bring change. By supporting local producers, advocating for fair pricing, and making informed choices, we can steer the ship back towards affordable waters. (Hopefully).

Another suggestions is starting a garden! This will save you money in produce, and it’s really dang cool seeing your veggies grow for the first time. We started one and we’ve eaten Romaine Lettuce out of our garden so far this year!

Ayla Brown's Garden

My husband and I started a garden this year. We can’t wait to eat all of the food.

Ayla Brown with lettuce from her garden

Check out the Romaine Lettuce that grew from our garden. There’s something really special about picking your own veggies from the garden. And you save a lot of money in the process!

Price Comparison from 2003 to 2023 on These 11 Basic Cheap Household Items:

  • Milk

    In 2003 the average price of a gallon of milk was $2.71. Now, the average price of a gallon of milk is $4.32 nationwide. But in Massachusetts at Stop and Shop, a gallon of milk is $4.79 and the organic brand is $7.59 for a gallon. That is WILD! Makes you want to buy a cow and learn how to milk it.

    milk carton with spilled milk

    Milk is one of the most expensive products in 2023.

  • Corn Flakes

    In 2003, a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was $2.99. A 12oz box of Corn Flakes at Stop and Shop in Massachusetts is $6.79. The worst part about cereal is that the companies put less cereal in each bag, and they charge more for it. That makes me so mad!

    corn flakes in a bowl of cereal

    Corn Flakes on the rise! Just like other food products, the amount of food in the bag got smaller and the prices for bigger.

  • Campbell's Tomato Soup

    In 2003, Campbell’s Tomato Soup was $0.34/ 10.75oz can. That number is $1.26 now. That’s a big jump in price! Even a bowl of soup is unaffordable in 2023, where 20 years ago that seemed to be the cheapest thing on the menu.

    Campbell's Tomato Soup can

    Tomato soup used to be affordable, but these days it’s expensive just to make a can of soup.

  • Coca-Cola

    Twenty years ago coke was $0.99 for a 2-Litre bottle. In 2023, the same size bottle ranges anywhere from $1.88 at Walmart to $2.79 at Target. It’s tough to throw a party these days with the rising cost of soda. Still, the 2-Litre mottle is the most cost-effective way to drink soda. A six pack of glass coke bottles are $6.99.

    coca-cola 2Liter bottle

    Coca-Cola is not cheap anymore! Check out the price spike compared to 20 years ago.

  • Hershey Bar

    A single, iconic Hershey Bar was $0.80 and today it’s $1.32. Seems like a hefty increase in something so simple. But because of the rising cost of coco, Hersey Bars had to increase their prices as well.

    Hershey bar

    In 2014, Hershey Co., the No.1 candy producer in the U.S., raised the price of its chocolate by 8 percent due to the rising cost of cocoa. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Big Mac

    A Big Mac was $2.71 in 2003, but today, that same McDonald’s Big Mac is on average $5.17. No thank you. I would rather make my own burger patties at home. But then I would be missing their famous “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh! Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh! … on a sesame seed bun!”

    Big Mac

    The Big Mac is like every other food item. Prices have increased!

  • Coffee

    An average pound of coffee in 2003 was $2.71 but today, it’s an average of $16.90. How is that possible? Seriously!! Coffee might be the highest increase out of all of the household items. According to Well + Good, the rising cost is due to supply and demand. “The rising love for good coffee worldwide makes a healthy competition out there to get access to the best. Top-quality beans are rare and, as a result, pricey.”

    If you love coffee, which many of us do, there’s no way out of this one. You’re going to have to pay for a good cup.

    Cans of Folgers coffee

    Folgers Coffee is no different than other coffee in the world. The price has increased significantly in the past 20 years. Honestly, it might be the biggest jump in price of all of the household items.

  • Eggs

    You would have paid only $1.24 for a dozen eggs back then, but today you can spend anywhere between $4 and $7 for a dozen of eggs. Also, there was an egg shortage for a while due to some sort of bird flu, so anyone who could buy eggs were paying a pretty penny for them.

    Dozen Eggs

    Eggs are expensive compared to 20 years ago. You can partly blame the egg shortage for the price hike.

  • Heinz Ketchup

    Ketchup was only $0.99 for a 24oz bottle. I don’t even think they make 24oz bottles anymore, but a 32oz of Heinz Ketchup is $4.99 for a bottle. Still, that’s a BIG increase just for some ketchup on a hotdog or hamburger. According to Heinz, the expensive ketchup is due to the fact that tomatoes are more expensive.

    heinz ketchup bottle

    Heinz Ketchup is like every other product. The price has skyrocketed over 20 years.

  • Thomas English Muffins

    $1.99 for a 12 pack is what you would have paid in 2003, but in 2023 it’s $3.92 on Walmart’s website. Not a huge spike, but it might make you want to try another breakfast option.

    thomas english muffins

    Thomas English muffins are yummy and they’ll make you full, but so will the prices at the grocery store.

  • Toro Lawn Mower

    A 16 HP Toro Lawn mower was $1,899.00 in 2003. Today, a similar lawn mower is $2,399.99. I wanted to add a non-food item to this list to show that it’s not just food that has risen in cost. EVERYTHING has risen in cost. 

    Lawn Mowers, Golf Equipment, Landscape Equipment, Irrigation | Toro

    Turn to Toro for durable, high-performance landscaping equipment that helps homeowners, lawn contractors, golf applications, and numerous other industries.

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