How Much Did Groceries Cost in the 1980s?

paper bag I grew up in the 1980s, so I remember perming and teasing my hair, wearing rubber bracelets and neon belts and the birth of hole-y jeans. What I don’t remember is how much groceries cost. I was, after all a teenager, obsessed with myself, my friends and the price of a movie or the latest record or cassette. Wasn’t it the “me” era, anyway?

Now that I am an adult, a wife and a mom, I am more obsessed with our budget. I have all sorts of grocery prices in my head, from the cost of bread to how often tuna goes on sale. I thought it would be fun to look back and compare the prices of some different grocery items.

Let’s take a typical kid’s lunch made up of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk.

In 1980, you could get a loaf of wonder bread for about 50 cents. Do you remember how easily a slice of that wonder white bread could turn into a squishy ball of sponge?

In 1980, you could buy a half gallon of whole milk (no one drank 2 percent or skim in those days, did they?) for 85 cents. Check out my earlier blog, How Much Did You Pay for Milk Last Year to compare.

In 1980, you could buy a jar of Skippy peanut butter for $1.49. Was there any other brand to buy back then? There must have been, although I don’t remember it.

In 1980, you could buy a jar of strawberry jam for $1.39. Yes, I know most people use grape jelly, but in my household, we go for the exotic taste of strawberry, blackberry and apricot jam. Living not too far from Lancaster (Amish country), today I often buy homemade jams and jellies. But that is far from my life in New York City in the 1980s.

What do you remember about the 1980s?

Would you like to see more blog entries about how much things cost long ago?

Related Articles:

The Egg Price Report

How Much Did You Pay for Milk Last Year?

How to Save Money on Bread

Frugal Food: Saving Money on Pizza

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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT or visit her personal blog