How Much Groceries Cost in 1990 Vs Now

Monica Gray - August 6, 2023

With the dawning of the internet and a questionable fashion sense, the 1990s were the start of the world of modern technology as we know it. The pioneering of independent films and gene therapy trials paved the way for impressive advancements in technology. If you talk to your parents, they’ll probably tell you how much cheaper things were back then, thanks to inflation and the rising cost of groceries. We can take a look at certain items and trends, and compare them to their prices thirty years ago. It was certainly a different world back then.

Economic factors, including COVID, the war in Ukraine, and droughts made the perfect recipe for increased prices. Things might get worse before they get better, and we could expect another rise in food items before it levels out. Maybe it’s time we stock up on all those cans of beans so we get them for a cheaper price. You’ll probably wish you could go back in time and purchase some of these items as they were in the 1990s.

Food and Mood Creation


Flour, a fundamental ingredient for baking cakes and bread, is cherished for its versatility and culinary performance; however, its accessibility does not come without a price. Over the years, the cost of flour has exhibited noteworthy fluctuations, with a 20% increase in 2022 alone, resulting in approximately 40 cents added to the price of each 5 lbs bag compared to 2021, culminating in an approximate cost of $3.00 per bag in 2023. This significant price surge over three decades has significant implications for both the baking industry and consumers, as it contributes to higher production costs and, subsequently, elevated prices for baked goods, such as the popular loaf of sourdough, which may now command a price exceeding ten dollars. The escalating cost of flour underscores the intricate dynamics of the supply chain and market forces in the baking industry, emphasizing how seemingly mundane ingredients can profoundly impact our daily lives and culinary indulgences. (SF Standard).



If you’ve recently gone to the grocery store, you were probably shocked to find the current price of vine tomatoes. The prices have quadrupled in recent years. Back in 1990, the price of a pound of tomatoes was a mere 70 cents. Nowadays, it’s more than $2.50. Some grocery stores don’t even want to sell tomatoes because of how expensive they are. Grocery store owner Crane said, “There are supply chain issues, as in there isn’t enough to go around. It’s all to do with price. It’s been like it for six or seven weeks. All prices across the board have risen.” Maybe it’s time you start that backyard garden (The Guardian).



The history of sugar reveals a fluctuating price trajectory over the past several decades, shaped by various influential factors such as weather conditions, alternative sweeteners, and supply and demand dynamics. In 1990, sugar was priced at $0.40 per pound, but by 2023, its cost had roughly doubled, reaching around $0.80 per pound. Throughout the 1990s, sugar experienced a rollercoaster ride of price variations, but it has ultimately settled at nearly twice the price it was back then. Despite this increase, sugar remains relatively affordable in comparison to other commodities, providing some relief to consumers. (Winton).

Manchester Engine


There’s nothing like a good slab of butter on your morning toast. Back in the 1990s, it was a lot more affordable to eat butter, and you could eat twice as much for the same price back then. In 1990, it cost $1.50 per pound, but now, it costs roughly $3.50 per pound. There’s even one grocery store in the UK where butter costs about ten bucks per pack. It’s probably a good thing it costs a bit more since it’ll deter us from overusing that delicious, creamy fat (Homework).



Over the course of several decades, the price of this delectable citrus fruit has experienced fluctuations. In the 1990s, it was priced at approximately $1.07 per pound, and by 2023, the cost had risen to about $2 per pound, nearly doubling in price. In 2018, it reached a peak of nearly $2.50 per pound. Notably, during 2021, Mexico emerged as the leading producer and exporter of lemons, closely followed by Argentina, solidifying their prominent positions in the global lemon market. (Statista).


Snack Chips

There’s nothing like a late-night bag of chips to munch on. Back in the 1990s, it was a lot more affordable to eat those chips, when they cost roughly $1.50. Nowadays, that same bag of chips is nearly double in price, at $3.00 to $4.00 – some report that a bag of chips is even up to $5.00. It’s probably a good thing the price has doubled since this isn’t necessarily something we should eat every day. Those junk-food addicts can thank inflation for the increased prices (IDS Water).


Ice Cream

There’s nothing more delicious than digging your spoon into a pint of ice cream after a hard day at work. Ice cream pairs well with wine, movies, and date nights. Unfortunately, it was a lot cheaper to buy ice cream back in 1990, when it cost about $1.00 to $2.00. Now, you’re looking at roughly $4.00. You might feel a bit of nostalgia at those summers spent in the 1990s with dollar ice cream cones. It’s a different world now (Daily Mail).



Rice stands as one of the most versatile staples, seamlessly complementing a myriad of dishes, ranging from curries and soups to delightful desserts, making it a popular and accessible food choice for people worldwide. However, while its adaptability remains constant, the cost of rice has experienced some changes over the years. In 1990, rice was priced at an affordable $0.50 per pound, whereas today, it stands at approximately $0.73 per pound. Although there has been an increase in price since 1990, it has not surged as dramatically as some other food items on this list, making rice a relatively stable and economical choice for daily consumption. (In 2013 Dollars).


Frozen Pizza

As one of the easiest and quickest dinners in the world, frozen pizza is one of the most readily available foods. All you have to do is chuck it in the oven, wait, and you have a delicious meal right in front of your eyes. Plop a few vegetables on top and you have a nourishing meal. But back in 1990, frozen pizza was a lot cheaper than what it is nowadays. It cost roughly $3.50 back then, and now, it’s about double that at $7.00. That frozen food became a multi-million dollar business in only a few decades. Not only did it provide a reprieve from cooking, but it was affordable (CNBC).



Cupboards across the world are stacked with a variety of cereals, from sugary marshmallow puffs to nutritious whole wheat pieces Back in 1990, cereal was cheaper and cost about $2.00. Nowadays, you’re looking at double that, roughly $4.00. If you want a healthier option like granola, it could cost up to $6.00 per box. Today, if cereal costs as much as it used to, we’d be eating a lot more of it (Money).

Finances Online


Discovering an affordable bottle of wine that seems like a treasure is undoubtedly a joyous moment. However, when examining the overall trend of wine prices over the years, it becomes evident that it has undergone a significant escalation, nearly tripling in cost. In 1990, a bottle of wine was priced at approximately $5.00, while presently, it commands a price of around $12.00 per bottle. Such a substantial increase reflects the evolving market dynamics and factors influencing wine production and distribution. Presently, finding wine priced below $5.00 is a rarity, limited mostly to regions like Argentina or Spain, where favorable conditions contribute to more budget-friendly offerings.(Wine Searcher).

Cookie Classy


Once considered one of the most budget-friendly groceries, bread has seen a notable increase in price over the years. In 1990, a pound of bread cost merely $0.70, but accounting for inflation, the current cost ranges from $2 to $4 per pound, depending on the type of bread. Although the increase may not appear substantial at first glance, it does signify a gradual rise in expense over time. Moreover, premium and higher-quality bread varieties can now cost more than ten dollars per loaf, further highlighting the impact on consumer budgets. Perhaps this trend towards higher prices may encourage some individuals to consider reducing their carb intake and opt for healthier dietary choices. (Data Hub).


You’d think something that grows on trees wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Think again. Back in 1990, oranges cost $.57 per pound. Now, they cost around $1.17 per pound. Even though it’s not a ridiculous increase, it still means that with inflation, the prices of organic will keep increasing. This is bad news for those citrus-loving munchers, especially if you’re trying to buy a bottle of orange juice. For some reason, oranges in their juice form cost tons more money, at roughly $7 per bottle. We’ll stick to the oranges (The Guardian).



Grilled chicken, a timeless and wholesome dinner option, has remained a popular choice for its simplicity and nutritional value for decades. Merely placing a chicken breast on the grill, coating it in olive oil, and serving it to your family creates a satisfying and healthy meal. However, the cost of this beloved protein has experienced a significant increase over time. In 1990, a pound of chicken breast cost approximately $1.50, whereas presently, it commands a price of around $3.50 per pound. This noticeable surge in price reflects changing economic factors and supply chain dynamics, affecting the affordability of this once budget-friendly dinner staple. (ONS).



As much as we love cheese, we know we need to buy it in moderation thanks to its hefty price tag. But that doesn’t stop us from enjoying a good slice of cheddar now and again, though back in 1990 we could enjoy it way more often. Back then, it cost roughly $3.50 per pound. Nowadays, it costs more than $5.50 per pound. Expect to pay more for higher-quality cheese. If you want better taste, you better get your wallet ready (UK News).



Indeed, the cost of soda has seen a noticeable increase over the years, making it a more expensive indulgence compared to its past affordability. In 1990, a bottle of soda would set you back around $1.00, whereas today, the price has doubled, amounting to approximately $2.00 per bottle. Similarly, purchasing a can of Coke from a vending machine was remarkably cheaper in the 90s, ranging from 25 to 40 cents. However, with the rise in price, many individuals might be dissuaded from consuming excessive amounts of this sugary treat, prompting a more mindful approach to their beverage choices. (Reddit).



While the days of those nostalgic glass bottles of milk may be behind us, the availability of milk remains plentiful. However, the cost has seen a significant increase over the years. In 1990, a gallon of milk cost approximately $2.48, whereas nowadays, you can expect to pay around $4.82 for the same quantity. Furthermore, opting for organic milk can further elevate the price. Despite the price rise, milk continues to be a staple in many households, cherished for its nutritional value and versatility in various recipes.(US Inflation Calculator).



Considering how available bananas are around the world, it comes as no surprise that they’re one of the most affordable groceries out there. Back in 1990, it cost about $0.30 to buy bananas, whereas now it costs $0.70. But that still means bananas are around 51.74 percent higher than they were three decades ago (In 2013 Dollars).



Back in the good old days, eggs used to be affordable and convenient. You could buy a dozen eggs for about $1 back in 1990. Now, you’re looking at about $4.25 for a dozen eggs. We’re looking at sky-high egg prices in modern times. NYC-based junior economist Andrei Rjedkin said, “The cost of [chicken] feed – namely corn and soybeans – have increased 18.9% and 13%, respectively, from 2021 to 2022.” And that was only in recent years. If we look at the trend from 1990, those prices have sky-rocketed. This was partially due to a chicken farm wipe due to the bird flu, which killed a lot of chickens (Fox Business).



Back in 1990, you could find yogurt for $0.50 at the store. Now, it costs about $1.00. At some point in time, yogurt took over the dairy sale, where it was once only taking up a sliver of counter space at the grocery store. For Americans, yogurt is a staple snack food that’s quick, relatively affordable, and easy. It’s used around the world in a variety of dishes and doesn’t take any prep or time to cook. We’re also living in an era of plant-based yogurt, which took time for people to catch on to. Frank Palontoni, VP of Dannon, said, “Americans have a very limited receptivity of their palate to new flavors. You will eventually develop your palate and it will get more sophisticated.” It’s very similar to the way we sample wine (Vox).

Hashtag Paid


Back in the 90s, it was easy to munch on a bag of cheap Doritos. It cost about $0.75 for a 2.1/8-ounce bag. Now, if you want that same bag, it costs $1.48. Gone are the days when that bag of Doritos cost less than a dollar. It’s nearly doubled that now. They used flavor as a science experiment to develop the tastiest bag of chips in the world, and it worked. Whether they were trying out BBQ flavor or extra hot, they had a target audience for every sort of flavor (Hashtag Paid).

The Grocer


Just because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, doesn’t mean it’s cheap to buy. Back in 1990, apples cost $0.72/lb. Now, they cost about $1.30/lb. The apples used to be the favorite fruit of the Romans. Now, we’re seeing more demand and variety than ever before. Whether you love Granny Smith or Red Delicious, chances are, you’re a daily apple eater like the rest of the world (Newint).



You’d think the cost of water wouldn’t increase, but that’s not true. As with everything, inflation causes an increase over time. Back in 1990, a gallon of water cost $0.80, and in 2023, it costs about $1.50. This is partly due to the number of droughts seen across the USA, in California specifically. And it’s because supplies are shrinking, demand is growing, and the population is increasing. Let’s hope clean drinking water doesn’t become a scarcity one day (LA Times).

Glasgow Live

Chocolate Bars

Back in the good old days, you could get a bar of chocolate for 50 cents. All you had to do was pop into that corner store and grab a bar. Now, you’re paying at least $1.25 for chocolate, and even more if you’re getting premium dark chocolate. Those nostalgic childhood chocolates have soared in cost. Since the 90s, they’ve increased by 153%. Maybe we’ll keep chocolate as a once-in-a-blue-moon treat (Glasgow Live).



Just as with everything else on this list, beef has also increased in price since the 90s. In 1990, beef cost $2.81/lb, and in 2023, it cost roughly $4.35/lb. This is all thanks to supply and demand. There are also many more options for beef nowadays, like organic beef and grass-fed beef, which will be more expensive than normal beef. Still, there’s nothing like a juicy slab of beef after a hard day at work (In 2013 Dollars).

Soup Du Jour


Potatoes, a timeless dietary staple, have stood the test of time. However, the price of this versatile vegetable has undergone a remarkable increase over the years. In 1990, 10 pounds of potatoes were available for the budget-friendly price of $3.38, providing sustenance for families for weeks. Fast forward to the present day, and a 10 lb bag of potatoes costs around $7.50, signifying a substantial rise in price. Although potatoes remain relatively affordable, the current cost is approximately 166% higher than it was thirty years ago, reminding us of the significant economic changes that have occurred over time. (In 2013 Dollars).

Investigate Midwest


Thirty years ago, you could buy a pound of pork for $2.13. Now, you can buy that same pound of pork for $3.41. Hog farms changed drastically since the 1990s, thanks to supply and demand. Prices for feed and water also increased, which caused an increase in the price of meat. Carolyn Dimitri, professor of nutrition and food studies in New York said, “(Hog farms) are large, and because they’re large, they can take advantage of economies of scale. That seems to be what the industry looks like now.” Depending on where the farm is around the state, prices vary (Investigate Midwest).

Credit: Bon Apetit


Coffee is consumed around the world. Thirty years ago, it used to be a lot cheaper than it is now. You could buy coffee for around $3.50 per pound in 1990, whereas today you’re spending about $28 per pound. That’s a ridiculously high jump, and it’s over 700 percent higher now than it was thirty years ago. To put it into perspective, in 1994 you could get a Starbucks coffee for $1.25, now it’s more than triple that price. We’ll stick to making coffee at home (The Commons Cafe).


Peanut Butter

If you’re buying organic, peanut butter is one of the most expensive, delicious processed foods. In 1990, you could buy peanut butter for $1.50, whereas now you’re spending between $3.00 to $8.00 depending on if you’re buying Skippy’s or organic. The cost of peanut butter has increased so much, it’s forcing some food banks to switch to cheese instead. This is partially due to a severe drought in peanut-producing states like Georgia. The good news is that it’s cheap and easy to make your peanut butter. All you need is a blender and roasted peanuts (LA Times).

The Big Issue


Quenching the thirst on hot summer days with a refreshing six-pack of beer is a beloved tradition. However, the cost of this leisurely beverage has experienced a notable increase over time. In 1990, a six-pack of beer was priced at $4.00, yet in 2023, it surged to $9.00, marking a significant rise in price. The trend of higher beer prices was observed globally, especially after the COVID pandemic when bars reopened and demand escalated. This increase serves as a reminder of the evolving economic landscape and its influence on the cost of everyday indulgences.(Big Issue).


Corn Flakes

As one of the oldest cereals in the world, Corn Flakes has seen the shelves of millions of Americans during the past several decades. Back in 1990, you could buy a box of Corn Flakes for $1.56. Nowadays, you’re looking at $2.73 for that same box. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has seen an evolution much like all the other foods on this list. Even though it’s an icon of American culture, it doesn’t mean the price will stay the same (Money Not Money).



You could buy a pound of lettuce in 1990 for $0.60/lb. Now, you’re buying that same pound of lettuce for $1.24/lb. Weather-related events, diseases, drought, and poor growing conditions affected the price of lettuce, which is why we’re seeing an increase. The California crop disease negatively impacted the lettuce supply and forced prices around the country to rise. Fruit and vegetable analyst Almuhanad Melhim said, “high incidence of virus infection that has affected the crop pretty significantly in some fields. That led to really low supply and low quality of lettuce.” Again, this is another vegetable that’s probably better for you to grow in your backyard than buy in the store (CNN).

Wales Online


Pasta, as one of the most satisfying and economical dinner choices globally, continues to grace the tables of families worldwide. However, its affordability has been impacted by inflation over the years. In 1990, a pound of pasta cost merely $0.80, while in 2023, it has risen to around $1.50 per pound. This translates to an overall increase of approximately 60 percent in pasta prices compared to three decades ago. Despite its prevalence as a common household item, pasta remains susceptible to the effects of inflation, reminding us of the broader economic forces influencing the cost of everyday essentials. (Wales Online).



Indeed, a delectable peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a timeless delight. Over the years, the price of a jar of jelly has experienced an increase, with a cost of $1.50 in 1990 rising to $2.50 in 2023. This noticeable price surge may prompt some to consider homemade alternatives for their jelly, just as they do with peanut butter. Making jelly from scratch not only offers potential cost savings but also provides the opportunity to customize flavors and ensure a more satisfying taste. The satisfaction of crafting a homemade spread adds an extra layer of enjoyment to this classic sandwich, making it a delightful and budget-friendly option. (Market Lavington Museum).