It used to be you could go to the grocery store, pick up a carton of eggs and not really have to think too much about the difference between the varieties available. There were typically just one or two brands and sometimes one would be on sale. But these days, there's a lot more to think about — from nutritional quality and how the animals are treated, to simply how much that carton of eggs costs.
No worries. We’re here to arm you with the information you need to make the best decisions for selecting eggs that fit your budget and your lifestyle.
Inspect your eggs
No matter what kind of eggs you end up selecting, it’s always important to ensure you get your money’s worth by opening the carton and lifting every egg from its divot to ensure it isn’t broken. And do your fellow shoppers a favor: Don’t just put the carton with broken eggs back in the stack. Set it aside or give it to an employee to dispose of.
Always look for sales ...
Different brands of eggs go on sale periodically at most grocery stores, so it’s wise if you’re looking to save as much as possible to check out which of your local stores may have your preferred kind on sale. Stock up if it’s a really good discount as eggs have a relatively long shelf life and are highly versatile.
... & coupons
A simple Google search for “egg coupon” will generate some savings options for your next shopping trip. Of course, egg brands vary by region, so not all may be available in your area, but it’s worth a simple online search for store coupons that offer a savings of 50 cents or more per dozen eggs.
Size doesn’t matter
From a cost perspective, size really doesn’t matter much when it comes to getting the best value from your eggs. In most cases, you’re getting roughly the same price per ounce regardless of whether you buy small, medium, large or extra large eggs. It’s really a matter of preference – do you like one big egg versus two for breakfast?
How to buy the cheapest eggs
To start, there are conventional eggs, also commonly known as “battery eggs.” Unless you grew up on a farm or near one, you probably ate these eggs for most of your childhood and beyond.
Raising hens in cages, or “batteries,” became a common industry practice in the mid-20th Century. It was like the Industrial Revolution for the egg industry, allowing farmers to produce multiple more eggs in a smaller space than they could with previous farming methods.
Today, these are typically the cheapest eggs you can buy. But they also come from hens that lived their lives inside cages and have never set foot on solid ground. While the practice is still widely used in the United States, it is something a growing number of Americans don't want to support. The practice was banned in Europe in 2013.
If you're looking for something other than battery eggs, but still want to save money, your best option is probably to ...
Find a local farmer
You’re probably not going to find inexpensive eggs at your local farmer’s market if you have one, but you may be able to find a local farmer or neighbor who raises chickens and will give you a good deal.
For example, I have a neighbor down the street who has more eggs than he can use and sells a dozen for $2. That’s just slightly more than the national average retail price of $1.77 for eggs in January of this year. Keep in mind, though, that these chickens roam free, grazing on grasses, grubs and other bugs, and getting only supplemental feed when necessary.
Just remember, most eggs purchased in a grocery store are sanitized, but the farm or yard eggs you buy probably won’t be, so you’ll want to wash them before use.
Of course, buying from a local raiser isn’t an option for everyone. Your next cheapest option is to ...
Cage-free eggs are basically exactly what they sound like and have become the most commonly found eggs available today in the U.S. supermarket. The hens aren’t kept confined to small cages, but they aren’t exactly allowed to roam free, either. Cage-free hens typically live their lives in a barn with hundreds of other hens and don't go outside. This practice allows farmers to keep costs lower while ensuring their hens have somewhat better lives than those living on battery farms.
On average, you’ll pay a dollar or so more for cage-free eggs than for battery eggs, but the nutritional value is virtually the same.
If money is no object ...
Beyond cage-free, there are other options, such as organic (they’re fed only organic feed), vegetarian (they’re fed no meat or meat byproducts), free-range (they get to spend some time outside) and pasture-raised.
Eggs that come from pasture-raised hens tend to be the most expensive on the market – $6 to $8 per dozen in some regions – because the production costs are higher. These hens graze in fields, eating their personal preference of bugs, grasses and other chicken delicacies. These eggs have been shown to have higher concentrations of certain nutrients in some studies, and generally come with yolks of a deep yellow to orange color as a result.
Want more grocery bill hacks? Here are some tips on how to save on meat.