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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Comparing the Cost of Egg Salad to Peanut Butter

While peanut butter is a less expensive alternative to luncheon meat for a sandwich filling, there may be even cheaper options. I knew this going into March. When I began making up my grocery list, I became aware that I would have to cut a few items. So, I began brainstorming alternatives for many items on my list. At about $1.40/ 16 ounces for the cheapest peanut butter available, this was one of those items. I have mentioned that we've been using homemade bean spread this month. When using canned beans, bean spread is quick and easy to make and costs about 65 to 75 cents per pint.

Another alternative to peanut butter is egg salad. I think most of us know that egg salad is a frugal sandwich filling. Are you interested in knowing just how frugal it may or may not be? Of course, your cost per pint will be different from mine, as the prices for ingredients vary by region. However, you can use my calculations for your own comparison of peanut butter to egg salad.

I'll use large eggs in this calculation, because this is the size that is often advertised on sale this time of year, and the size which is mentioned in most egg salad recipes. The USDA has sized eggs according to weight, with a large egg weighing in at about 2 ounces. Within a carton of eggs, each weighs slightly less or more than 2 ounces, but a carton of a dozen large eggs must weigh at least 24 ounces, not including the packaging. FYI, the egg weight also includes the shell. Each large egg contains about 3.25 tablespoons of edible content, or 1.625 liquid ounces, or 50 grams boiled and peeled* (about 1.76 ounces). If you use 7 large eggs to make a batch of egg salad, the egg content of the batch would weigh about 12.32 ounces. The ingredients that are added to the chopped, boiled eggs will bring the weight of a batch of egg salad up to just over 17 ounces.

I buy mayonnaise in 1-gallon containers at Cash & Carry, an institutional supply chain that also sells to the public. I pay about $1.79 per quart. A quick Walmart search for my area says that a 30-oz jar of Great Value mayonnaise sells for $2.48. In a large batch of egg salad that uses about 7 or 8 eggs, most recipes call for 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) of mayonnaise. My Cash & Carry price for the mayo, then, is about 22 cents. The same amount of the Walmart mayo would be about 33 cents. Many recipes also call for pickle relish, prepared mustard, chopped green olives, and/or pimento. The average amount of these ingredients in a 7 or 8 egg batch of egg salad is about 3/4 to 1 ounce (1  1/2 to 2 tablespoons). The cost of these ingredients is variable. If you go with a thrifty version and use Walmart Great Value pickle relish (24-oz jar for $1.98) as your added ingredient, the cost is between 6 and 8 cents for 3/4 to 1 ounce of relish. (I make my own each summer with my vegetable garden rejects, so I estimate my cost for relish is about 2 cents.) It may be obvious that adding chopped green olives or pimentos will increase the final cost in comparison to using sweet pickle relish. (At Walmart, pimentos are 31 cents/ounce and green olives are about 20 cents/ounce.)

The 7 boiled eggs, once peeled, weigh about 12.32 ounces, the mayonnaise weighs about 4 ounces, and the extra ingredients weigh about 3/4 to 1 ounce, bringing the batch of egg salad up to 17.32 ounces.

I recently bought a 5 dozen box of large eggs at Walmart for $4.75. The cost for 7 of those eggs was 55 cents. If I add Cash & Carry mayonnaise, my cost per batch rises to 77 cents. However, this month I was out of mayonnaise. So I substituted homemade, plain yogurt blended with a bit of mustard, vegetable oil, salt, and curry powder. I estimate that my homemade blend for this batch of egg salad was about 13 cents. I also added about 2 tablespoons of homemade relish, at a cost of about 2 cents. My cost for a batch of egg salad was about 70 cents. (If I had mayonnaise, my cost per batch would still only be about 79 cents.) So, 65 to 73 cents for 16 ounces of egg salad, compared to $1.40 for 16 ounces of peanut butter. Egg salad was nearly half the cost of peanut butter, making peanut butter an easy target for the axe from my shopping list.

For someone without access to an institutional supply store and without homemade pickle relish or yogurt, instead shopping at Walmart for all of the ingredients, the cost for 16 ounces of egg salad would be about 87 to 89 cents.

The cheapest peanut butter at Walmart this week is the 64-oz jar of Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter, at $6.44, or $1.59 for 16 ounces (452.5 g). So, about 95 cents for egg salad compared with $1.59 for peanut butter. The egg salad is still less expensive by weight than peanut butter.

So, that's a pound for pound comparison. There is also the consideration of how much egg salad is used per sandwich compared to peanut butter. I don't use the serving size of 2 tablespoons but use about 2  1/2 tablespoons (40 g/ 1.41 oz) of peanut butter per sandwich. With egg salad, I use roughly 2 ounces of egg salad per sandwich (the amount of about 3/4 of a boiled egg combined with extra ingredients). So for me, the filling for a peanut butter sandwich costs about 12 cents, whereas the filling for an egg salad sandwich costs about 8 - 9 cents. If I bought all of the ingredients for egg salad at Walmart, my cost per sandwich would rise to 10 - 11 cents each. Skipping the peanut butter and making egg salad was still the less expensive option, but only by a small amount per serving.

Going into my calculations, I thought for certain that egg salad would be a huge savings over peanut butter. And it is, if measured by weight for each, but not so much when considering my usage. Because we tend to use so much more egg salad per sandwich than peanut butter, the savings (even when figuring in my homemade ingredients) were small. However, our family does use bean spread in comparable amounts to peanut butter. So bean spread at 65 to 75 cents per 16 ounces is about half the actual, per sandwich cost of peanut butter. Considering that a batch of egg salad takes me about 15 minutes of hands-on time, but a batch of beans spread takes about 5 minutes of hands-on time, I'll be sticking to bean spread for the most part, adding in egg salad every now and then for variety. When preparing so many foods for my family from scratch, I am all about saving time as well as money.

We will buy peanut butter again, when the budget allows for it, as it is a food that we enjoy. Enjoying what we eat is important, too!

By the way, if you're looking for a couple of good bean spread recipes, the cookbook Laurel's Kitchen has a few.

Here is a modified hummus recipe. You can skip the sesame seeds, but they do add a nice flavor to the spread.

And here is a modified recipe from Laurel's Kitchen for her Zippy Soybean Spread. I use cooked soybeans in a version similar to this recipe, but I omit the vinegar. I use garlic powder in place of fresh, and omit the green pepper and celery when I don't have it, but this is a good use for celery leaves that you might not otherwise use. I use vegetable oil in place of olive oil, and I use more than 1 tablespoon, probably closer to 3 or 4 tablespoons. I add salt to taste.

And here is my own loose recipe for black bean sandwich spread. Four ingredients: cooked black beans, salsa, oil, and salt.

Over to you -- is egg salad significantly cheaper for you than peanut butter, given the prices for ingredients which are local to you?

information on egg sizing and liquid usable weight of large eggs is from
*weight of peeled, boiled egg from Joy of Baking


  1. Thank you for the bean spread recipe. For dinner tonight, we had leftover curry stew with only carrots and potatoes remaining, so we took out frozen bean patties to eat with the meatless stew. It went so well with the curry, in fact, it was better than beef.

    I looked at my grocery spreadsheet and found peanut butter priced at .07/oz, or 1.18/16oz (Costco January w/coupon, 7.09/96oz). Based on the Skippy's label, 96 oz = 168 T, or .042/T or 10.5c/2.5 T. Maybe my math is incorrect, or the label is not giving the correct number of T/oz.

    As for comparing with egg salad, not even close. The cost of one egg locally is at least 20 cents, so my egg salad would cost more than 2x your 8 cents per egg.

    When I want to save on groceries, eating less is my strategy to save, especially when dining out. Better for my health too.


    1. Hi YHF,
      I revised my post with calculations. My use of about 2.5 tablespoons of PB gives 11.31 servings of PB per 16 oz. So, for your price of $1.18/16 oz, 2.5 tablespoons should come out to about 10.4 cents/serving.

      With your egg prices, egg salad would definitely be more expensive, if you used as much egg salad as I do, likely about 17 to 20 cents/serving.

      Ha ha! I could probably lose a couple of pounds. That money-saving strategy doesn't work for the rest of my family, though, as they all need to keep their weight up.

  2. Wow. What a thorough analysis, as always. I may have been confused, but were you comparing fluid ounces of the egg salad with net weight ounces of the peanut butter? Not sure that would make much difference because the take away was that bean spread is a good alternative to both.

    Also, did you see that a recent study said that eating lots of eggs may not be as harmless as they have thought for years now. Who knows where the truth lies? As with most things, I'm going to go for the "everything in moderation approach." Which may mean some cut backs for my family as a hardboiled egg is an inexpensive good source of protein for them.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I actually thought about this in the night and revised my calculations/measurements this morning, using gram weight of boiled eggs. Egg salad is still not the huge money-saver that I had hoped it would be.

      I saw that study. I'm not sure anyone knows yet what the ideal diet is. Moderation and variety of natural foods is about the best option any of us have for now. According to the article by USA Today, the study is still not conclusive, only showing an association, not a cause and effect. I think there are more variables, such as genetic history, foods which are displaced by egg consumption, what other whole foods a person might be consuming, and even the atmosphere surrounding food consumption. One of the studies that my daughter read about during her eating disorder treatment concerned atmosphere and mood while eating. It appears that stress can decrease nutrient absorption, and enjoyment during mealtime can increase nutrient absorption. However, if my cholesterol test indicated that I had high amounts of unhealthy cholesterol in my blood, I would lighten-up my diet and eliminate some of the eggs, or the egg yolks. But I would take other measures to improve cholesterol, too.

      It's a good thing that beans are so cheap and that my family enjoys them/doesn't have issues with them.

  3. Wow, thanks for taking the time to break that all down! I've never heard of making sandwiches using a bean spread, actually, I've never heard of bean spread. I'm in central PA and our deli sells a sandwich spread which is bologna ground fine with pickles and mayo added. My MIL used to make her own, it was fairly cheap - although not the healthiest quick meal option. I love hard boiled eggs, I eat them during the day at work for a quick snack or energy boost (i'm an accountant - I need that at this time of the year!).

    Have a great weekend!


    1. Hi Shelby,
      oh, I can imagine that you are very busy right about now! Eggs do make a great protein boost. Do you like the texture of hummus? If that is something that you enjoy, you might also enjoy a sandwich spread made from beans. We think it's good.

      I have never heard of a bologna sandwich spread. My mom used to make deviled ham with ground ham. Maybe that is very similar.

      Have a great weekend, too, Shelby!

  4. I also have never heard of bean spread. Would making homemade mayonnaise help on those days you don't have any in the house? I have made it before and it's quite good. The only drawback is the raw egg. How about any leftover meat--chicken, beef, pork--ground or chopped and made into a meat sandwich? My son makes tortilla wraps for all of his lunches. He uses whatever he can find in the fridge--chicken, ham, dijon, honey mustard, leftover frozen peas, peppers, onions and mixes it all in a large bowl. He then seasons it with salt and pepper and wraps them in big tortillas. He freezes them all and takes them to work. He says they thaw quite well and tastes very good. He likes egg salad as well but he doesn't freeze those.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm still considering homemade mayonnaise. I know there must be recipes for cooked-yolk versions. I'm fussy and won't eat uncooked eggs. For now, the plain yogurt is working pretty well. It doesn't taste like mayonnaise, but the texture is just right and flavor blends well in egg salad. We haven't tried it in tuna salad yet, though.

      Your son's leftover wraps sound tasty and a great way to use up leftovers. A great suggestion to use chopped, leftover meats in a spread. My mom used to make deviled ham, which was quite tasty.

  5. When my family was trying to figure this out we found an article on Len Penzo dot com that rates the average cost of different sandwiches and makes a spreadsheet of them. He does it every year to update the list to current costs.

    1. Hi there,
      Thank you for the link. This is an interesting cost breakdown. He lists turkey together with Swiss cheese as a sandwich combination. I don't know if turkey and Swiss is a standard combo, but if it were me, and I had lots of leftover turkey after roasting a whole bird, I would make just turkey sandwiches, with mayo and mustard, and that would drive the cost of that sandwich into the more affordable tier. I guess I already knew that BLTs were not an economical option, sadly, as that's one of my favorites. Thanks for the link to the article.


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