Would You Pay $9 For A Bag Of Chips? Answer: You Probably Already Have

vending machine, frugal eating, saving money on food
I almost always bring my own lunch with me to work. I take a short break and read the news online while I eat at my desk, then dive back into work. It allows me to go home sooner, and saves me money vs going somewhere for lunch each day. But every now and then, the mid-day hunger pains are extra strong and I hit the vending machines for a bag of chips.

I had one of these days recently, and ended up buying a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos for $1. A few moments later the bag was empty. I didn’t feel like I got a dollar’s worth of chips. Plus, I remembered I had Cool Ranch Doritos at home that I could have just brought with me instead of plugging cash into the vending machine. I wondered just how much more expensive per ounce my bag of chips from the vending machine was compared to my large bag I had at home.

I decided to do a little comparison.

The vending machine bag of chips was 1.75 ounces for $1, or about $0.57 an once.

When I got home, I took a look at the party size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos I purchased from Walmart. The bag contained 15.5 ounces, and cost $3.99, which works out to just under $0.27 cents per ounce.

Looking at it another way, the party size bag contains 8.86 vending machine bags of chips. Which means if I paid vending machine price for the large bag of Doritos, it would cost me $8.86.

There’s no way I’d pay almost $9 for a bag of chips. No. Freaking. Way.

But that’s exactly what I’m doing over time when I buy chips from the vending machine. What I’ll be doing from now on is to put some chips in a plastic container and including them with my lunch. If I don’t eat them, I’ll just bring them back home.

Obviously what I’m paying for is the extra packaging, and the convenience of not having to remember to bring my own chips. Sure, it’s less convenient to have to portion out some chips and put them in a plastic container (Hey, I AM watching my calorie intake as well!), but it’s even more inconvenient to have less money in my wallet because I overpaid for things like chips.

Do you buy things from a vending machine? Would you pay $9 for a bag of chips?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I used to occasionally buy stuff from the vending machine, but about a year ago they did a straight across-the-board 25 cents per item increase. Not 30 or 40 cents for larger items and 10 or 15 for lesser priced items. Nope, 25 cents, no matter what. I don’t know why, but it rubbed me the wrong way, and I was so incensed that I vowed not to buy out of that machine anymore…and I haven’t!

  • Excellent points! I always like reading about how to save money by buying in bulk. I wonder what the same bag would cost at Costco? It’s time for me to start comparison shopping for some things we regularly buy at our house.

    Nutella is an expensive product, for example. I’ve noticed that one small jar at Safeway costs about as much as two large ones at Costco. I’m now going to check out the cost per ounce and see what a ripoff the smaller one is.

  • I can’t remember the last time I bought anything from a vending machine. Like a kid, the allure wasn’t ever convenience for me, I just liked punching buttons and getting a thing dispensed. Luckily it was always obvious that was expensive entertainment.

  • Vending machines, convenience stores, restaurants…wherever I’m buying those single serve bags of chips, I’m paying too much. And then I’m usually still hungry.
    I will occasionally pick something up single serve for convenience, and while I knew I was paying extra, I didn’t think about the per serving cost compared to larger versions.

  • I rarely buy things like chips at all, but even more rare is buying a small bag. Like you said, they’re gone almost instantly. (Also, I miss the old version of Cool Ranch! The chips are much thinner now. It’s not the same. Sigh.)

    Working from home means I’m rarely around vending machines. Which is probably a good thing. In high school, I was addicted to Black Forest Gummy bears!

  • @MoneyBeagle – Yeah, they just recently upped all the prices at our vending machines too. $1 for a can of pop……which turns out to be $12 a twelve back, or $24 a case. Uh…no thanks!

  • @Aaron – comparison shopping is always a good idea – especially with Costco as they have some great bulk deals (some products actually turn out to be more expensive, just in a bigger container though). Thanks for reading!

  • @Emily – sometimes convenience IS worth paying for. But I don’t think hitting the vending machines at work (at least for me) is one of them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • @Abigail – OMG…..the vending machine at work has Black Forest fruit snacks…they have a liquid center that rocks my face. I’ve spent a few bucks on those…lol.

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