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Is it cheaper to make trail mix or to buy it?

Is it cheaper to make your own trail mix?

For years, I have wondered if it’s cheaper to:

a) make my own trail mix with Aldi ingredients


b) buy the pre-mixed Aldi trail mix

A bag of Aldi trail mix.

If I didn’t have a blog, I’d probably just spend the rest of my life wondering.

But since I do have a blog, I have a reason to figure out detailed stuff like this.

Aldi trail mix, spread out in a pan.

I bought a bag of Aldi trail mix, dumped it out onto a sheet pan, separated out each component, and weighed it.

Nuts in a kitchen scale.

This was a boring job, which is why I put some earbuds in.
Kristen wearing earbuds.

Pre-made Trail Mix Weights

Here are the weights of the items in the trail mix.

  • Raisins: 10 ounces
  • Peanuts: 7 ounces
  • M&Ms: 6 ounces
  • Almonds: 3.5 ounces
  • Cashews: 1 ounce (this is not a very cashew-heavy mix!)

Trail Mix Ingredients (Aldi prices)

I bought all the trail mix ingredients at Aldi, and here’s how those prices break down.

Trail mix ingredients on a countertop.

Raisins: $0.14/oz

Peanuts: $0.12/oz

M&Ms: $0.27/oz

Almonds: $0.35/oz

Cashews: $0.43/oz (This explains why there are so few cashews in the mix!)

Pre-made Trail Mix Prices per ounce

M&Ms in a kitchen scale.

The price of the pre-packaged trail mix goes like this:

10 ounces raisins: $1.40

7 ounces peanuts: $0.84

6 ounces M&Ms: $1.62 (the priciest ingredient)

3.5 ounces almonds: $1.22

1 ounce cashews: $0.43

Cost Results

The DIY version adds up to $5.51.

And a bag of the pre-mixed trail mix costs $4.89!

So, the pre-made trail mix is actually cheaper than making your own.

Who knew??

Of course, there are ways that you could make this mix more cheaply. 

  • M&Ms are not a great price at Aldi (this is true of most brand name products at Aldi); by buying seasonal ones after a holiday, you could easily cut the price of the M&Ms by more than half. 
  • You could use chocolate chips instead of M&Ms, since they’re far cheaper per ounce.
  • You could opt to make your mix without cashews, since they’re the most expensive per ounce.
  • You could buy nuts from Costco and probably get a lower price on something like bulk almonds.

But the point of this post is: if you are buying all the ingredients at Aldi, it’s actually cheaper to buy this particular mix ready-made.

If you’d like to try making your own, though, here are the cup measurements of what was in the Aldi bag.

Aldi Trail Mix

Aldi Trail Mix

Yield: 5 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups peanuts
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup cashews


  1. Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.


This makes an exact replica of Aldi's Mountain trail mix. If you can get M&Ms cheaply, or if you use chocolate chips, this is cheaper to DIY. But if you buy all the ingredients at Aldi, it's cheaper to buy the premade mix!

P.S. If you liked this post, here’s a list of other price comparisons I’ve done!

Other Comparisons

A compilation of my detailed price comparison posts for your perusal.


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Monday 27th of November 2023

I can appreciate why you would do these experiments. But, honestly, this is exactly why so many people will not commit to super saving--big waste of time unless one is already spending a lot on any one product. Especially when the differential was less than a dollar for the trail mix. To me, you didn't factor in the time it took to do all this weighing, buying, etc. THAT was time in your life that perhaps, I say perhaps because it is your life to assign your time to, might have been better used elsewhere.

Long ago, someone very wise told me that time was our greatest commodity and that while focusing on prudent use of whatever fiscal resources we had was essential, most of us would fail miserably and squander our "free" time (the equivalent of our disposable income.)--something you literally cannot buy or replace.

From then on, I looked carefully at how I was spending both my time and my money. And I had to make decisions about how much I was really saving. When resources are limited, you have no choice but to cook all the time at home (although NOT necessarily cheaper depending on number of people cooking for, etc.), clean your house and do any/all chores because there simply was no alternative.

But as I moved ahead in my job, with more demanding work and longer hours (and yes, a better salary), I realized that having food delivered, hiring someone to clean and getting groceries delivered, for a few examples, was a better use of my then very limited free time. When it was a choice of cooking or shopping or cleaning, and I could get in a nap or sleep a bit later, or spend more time with friends and family, that's what I did.

I don't mean to criticize but I do think one can overthink expenses.

I remember telling a friend, bragging actually, that I had found much cheaper prices for some snacks that I was enamored of at the time. My friend looked at me and said: Well, imagine how much more you'd save if you didn't eat them. Not to mention how much better it would be for your health. I was gobsmacked. She was so right. It was so obvious that I had to laugh at how I had missed the boat entirely on conscious spending!

FYI: I am not comparing your trail mix to my prepackaged (and no way else to get them) snack favorites.

I had to remind myself of this over the years. Especially when I would see two-fer offers for fresh foods, dairy and poultry and stock up. It took a lot of weeks of ending up tossing stuff (freezer was packed; regular fridge, no big garage size ones in city apt!) out because I never had the time to cook and no space to freeze.

I went through a period of a lot of takeout and delivery. And I tracked that money. Given that I usually got two dinners and one lunch worth of food out of whatever I ordered (and often more, as I did freeze), it saved me both precious time and money.

One afternoon, I started scribbling down what I spent on takeout versus cost of the ingredients. (I did an online comparison of prices.) SPent maybe an hour tops. I, too, found that given this is a one-person household, it was "cheaper" to get takeout, albeit being selective.

This is no longer quite as valid given the escalation in takeout/delivery of restaurant food in our neighborhoods but then again, the increase in grocery ingredients is also way up, up, up. I only work part time now and have somewhat more time. My health is such that I don't have a lot of energy and have had to factor that into things as well.

In the end though, we must consider the time we spend (shopping, planning, prepping, cooking, etc.) and assign a value to that as well. Is it always the better / best use of our times to do cost-cutting experiments? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

But I love your commitment to conscious spending (this is how I think of it and how it motivates me and makes me NOT feel deprived or punished) and your experiments. And I love this blog because it makes me THINK about how I live and what I choose. Always a good thing.


Monday 27th of November 2023

I see your point, certainly! From a time perspective alone, this was a silly little project. But since I write posts not just for myself, but for others, and since part of what I do is try to provide entertainment, I decided this was worth my time.

I definitely do not suggest that everyone do things like this. Generally, I think it's fine to just do guesstimates of things and be satisfied with "close enough is good enough".

Fru-gal Lisa

Sunday 26th of November 2023

Thanks for the info! This reminds me of some of the articles in the old Tightwad Gazette book....which is now available online as a pdf, and I believe it is free. (Although if you have to print it, the ink and paper aren't so free...)

Kris S

Saturday 25th of November 2023

I've never done an exact cost comparison, although it does sound right up my alley!

I have been making my own trail mix for years, especially after my kids grew up and left home, because neither my husband nor I care for raisins. He'll eat them although he won't be excited about it, but I can't deal with raisins! I'm the will pick the raisins out of a oatmeal raisin cookie rather than accidentally bite a raisin kind of person! By making my own trail mix I never have to deal with a stray raisin sneaking into my mouth!

Linda Phillips

Saturday 25th of November 2023

We don't have Aldi's where I live but, we have WinCo. WinCo has a bulk section where you can purchase just the amount you need from bins. I compared Safeway Trail Mix $9.99 for 30 oz. with WinCo. I'm not nerdy enough to determine the percentage of each ingredient, I averaged the cost of Peanuts, M&Ms, Raisins, and Almonds. It came to 23 cents/ oz. My version saved me $3.09, and I got a higher quality product since the ration of Safeway's mix isn't 25% each. PS I visited SC, NC and TN last year. I saw a Aldi store and pulled over to tour the store, taking pictures of the products and prices that were unbelievably low to me.


Saturday 25th of November 2023

I would not normally be nerdy enough either! But sometimes Blogger Kristen does things that Regular Kristen wouldn't bother to do. Heh.


Saturday 25th of November 2023

Thanks for this. I've wondered about the trailmix cost but not to the point of doing all the work. A sort of hidden benefit I like from buying premixed ones is occassionally raiding the mix for something I want to try in a recipe but don't usually buy, like dried cranberries for a new salad recipe the other day.


Saturday 25th of November 2023

@Ringo, Once in the course of raiding a bag of trailmix for pecan pieces, I realized I couldn't tell them apart from walnut pieces. I had to look for photos online! And I still couldn't do it without constantly consulting those photos, lol, so I tossed them both into whatever recipe I was trying and couldn't taste the difference either. Weird things you learn while 'cooking'.

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