Where do you shop for groceries? And why? Do you shop there because it has the best (cheapest) prices? Do you shop there because it feels safe? Do you shop there because it offers the brands that you love and trust? Has your shopping experience changed over the years?
Back in the days before kids we ate out…a LOT. I love to cook but I love to take time to enjoy good food made by professionals even more. When children entered the picture, we learned we needed to eat more at home. I would love to say it was because we wanted to be healthy and exemplify good eating habits but really it was because eating out with young children is difficult. I’ve struggled over the years with finding a balance of menu planning and grocery shopping. Usually it is 3PM, I realize I have nothing of substance for dinner, so I run to the grocery store and pick up meat, spaghetti and sauce. BOOM! Dinner.
As we’ve added to our family we’ve also added to our expenses and I have found my time is limited. I have become more conscience of our grocery bill and don’t want to shop all over town to buy food for my family. I notice so many other families struggle with the same thing. Based on a conversation on Facebook, I decided to do a shopping comparison of four different local stores with the same shopping list and compared prices, items availability and ease of shopping experience.
When I created my shopping list, I chose items that my family buys often but also tried to think of a few items other families purchase. I have listed pricing for organic/natural vs mainstream meats, fresh vs frozen fish, organic vs non-organic produce. I used name brand products (Kraft, Sargento, Oscar Meyer, etc) because most stores carry these items. If the store did not, I priced out the closest product they did offer. I also took the price offered based on any type of member card but did not use any bulk buying discounts (Buy 10 of these items for $1, Buy 2 boxes and get one free, etc). I then calculated the cost of a mainstream grocery list and an organic list to see if the stores compared.
Some things to keep in mind…these are the stores I shop at in my part of Dallas. There are other grocery store options out there that I considered in this shopping comparison but in the end here are my reasons for choosing the four that I did. These are the store I enjoy shopping at, I know them, I feel safe shopping at them, I know I can usually find all of my necessities at them. I wanted mainstream stores that offered a variety of items that I have heard other friends shop at.
There is an Albertson’s literally right down the road from me but based on my own experience and experiences of others, I do not shop there regularly. I also know lots of families that shop at Trader Joe’s, Central Market and Whole Foods. I do love to shop at these stores, but they usually do not offer all of the items that I am looking for in my weekly shopping, like the brand of toilet paper or shaving cream that my family prefers. I also know many friends who love to shop at Costco, Sam’s or even shop online through Amazon. For us, we do not have a lot of storage space, so as much as I love warehouse shopping…I have no place to put everything. With online shopping, again, I cannot purchase produce and meat and so I opted to skip this in this comparison.
Here are some things I have learned.
Tom Thumb – 5809 East Lovers Lane, across from Central Market. This has been my ‘home store’ for months now. I feel it offers a large selection of organic fruits & vegetables, their butchers are the most helpful and the store offers a large selection of items. I mean….look at this rice selection alone!
Walmart Super Center – 6185 Retail Road. This Walmart is big and provides a lot of one-stop-shop experience for the busy family, but the grocery section seems small in comparison to the rest of the store. The organic selection is almost obsolete and they do not offer a butcher/fish counter.
Super Target – 6419 Skillman Street. This Target compares to Walmart Super Center in the one-stop-shop experience but the grocery section is larger and provides healthier options throughout the grocery section. The service and ease of shopping tends to make this my favorite place to take the kids or to run in quickly for something.
Kroger – 10677 East Northwest Highway. This store has a decent selection of organic fruits & vegetables. It offers a good variety of items throughout the store. Over the years, this store has grown on me with their addition of a natural food section, bigger produce section and store layout.
What I see in my shopping comparison
Kroger gives you the most bang for your buck when it comes to shopping mainstream OR organic! That was so surprising. Walmart was cheaper, but did not have organic/natural options available for five items. Super Target was the most expensive store based on both lists. (Can I just say….I was REALLY shocked by all of this?!?)
Meat: Kroger offers the cheapest meat overall. They just started carrying a larger selection of meat and I think this has helped their pricing. Target appears to be the highest priced meat and Walmart doesn’t offer a great selection of natural/organic meats.
Produce: Walmart offers the lowest priced produce, but again, it is hard to find anything organic in this section. If it is organic, it is usually bulk/prepackaged priced. Target would be my choice for buying a wide variety of organic produce at a low price.Tom Thumb, with it’s large organic selection, also carries a large price tag.
Staples/shelf items: Target offers the best value for your money for items like peanut butter, bread, canned food, rice, etc. Tom Thumb again offers the highest pricing for these types of items, but usually offers a larger variety.
Household products (soap, paper goods & diapers): Here is where Tom Thumb comes ahead and offers the least expensive items than the other stores and Target is the most expensive. However, this section is deceiving because as you can see, toilet paper and paper towels are packaged in different quantities for almost all the stores.
So I want to know…Where do you shop? Will you change your shopping habits based on any of this information? What do you see in the shopping list that I missed? I would love to hear how you manage your grocery bill or how this has helped you. Do you have suggestions on another shopping comparison I can do in the future? Please share your wisdom below.