Which Grocery Store is Really the Cheapest?


If you’re poor like me, every cent counts and finding the cheapest grocery stores in town is important. I decided to do a little comparative research with nearby grocery stores and let the data tell me which chain was the cheapest. I compared 29 items that I would usually buy, ranging from eggs, to chicken, to veggies, fruit, beans, pasta, etc. I recorded the prices in 5 stores- Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Bi-Lo, Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s. More info below, but here are the results.


My conclusion:

  • Harris Teeter is a bit more expensive but nice quality.
  • Food Lion is nicely priced but a little skanky.
  • Bi-Lo is expensive and silly, no thanks.
  • Wal-Mart is a huge big-box mart and may rule the world one day, but you can’t ignore their low prices.
  • Trader Joe’s is very competitive, a little more expensive, but all around better food.

I didn’t record the sale prices, but rather original prices. Some stores had better sales than the other. If you don’t see any data for that item, I didn’t see it at the store.

If you look closely, you may be surprised by some things. For example, I thought Bi-Lo was a cheap-o store, but in fact I thought it was overall the most expensive store. In some items like pineapples, broccoli and brown rice, Bi-Lo was almost double the price of other stores. Shame on you, Bi-Lo!

On the same note, I am usually anti-Wal-Mart as much as possible. I HATE shopping there. But seriously folks, look at the blue line in the chart. You will see that overall Wal-Mart is the cheaper alternative. Hate to say it, but if you’re broke, Wal-Mart just might be the way to go till ya’ get on your feet.

If you’re super anti-Wal-Mart, I think Food Lion is a nice choice. It was very competitive.

Let’s talk about Trader Joe’s. You may see that the purple line is higher or the same as the other lines. But note that a lot of their food is organic, like the wheat tortillas and strawberries for example (and often times better quality than crappy Food Lion). Some stuff was even cheaper than the other places! Trader Joe’s doesn’t necessarily give you a lot of options for each thing, but the quality is good, you know where it comes from, and it wasn’t that much more expensive. 

  Harris Teeter Food Lion Bi-Lo Wal-Mart Trader Joe’s
12 Large Eggs 1.79 1.45 1.69 1.56 1.69
Wheat Tortillas 1.99 2.49 1.99 2.07 1.83
Bl Chick. Brst. 2.49 4.99 4.99 3.33 2.99
Baby Spinach 2.99 2.39 3.99 2.98 1.99
2 lb. Carrots 1.47 1.69 2.4 1.66 1.89
2 lg. Portobellos 3.49 3.29 2.99 2.88 2.49
Bunch of Cilantro 0.6 0.5 0.69 0.84 1.69
Celery 1.99 1.49 1.79 1.46 1.79
Broccoli 2.49 1.09 2.49 1.5 1.79
Bell Pepper 1.79 0.99 1.29 1.28 1.16
Green Beans 2.69 2.69 0 3.97 0
Asparagus 3.99 0 3.99 2.98 4.99
Zucchini 1.99 2.19 3.49 2.48 2.99
Kale 0.99 1.29 1.49 0.98 0
Brussel Sprouts 2.99 0 0 0 2.49
Pineapple 4.99 2.99 4.49 2.88 0
Tomato 2.99 2.99 3.49 1.5 1.6
Sweet Potatoes 0.99 0.99 0.99 0.98 0.9
Avocado 1.99 0.79 1.69 0.68 1.29
Strawberries 4.99 0 0 2.5 4.49
Mango 1.59 0.99 1.58 1 1.69
Potatoes 0.99 0.79 1.19 0.88 1.19
Yellow Onions 0.99 0.79 1.29 0.74 1.49
Diced Tomatoes 1.35 1.19 0.89 0.63 1.49
Black Beans 0.79 0.79 1.09 0.68 0.89
Garbanzos 0.79 0.79 1.09 0.68 0.89
Solid Wt. Tuna 1.29 1 1.5 1.14 1.49
2 lb. Brown Rice 2.69 1.61 2.89 1.84 3.29
Wheat Pasta 1.5 1.69 1.49 1.23 1.99

About Ande Truman

Ande has made mistakes in the kitchen since she could reach the countertop. From a restaurant head cook, to cooking meals for friends, to her own solo plate, experimenting & learning drives her. She's also a freelance graphic & web designer, photo/videographer, guitar player and wanderlust-er. In her spare time, she works a full-time 8 to 5 cubicle job. She's the creator of Broke & Healthy.

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Categories: Finances, Shopping Tips

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There are currently 9 Comments on Which Grocery Store is Really the Cheapest?. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Can you tell us more about this? I’d care to find out some additional

  2. Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014

    I shop Walmart for food. We have two here in Greenville, North Carolina, and soon will have several Walmart Express stores. I shop mainly at the one on East 10th Street because the prices are lower overall than the prices at the Food Lion, also on 10th. I still shop at Food Lion occasionally.

    I’m on food stamps and my financial situation is roughly $8800 annually from a combination of Social Security and Supplemental Income payments so I have accomplish thrifty living.


    Rik Barnes

  3. I like to shop at all of the grocery stores and when it comes to quality, it doesn’t matter to me what the cost but I always look to see where the product that I am buying comes from and since so much is shipped from overseas, I don’t buy those products. Harris Teeter and Publix are my main stores, followed by BI-LO and Trader Joe’s. I don’t shop at Aldi or Food Lion even though they may have lower prices, most of their goods are shipped from somewhere else. I never buy canned vegetables. If I cannot buy fresh, I try to shop for frozen vegetables, and then only depending on where they are from.

  4. I buy certain things at Aldi, like fresh vegetables, milk, cereal, some canned goods, staples like flour, sugar, and realize they cannot keep everything I need, so then I go a few blocks to Walmart and get the rest.

    Hands down, Aldi is the best for the money.

  5. ALDI cheaper than all of them. Owns TRADER JOE They are private label, but give your money back (3 times for us) on items we frlt were not as good as trader joe’s.
    More then15% cheaper then WALLY WORLD. They sell in cycles, asia-one week-mexican the next- then german on and on. ALMOND MILK IS $1.00 cheaper then anywhere.
    Some things are so-so. Return and learn.

  6. If you are going to just buy, Harris Teeter is not your choice. However, if you coupon Harris Teeter is the best hands down. My grocery budget has been cut by 40% over Food Lion or Walmart.

  7. Here, Aldi is the cheapest all-around store, but it has limited selection. I still get the best prices by going to a butcher shop and produce store.
    Western Mass

  8. Excellent article! I love trader joes. Also, I have to say that the quality of store might vary from region to region. Harris Teeter in Crystal City, VA is gross. But I have been to quite a few nice Harris Teeters. I have yet to see a bad trader joes though…not to mention it is smaller and easier to get in and out of than walmart and the people are MUCH nicer but that’s mainly because they pay them well and give great benefits.

  9. Thanks Ande…you're awesome. I appreciate the data.

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