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Frugal Family: Where to Find the Cheapest Groceries

Price comparison at four local stores.

Prices are creeping up for everything, and groceries are no exception.  This week, I did a price check at four local stores in an attempt to figure out which store was cheapest. 

For my comparison, I went to the Memorial Drive Publix, Hairston Road Kroger, Rockbridge Road Ingles, and the Save A Lot on Memorial Drive.  I priced out five common items to see how the stores compared.  All items listed are the store  brand, non-sale price.  Here are the results:

Publix:

100% whole wheat bread: $1.69

1 gallon 1% milk: $3.19

1 dozen large eggs: $1.59

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast: $4.39

1 lb. red delicious apples: $1.79

 

Kroger:

100% whole wheat bread: $1.59

1 gallon 1% milk: $3.18

1 dozen large eggs: $1.59

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast: $4.99

1 lb. red delicious apples: $1.58

 

Ingles

100% whole wheat bread: $1.88

1 gallon 1% milk: $2.75

1 dozen large eggs: $1.59

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast: $4.46

1 lb. red delicious apples: $1.68

 

Save A Lot:

Wheat bread (100% whole wheat was not available): $1.29

1 gallon 1% milk: $2.59

1 dozen large eggs: $1.49

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast: N/A - they only had wings, thighs, legs, and whole chickens available

1 lb. red delicious apples: $0.99

 

The results?  Kroger, Publix, and Ingles are fairly close in price, when not considering sales or coupons.  However, Ingles and Kroger both have store discount cards available to customers.  At Ingles, bread ($1.50) and chicken ($1.98) were both on sale this week.  At Kroger, milk ($2.98) and chicken ($2.99) were on sale with the card, and Publix had apples on sale ($1.49 - "no card needed").  Save a Lot was considerably cheaper than the three big chains, but they didn't have all of the items.  For the items they did have, the selection was smaller (about 4 choices for bread instead of a whole aisle of brands and flavors, for example).  But, if they have what you need or you're willing to be flexible with brands, it may be a good place to save a little cash.  My best advice: read the sale circulars and shop accordingly.

If you buy a lot of produce, you may want to consider checking the DeKalb County Farmer's Market or the Buford Highway Farmer's Market.  They both tend to have large selections and good prices.  For example, I was pricing items for a fruit salad I needed for a potluck last weekend. Publix wanted $10 for a fresh pineapple that was peeled and cored, and $5 for a fresh whole pineapple ("do the work yourself"). I passed on both and went to the DeKalb County Farmer's Market, where all pineapples were $2.99, whole or peeled and cored.  Most grocery stores raise the price in relation to how much they handle a product (a whole watermelon is less per pound than half a watermelon, which is less per pound than a cubed watermelon, for example).  At the farmer's market, it's the same price no matter how you buy it --- a good thing for smaller families to keep in mind.

Then, consider coupons.  Ingles will double coupons up to 50 cents, as long as this doesn't exceed the price of the item (i.e., they won't "pay you" to take something).  You can double three coupons for each $10 purchase, and you can use up to two of each coupon.

Kroger doubles coupons up to 50 cents, as long as you have a "plus" card. Publix also doubles coupons up to 50 cents. Publix and Kroger both offer a 5% senior discount on Wednesdays, too.

One final bit of advice: As I'm sure you're aware, gas prices are skyrocketing.  Keep in mind that with your Kroger plus card, every time you spend $100 on groceries at the store, you can save 10 cents a gallon on one fill-up at the Shell station.

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