Which Grocery Store is the Cheapest?

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I am a math nerd! I sing the quadratic formula to my kids as a lullaby, we watch Donald in Mathmagicland about once per week, and I love creating spreadsheets for everything.

So, perhaps my favorite aspect of couponing is creating a price comparison sheet. Here is my step-by-step process and the results of comparing prices at four stores!

Creating a Price Comparison Sheet

The first step in creating a price comparison sheet is selecting items that you want to compare. I like to pick 20-30 items that you commonly purchase from various categories (household items, dry goods, produce, meat, frozen, and dairy).

Once you have your list of items, go to each store that you usually shop at and write down the quantity and price of each item on your list. If you plan on using this spreadsheet as a guide weekly, try to record the price of the item when it is not on sale. This way, when you find an ad or coupon for $.50 off, you can look at your spreadsheet and calculate the price.

I recorded the sale price because it helps me get an overall picture of the cost at each store since some of the stores I was comparing have “everyday low prices” and others run frequent sales.

Once you get home, it’s time to create a spreadsheet!

It is important that you are comparing similar sizes. And since this is not always possible, I like to calculate price per unit. For example, 96 diapers at store one cost $18.99, 108 at store two cost $19.77, and 168 at store three cost $34.98. The cost per diaper is $.20, $.18, and $.21 at each store respectively.

If you are a math nerd like me, you may want to go a step further and find the “overall value.” To find the overall value, we must multiply the cost per unit by a standard quantity. If we choose a standard quantity of 96 diapers then the “cost” at each store is $18.99, $17.57, and $19.99.

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Using a Price Comparison Sheet

Comparing price per unit for each item allows you to see what type of items are best to buy at each store. If one store is best for dry goods, household items, and frozen you can shop there one time per month (or every few months if you are good at planning and have the storage space). Then you can shop at the best store for produce, meat and dairy products weekly.

When I was a super-couponer, I would take my price comparison sheet to the store weekly and make any updates necessary.  Now I only update about once per year.

It is also important to note that price is not the only factor to consider. Store convenience, product selection, and product quality are all important to me. Others factors you may consider when choosing a grocery store are customer service, carry out service, payment types accepted, ability to use coupons, membership fees (such as a Sam’s Membership), and online ordering.PriceComparison2

My Findings

Based on a list of twenty five items at four stores (Kroger, Walmart, Sam’s, and Aldi), I discovered that every store is cheaper on at least one item. I discovered that, overall, Aldi is the best to shop at! However, their meat department was higher than every other store.

I purchase dairy and produce on a weekly basis. Aldi and Walmart were within twenty cents of one another in these two areas, so I would probably choose Aldi over Walmart simply due to the fact that they seem to have better quality produce.

I purchase frozen foods, meat, dry goods, and household items as needed on a monthly basis. So, I can make one trip to Sam’s and/or Walmart each month to get the items that are cheapest there.

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*This post was not intended to tell you which store will be cheapest for your family. It was merely showing you how to choose the store that will be cheapest for your family. Your family may eat totally different foods than mine, so please compare items that are on your typical grocery list. Also, item prices may vary among locations.

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No Time For Coupons

I used to be big into extreme couponing! When my husband and I first got married, I was unemployed. My husband was in graduate school and worked as a shift leader at Blockbuster until after midnight most nights. So, I spent roughly twenty hours per week reading sales ads, matching coupons to sales, and shopping at three different stores. My friends made fun of my endless stash of toothpaste and toilet paper but I was convinced that super couponing was worth the effort.

However, as our family grew and our eating habits changed I began to have a few problems with couponing:

  1. Coupons are mostly for name brand products. I can usually buy generics for the same price or cheaper than the name brand with a coupon (especially when factoring in the cost of the paper I bought to get the coupons).
  2. Coupons usually don’t cover produce, dairy products, and meat. As we have begun to eat healthier, I have begun purchasing less pre-packaged boxed and frozen foods.
  3. Couponing takes time. As a busy mom of two, I don’t have the time to go to multiple stores and spend hours cutting coupons and planning my shopping trips.

Even though I love a good deal, I gave up on couponing for three years. That is when I discovered the Ibotta app and the Kroger app.

Kroger App

I primarily shop at Kroger because it is adjacent to our apartment complex and it seems to have a decent produce department. I save time by only going shopping at one store one time per week.

I downloaded the Kroger app, which features digital coupons and the weekly ad. When I downloaded the app, I linked the app to my Kroger Plus card. Each Friday, I go through the digital coupons and simply add the ones I want to use to my Kroger card by clicking the plus sign next to the desired coupon. When I go shopping at Kroger, I just swipe my Kroger Plus card and the coupon is automatically applied to my purchase. No clipping or extra time at the register required. My favorite part of the Kroger digital coupons is that they have a Free Item Coupon that you may download each Friday and redeem up to a week later.

I know many of my readers shop at other stores, so research your grocery store to see if a similar app is available.

The Kroger App is available on iTunes and in the Google Play Store.

Ibotta

Ibotta is a rebate app. Before I go shopping, I just select the store I wish to go to and browse the available rebates. I simply click on rebates I may use, answer a survey question or watch a brief video, and unlock the rebate. When I purchase the item, I simply scan my receipt (select stores allow you to link your store purchasing card to eliminate this step). After your rebate total becomes greater than $20 you can cash out to your paypal account or get a gift card to several popular stores.

Each week, Ibotta features a few “Any Brand” rebates such as $.50 off any brand of milk, eggs, or bananas. I buy mostly generic brands, so I appreciate this feature. They also offer bonuses when you redeem a certain number of rebates. In less than one month, I earned $35 in rebates simply by buying items I would otherwise buy.

If you sign up through my link, you will receive a $10 bonus when you redeem your first rebate and I will receive $5.

What ways do you like to save money that don’t take much time or effort?