Do You Know Where to Shop to Get the Most For Your Money?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In a recent IBM study, about three-fourths of the consumers interviewed revealed they still want quality and nutrition along with value when making food purchases during these more difficult financial times. The Braun research group conducted 4,000 telephone interviews with people across the United States from all income levels. Of those 4,000 people interviewed, almost half are now shopping at multiple stores to find the best deals. A third of the respondents indicated they have changed supermarkets to save money as well. Many expressed willingness to reduce spending on prepared foods, individual serving beverages, and clothing but not on meats or poultry. When the recession ends, about 60% expect to continue shopping for the best deal.

Where are they finding the best deals?

Over the summer, the McMillan/Doolittle consulting company conducted a grocery pricing survey in Chicago. The intent was to see if advertised price reductions allowed certain supermarkets to become more competitive. They also evaluated if popular supercenters and discount chains were as price beneficial as many believe and if store brands were the way to go to save money. Surveyors visited Safeway-owned Dominick's, SuperValue-owned Jewel, Target and Wal-Mart in Naperville, Ill outside of Chicago to do their study. Here is a summary of what they found.

If you prefer everyday brand names and specialty items, Target is the place to visit especially if it is the same distance away as Wal-Mart. On average, you will find them slightly lower than Wal-Mart but equally as price competitive. Both were found to be significantly less than supermarkets, which were 20-25% more than either of the discount stores.

If you prefer private or store labels, Wal-Mart is your low price leader. Since store brands can vary in quality, size and ingredients, it is always important to look a little deeper than price alone to be sure it is the best deal for you and your family. When looking for rock bottom prices, Aldi is the place to shop because they beat out Wal-Marts lower priced store brands. If you are interested in natural and organic foods for the best price, Trader Joe's beats out Whole Foods and many of their store brands are competitive with many mainstream grocers as well.

So, while many people believe Wal-Mart is the low price leader, Target is now giving them a run for their money. At the same time, Aldi and Trader Joe's are other cost leaders that might be worth checking out as you strive to get the most savings to feed your family well on a budget during these tougher financial times.

Did you find any of these results surprising? Do you shop at multiple stores to make the most of your shopping budget? Where have you found the best savings?

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Because of the economic times and because I am now a senior citizen living on a fixed income, I have resumed my former practices to shop wisely and to utilize coupons, sales and a variety of lessons learned from my mother and mother-in-law.

I'd like to share some of these lessons learned:

1. Purchase a WHOLE Chicken and cut it up yourself; what you don't use (depending on your family size) freeze for a another meal.

2. Purchase a 7-Bone Roast. Have the butcher grind part of it for LEAN ground beef; another portion for stew meat and another portion for STEAK.

If you have an outlet store PURCHASE day old bread. Freeze it and use it whenever you want.

Nowadays, I find that since the grocery stores NO LONGER double the coupons, I can purchase items on sale at Target for a lower price.

One final suggestion, purchase DAY OLD or what is considered damaged fruits and vegetables -- use what you can by removing certain parts and you'll find it to be just as nourishing as the more costly fresh fruits and vegetables. Report
Never heard of Trader Joes or Whole foods or costco, but I go to Aldis for most of my produce in winter, farmers market in other seasons :smaller footprint, organic and keeps money local!

Boycott to walmart due to the scourging of the area . Most people are not aware that walmart has mostly imoported things, each community pays for walmart to go in: your tax dollars pay for their tax break, implementation of utilities, road inlets,etc... they brag about how much they donate to the community:a few thousand dollars every once in awhile,, they make that in a second!!
there is a wonderful documentary on pbs that tells how they affect each community they invade.. that is why the owners are the wealthiest people in the U.S!!! Our community learned the hard way, but when they tried to put in a SECOND store, everyone worked to keep it out to save teh thousands of acres of farmers land that they wanted to buy and strip to their store needs, again telling our city that we would pay for their utilities, taxes, roadwork,etc..

Warehouse clubs are not worth it to me:Krogers doubles up to dollar coupons, has lots of BOGO's, sells local produce and baked goods..
used to belong to Pace/Sams, but they upped their membership dues and their prices were usually more than local stores,after coupons..
We use only local, family owned meat markets and bakeries to keep the footprint small and $$ in our families pockets, not to mention jobs! Report
great tips, thank you Report
I typically shop at Aldi's, Wal-Mart, or Target. There are no Super Targets around, so their dry goods and frozen foods are a great deal. Typically my boyfriend picks up food at Target, since he works there, but we go to Wal-Mart and Aldi's for whatever we can't get at his store. Also, Target has Target coupons online that you can print out and use with manufacturer coupons also. I do know that Target is cheaper than Wal-Mart as I can get pasta sauce (name brand) for $1.49 at Target and $1.89 at Wal-Mart. I do wish I could buy store brand, as it would be cheaper, but I have broken out in hives several times after eating different store brand's pasta sauce. Report
I generally try to buy most stuff at Aldis. There are some things they don't have, though. For laundry soap and tissue paper products I go to the dollar store as Wal-mart has went up! Cat food I get a Wal-Mart or Schnooks (Purina Indoor formula, my babies are PICKY). Meat and I get at Thriftway and also look there for sales on produce. Im always paying attention to weight and quantity/price per ounce or unit as that is the bottom line! Report
i find myself looking through our local paper for the offer sheets and then spend most of my time walking rom 1 shop to another to try to save the most money when doing my weekly shop. Report
I hate the quality of typical grocery store packaged faire, so I'm a Whole-Foods/Trader Joe's fan. I agree, Whole Foods costs more, but like Meijer compared to Walmart, you can't compare the selection that Whole Foods provides. If I have to choose between Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, I go to Whole Foods. If I have time, I go to Trader Joe's first. If I can't make it to either one (45 min away), then I go to Meijer: they are on the ball with their selection of store-brand organics! If it's produce you are looking for, you aren't going to find anything beyond iceburg and macintosh at Walmart or Aldi's. If it's packaged food you are looking for....wait, aren't you eating better? What the H are you doing in Walmart or Aldi's? Report
I don't know what Target they were shopping at but the ones here in Pensacola, Florida certainly don't come close to having the low prices that the SuperWalmart stores have on food.
I heard the joke about Whole Foods is the name of the store is really "WHOLE-PAYCHECK' so I haven't gone near one.
I found out some years ago that small Ethnic Grocery Stores (Asian, Indian) have MUCH cheaper prices on produce and other food items and I do shop at them.
The "Great Value" brand at Walmart is ALL 'name brand" food items and much cheaper. I know this because when there was a "recall" they have announced "Peanut butter in the "NAME BRAND" and the walmart brand "GREAT VALUE" have been recalled." This I have noticed happen several times over the past few years, so it is the same food. Report
The only store we have in my city (somewhere in Atlantic Canada) that was listed is Walmart, and I have issues with buying my fresh produce at a place that also sells underwear one aisle to the left. I will, however, buy boxed or packaged foods at WM. Otherwise, I shop at Price Chopper for about 95% of the groceries. It's a Sobeys company, and I've always liked the Compliments brands (their version of no-name). I don't shop at Sobeys or Atlantic Superstore for the bulk of my items, those are "rich people stores". The only downside about Price Chopper is that the produce isn't always the best-looking or appealing. Otherwise, everything else is generally 10-20% cheaper at Price Chopper than the other 2 stores. And I'm not into driving 2 hours to get to the "local" Costco. Report
I've never gone to a Target with a grocery so I can comment on that. Will have to try that since I noticed there is now one close to me. While I have no ethical concerns regarding shopping at Wal-Mart, I tend not to shop there exclusively because it's just too big and I just don't have the time. Also I am not impressed with their meats. It seems that the last time I checked all of the meats had some sort of flavor enhancer added to it. Flavor enhancers are notoriously high in sodium. While I like their Great Value brands because I can get low sodium varieties at a good price, it doesn't justify the hassle. I generally only shop at Wal-Mart to buy the steam veggies or when I have a lot of baking to do. However, I do shop Sam's for catfish, parmesan (reggiano), sandwich thins, rotisserie chicken (the one high sodium meat I allow myself but not frequently) and sometimes beef roasts. I do shop quite a bit at Aldi's because I love the Fit n Active line, the reasonable prices on salad greens, fruit, bread, eggs, and skim milk. However, I do have to watch their meats as they tend to have high sodium flavor enhancers added as well. Aldi also has great prices on frozen fruit and nonfat yogurt. For meats I use local stores (Walt's & Pete's). I never use Dominick's and rarely use Jewels because I can never remember to hold on to a card and they are expensive if the item is not on sale. For produce lately I've been using a local store called Pete's Fresh Market but I've not been that impressed with the taste of their fruit. Some of it is shipped from so far away that I think it compromises on taste. Occasionally I do KMart but I am not impressed with this store. For the slightly higher price I would prefer to have better lighting so that I can see what I am purchasing. Glad to hear that others are finally learning about Aldi's. When I use to tell people I shop at Aldi's I'd get a silent response. I've always used store brands because my mom & dad taught their kids to look first at nutrient value as well as cost. So that has gotten me to try things that are not associated with a brand and I've been quite pleased with some of the store brands. Also I've been purchasing some items at Big Lots. However, for Big Lots this is mostly items that don't spoil, are within their expiration date, and were manufactured in the U.S. Pastas, spices, and crackers (e.g., Triscuits & RyCrisp) are generally purchased here because they are a fraction of the price in a traditional grocery store. Also have been growing fresh herbs in pots for the last two years. At the end of the season I bring the pots indoors and use a grow light to keep them going. They don't last for the entire winter, but I can extend their life generally until about February or March. I did this with rosemary last year and I'm trying sage, thyme, & garlic chives this year. For minimal start up costs (about $10 -$20) I've had a bounty of fresh herbs. I do go to Trader Joes but generally only for certain items. They are outside my 10 mile radius and are not in area that I frequent. Report
Count us as a Trader Joe's family -- we buy nearly everything there, produce the exception, which we get at a local ethnic market, or at a Henry's Farmer's Market recently opened in our area. Report
I don't get across town to Target, often, but I'll check it out. Thanks. Report
I have always been a faithful Walmart shopper, but now I tend to head in Target's direction more frequently. They now match competitor ads and I absolutely love the pharmacy. I often clip the coupon from the weekly ad for a new or transferred prescription that gives a $10 gift card, which I use to save money on food and merchandise. Not to mention, Target is not nearly as crowded as Walmart. Report
SuperTarget is our best place for deals on everything. They definitely beat WalMart in our town. Surprisingly, KMart has the best place on prescription drugs. 66% less than WalMart on diabetic and bp prescriptions. They'll give you cut rate prices if you are unemployed. Report
Unless a store delivers or has electric carts, I pretty much don't shop there. I haven't been pleased with the buyers when it came to produce so I usually get my own at stores with electric carts. I'd like to try Trader Joe's but our local ones are crowded with narrow aisles so no carts and standing in line for long times.

I don't usually shop at Wal-Mart for a variety of reasons but not necessarily because of any ethical concerns. Frankly, I doubt any corporation-owned store has any better ethics. In any event, none of the discount stores that offer a full grocery are close enough to justify the expense of traveling there. Report
Not in our area Wal-mart is the better deal I have tried to shop at Target and end up spending more. Also if Target is have a sale I can comp the price at wal-mart.

Target is a little steep for my budget unless something is on a clearence priced.
Of course I live in East Tx in a small town that has a super wal-mart Target is a 25 mile drive. Report
My husband is a die-hard Kroger grocery shopper, but time and again, I try to show him that we get more and spend less when we shop at the WM SuperCenter. I am extremely price and quantity/quality conscious and although a local franchise store might have an ocassional item cheaper than what I can get at WM, it is usually not enough of a deal to spend the time & gas money to go anywhere else. Report
I do the bulk of my shopping at pathmark. Generally that is for meats, boxed & frozen items. For fresh veggies i go to a produce truck 2-3 times in a 2 week period. They are always cheaper than the market and have good quality. Report
I shop 3 to 4 times a month. I do not make a special trip, instead I combine shopping with my other errands. Sometimes I even walk. First I go to a freight damaged discount store with my monthly list. This store is like a garage sale, you never know what they are going to have. When I find something on my list, I buy enough for 3 months. Then I go to Sams. There, I also buy in bulk. Depending upon my needs, I may not return to Sams for 3 months. For 5 months of the year I shop weekly at our local Farmers Market. (I also have a small garden .) Then I end up at King Soopers with my coupons for everything else. Our King Soopers has an excellent produce department.
What little meat I buy is natural and delivered to my home by a local business, Front Range Natural Meats. It is pricey, but the quality is excellent and I feel very good about feeding it to my family.
I do have the Schwans truck come to my home. Their quality is also excellent. My husband loves their ice cream.
I have found that my menu planning, my list, use of coupons and staying out of the store keeps my budget the happiest. I think that if you use those tools, you can create savings at any store you shop at including the Farmers Market! Report
IT'S TRADER JOE'S FOR ME, even though I have to drive more than an hour to get there. Since they don't carry Everything, I fill in the gaps at my home town, small grocery. It's important to support local businesses if you want to keep all your options and have a nicer town. Report
I wish that were true of our Targets. In our area, Targets prices are still significantly above Wal-Mart. We also have a Fareway here and they beat out Wal-Mart a lot of the time - even though they are a smaller store. Their meat is the best quality and price. Report
We shop at Winco that beats out most grocery stores in area. Report
I would 'love' to chose my own place to shop but I don't go into stores so I have to rely on a friend to pick up any groceries. He always shops at Shaws but I do have a Shaws card so save a bit of money. I sometimes wish they would shut down the store for an hour so I could just roam free and shop away but I know that will never happen. And even though I write lists, I ALWAYS forget to put something on it. I would not enter a Walmart if you paid me and that's where my P-NP calls in my meds. My social worker goes in for me although this month, I did it myself under extreme distress. Got through it without a panic attack though. Report
i try to shop at farmers markets but walmart is the closet store by like 25 min o im atuck goin gthere i just ish they had better produce Report
Farmer's Market does NOT mean organic or even clean. I shop at Whole Foods for organic unless my once a month to Kroger or Sam's We also have HEB and Randall's /Tom Thumb which sell 'organic' but tasteless organic. Having grown up in a refinery covered swamp and even spending a few summers working on an egg farm in 8th and 9th grade - i'll take organic and free range please any day. I just have to buy less or more extenders like rice etc to make it last longer. Report
We do shop at different places for different items. Walmart has the best prices for eggs, bread, peanut butter, coffee, flour, etc. But my grocer has better meat prices. And, believe it or not, the dollar store has great produce! Report
I have been a fan of WalMart for years but I will give Target another chance! I belong to Costco and get my gasoline for less usually and other foods, but I find the grocery store next to it called Winco has better prices on other foods. I am a shop when things are on sale kind of person, always have been and always will be! Love to get the most for my money so I have money for other things! Report
I wish we had Trader Joe's in the South! I am such a Target fan and I love Whole Foods, but it looks like I would do better at Trader Joe's. An Aldi just opened in my city, so I may give it a try. Report
Trader Joe's is my store for most food items, with the exception of produce. When it comes to produce, I hit the local farmers' roadside stands and farmers' markets. Hopefully, I will be successful with the veggie garden I'm in the process of creating. Report
I LOVE Target and don't care if they're cheaper or not since I don't believe in supporting a company like WalMart. Report
I use a grocery card each week at the same grocery store. It prevents me from spending elsewhere and not having money for GOOD food. I do NOT buy any junk food with the grocery card. I buy my fresh fruits/veggies, I cannot afford meat, so I eat a lot of beans and lentils, tuna and peanut butter.
If I want something like pop/soda, a chocolate bar, ice cream cone etc., I have to walk somewhere to get it. In my case, with 4 chronic back issues, it makes an easy decision...I'm in pain and it's not worth it. If I want sweets I eat yogurt or fresh fruit, and if I want salty foods I eat baby carrots or salad with a little dressing. I do buy Thinsations and the 100 calorie treats 1/month but that is about it. I drink water. If I run out of money for groceries (I only get $30/week) I use some of my spending money to get me through. But I am on the tightest budget of the lady who does some people's trustee type work and I'm the only one that ever has money left over. Dollar stores are great too. A lot of places if you only look and only buy what you need not what you crave. Report
Very glad to hear that Target beats (or comes close to beating) Wal Mart. I would never shop at Wal Mart because of their terrible business practices, and I do almost all my grocery shopping at Target and Trader Joe's. Once in a while I go to Jewel as well. Report
I am not at all surprised with the outcome. I LOVE TARGET! They have the lowest price on South Beach high protein bars, Healthy Choice frozen meals, Weight Watchers frozen meals, and many 100-calorie snack foods. And I agree with one of the comments made about the local WalMart being untidy and a little dirty: the 2 near me are the same way. They also don't have the variety of food products that Target does. I also like Trader Joe's: their prices for lean ground beef and chicken breasts are much cheaper than my local supermarkets (Acme and Genuardi's). Whole Foods is VERY son calls it "Whole Paycheck". Report
I was surprised to see the survey done in my area. I shop at all of the stores except Dominicks. Here you either go to Jewel or Dominicks. I really got upset with Jewels' rising prices and started shopping at Aldi. I always left Aldi with a smile on my face and money left in my wallet. Aldi is adding more and more items to their Fit 'N Active line of foods. I do still shop at Jewel for certain items. Their is also a Meijer store that I'm surprised wasn't included in the survey. I have been doing more shopping there and find better prices than Jewel. Report
Grocery shopping shouldn't be so hard. Most stores now have their ads on-line, just read & compare & if in your area or time range, shop assorted stores. As far as store brands, I used to be a believer of them years longer! There is always something inferior about them. Use coupons, watch ads, & set a $$$ amount & stick to it! Stock up when possible, on seasonal items. BIG money saver! ps...don't shop hungry, & if possible, without children... Report
It seriously warms my heart to see so many people in the comments basing their shopping choices on more than their personal bottom line. The most for MY money is any place I don't have to compromise my ethics to walk in the door - not how many things I can walk out with. Report
I am not a fan of Walmart because the stores in my area are cluttered, not picked up and stuff is hard to find. However, I do shop at Target. Good to know they are actually cheaper! Report
That is surprising about Target. I'll have to give them a try. Report
I used to love Aldi's when I lived in Ohio. Now that I'm in the Northwest I don't have that store anymore. I've "replaced" it with The Grocery Outlet. It's a good store to get snacks and some produce, as well as frozen foods. And many times I can pick up organics there super cheap. I also shop Trader Joe's and Target. I especially like target for non-food items like diapers and cleaning supplies (I also don't have a super store in the area). I've been told I need to try Winco, so that's my next bargain hunting spot. : ) Report
I was suprised to see that Target was in close or beating Wal-Mart Report
My favorite place to shop for groceries is Trader Joe's. I've found they have low prices, and great healthy items. Report
I really wasn't surprised by the outcome. I already shop Aldi, Trader Joe's, Target and All Green Market. When possible, I shop at the farmers' markets in the area, Baltimore, MD. If there is something I need that I can't find at my favorites, I check the sales circulars online.
My son, who lives in Berkeley and teaches Chemistry at Alameda College, loves the Berkeley Bowl and the Saturday farmers' market near his apartment. Lucky guy! Report
I am surprised to learn Target is beating out Wal-mart. I prefer Wal-mart in part because I trust their label foods to be high quality.

Our Target has some groceries but isn't a super-store like our Wal-mart. Report
I agree wtih what 'Kashmir' has to say. I shop in Costco and Shoprite, here on the east coast besides hitting farmer's market and Trader joe's. When we move to MN, we will continue to shop for food in a local supermarket and Costco. Report
I do find it surprising that Target is cheaper than Wal-mart. I haven't been there in several years. I guess I need to go check out the new prices.

I usually do my shopping at Wal-mart and Winn-Dixie for the meat and produce. Report
I live in a small town an hour away from the nearest city. There is no Target either because I live in Canada. We have Superstore where the produce is hit and miss and then there is the fact that you are only allowed to buy a certain amount of food off the shelf or you pay more. The same goes if you don't buy enough of the item, then you pay more for the item as well.
I don't like shopping at Wal-Mart because of the line ups there. It is rediculous!
So I shop at my hometown and look for sales. It is really expensive to shop here though. My friends from the city came shopping for groceries one day with me and she was shocked at the prices.
With a family of six you are always looking for a deal.
I find that if I watch the sales and shop with coupons and BOGO items, I can get things cheaper at Publix than Wal-Mart. I don't care for most of Aldi's items. The fresh fruits and veggies seem nasty most of the time. I like to hit the flea market or farmer's markets for those things-cheaper and fresher. As for clothes, I am a confirmed thrift store junkie. It is the thrill of the hunt for something great that is soooo cheap! Report
I am not surprise at these result at all... As for me, I won't shop at Walmart ever! My favorite place is Trader Joe's: I found their prices good and I really like their stuff. Report
I look at the ads for the best sales, and then I go to the one store that has the most of what we need on sale. But most of the time I end up shopping at Meijer. They have the best selection of produce at very good prices, and their store brand is excellent. I haven't found anything that was "inferior" to the brand names yet. I go to Walmart about once a month to stock up on cereal and breads. And I go to Sam's about every 3 months to buy a few items that I've found I can buy large quantities of and pay the lower prices. I have not been impressed with the Aldi's in our area, but I'd love to see their selection grow. I'd love to see a Trader Joe's come to our area (east central IL), because of all the glowing things I've been reading here ; ). Report
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