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Price check: Where to find groceries for the best prices, quality

If you're buying organic, you can actually save money at a place like Whole Foods. (AP Photo/File)

It’s very likely you do something at least once, maybe twice, for some people it’s three or more times a week that costs you an extra couple of thousand dollars a year because you don’t think about it.

Out of habit you shop at the same grocery store.

Puget Sound Consumers’ Checkbook has just completed a comparison of the grocery stores in our area. It’s a shopping cart price check of 152 items.

“It includes fresh produce, meats, dairy products, and then all kind of non-perishables,” explains Checkbook President Robert Krughoff.

He says the comparison also includes a survey of 4,000 consumers to find out if they like the quality of the food they buy.

We’ll start with cost.

QFC’s prices were 12 to 16 percent higher than Albertsons and Safeway and up to six percent higher than Fred Meyer. Walmart had the lowest grocery prices.

“For a family that would spend about $150 a week at a Safeway or an Albertsons, they could expect to save about $1,700 per year by shopping at Walmart,” says Krughoff. “It’s about a $2,000 savings per year at those stores compared to QFC.”

But quality, as you know, is a different issue.

“Walmart, Safeway and Albertsons scored lowest,” reports Krughoff. “Fred Meyer, WinCo and QFC rated substantially higher on that. And then of course there are some stores that just get very high ratings. Central Market, Metropolitan Market, and a couple of others get very high ratings – superior – more than 90 percent of their customers for overall quality of the store, and high ratings for fresh produce, fresh meats, etc.”

The best place for meat, however, is Costco.

“Costco looked very good in terms of the quality of fresh meats. Substantially higher ratings than Safeway, Albertsons or many of the other stores in the area,” says Krughoff.

If you’re buying organic, you can actually save money at a place like Whole Foods.

“If you were buying specifically organic products the Whole Foods prices for (verifiably) organic things are not much higher than they would be at other supermarkets,” he says.

When you look at quality and price, the winner is Trader Joes.


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