By Frugal Frannie
Tis the season of check-out shock. My typical grocery shop used to hit around $50 a go. But in September, each trip started landing at over $60. How about you?
To ensure I’m spending my food budget as wisely as possible, I’ve been hunting in multiple Upper West Side supermarkets within a 15-minute walk of my apartment. My discovery? Bargains can be had at almost every one; but prices on individual “benchmark” items vary widely, with some costing DOUBLE at one place versus another.
Instead of keeping all that data in my head, I decided to create a “market basket” of 21 common items and do a survey of seven markets in a single day. On October 15th, I checked prices at:
- Brooklyn Fare at 62nd and West End Ave (just opened)
- Fairway at 74th and Broadway
- Gristedes at 84th and Columbus
- Jubilee at 69th and Freedom Place
- Key Food at 86th and Amsterdam
- Pioneer at 74th and Columbus
- Trader Joe’s at 72nd and Broadway
Comparing apples-to-apples, even among apple prices, wasn’t always simple. So here’s my GIANT METHODOLOGY DISCLAIMER: I looked for the lowest available price on a given item, using unit pricing to standardize.
For example, Trader Joe’s sells Granny Smith apples for 69 cents each; Fairway has a three-pound bag for $6.99; Brooklyn Fare posted $1.99 a pound. A typical apple weighs a half-pound. I calculated a standard pound price for all stores. Is it perfect? No.
If an item was on sale, say three cans of tuna for $4, I went with the unit price based on that deal. Again, this is a snapshot based on the lowest price I saw on a single Friday.
Finally, some stores are rather haphazard with posted prices, with many shelves missing proper tags. And I don’t know if the shelf price reflects what will be scanned at the register. Vigilance is your best defense, frugalistas.
What are you finding in your gustatory travels? Are you buying from different places than usual to save a buck? Have a secret source that always has the goods at great prices? Let’s hear it!