By Frugal Frannie
Would you rather spend $54 or $104 for a basket of 20 staple items at an Upper West Side supermarket?
With grocery prices rising at an annual rate of 11.9% according to the May Consumer Price Index report, budget-conscious shoppers are struggling to stay anywhere near their previous spending.
Knowledge is power, my fellow frugalistas. Especially when it comes to local food costs.
- Brooklyn Fare, 62nd & West End Avenue
- Trader Joe’s, 72nd & Broadway
- Fairway, 74th & Broadway
- Gristedes, 84th & Columbus
- D’Agostino, 91st & Columbus
- Key Food, 96th & Amsterdam
- Whole Foods, 97th & Columbus
- Columbus Foodmarket, 104th & Columbus
- Fresh Direct, online
- Stop & Shop, online
[Yes, there are many other fine local markets, but I am only one woman. A woman who insists on doing these investigations in a single day. So, if you’re a devotee of Jubilee, Mani Market, Health Nuts, Morton Williams, Pioneer, Associated, H Mart, Westside, etc., please use my data to compare with your favorite.]
My methodology: Use unit pricing to calculate a standard cost for 20 basic items. For example, if frozen blueberries at one market had the lowest price-per-ounce in a 3-pound bag versus a 12-ounce bag, I used that lower price-per-ounce to calculate what a standardized 1-pound bag would cost. It’s not a perfect formula, but it’s the best I’ve discovered. Also, if an item was on sale, I quoted the discounted price available to everyone – not just “club members.”
Giant disclaimer: The following prices are what I found, based on what was indicated on the shelf. Could there have been a lower-priced pack of meat hidden at the bottom of the pile? Might I have transposed a number? Could the price charged at checkout be different from the aisle sign? All possible. Please consider this report as a guide, not gospel, OK?
Here are my findings, with the lowest price in pink:
Because Key Food and Columbus Foodmarket didn’t offer all 20 items, they are not included in this total market basket comparison:
Given the disparity in pricing, I was curious about the ownership of the lowest and highest-cost stores I surveyed. Turns out, billionaire families own both. The Albrechts of Germany control Trader Joe’s [and Aldi]. New Yorker John Catsimatidis owns Red Apple Group, which includes D’Agostino [and Gristedes]. Interestingly, the market basket totals for Trader Joe’s and D’Agostino haven’t really budged since January; both visits clocked in at approximately $54 and $104, respectively.
Inflation IS happening, but it seems to be a sneaky beast – hitting some items with a wallop, while others appear unscathed. I’ve seen my preferred peanut butter recently jump by 15%. Same thing with oat milk.
How about you? Share your latest grocery gasp and top tips for saving money in the comments.