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Rachel Cruze: 10 Cheapest Grocery Stores

May 5th, 2024

©Rachel Cruze

It’s no secret that going grocery shopping these days can feel like putting your bank account on a scarcity diet. With the price of food on the rise, planning your weekly grocery hauls while keeping to your budget only seems more difficult, especially if you rely on standard grocery store chains to meet your needs.

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Fortunately, you’re not limited to the same old grocery stores. As personal finance expert Rachel Cruze explained, shoppers who want to balance good food for great prices aren’t out of options. Cruze described some of her favorite, low-cost grocery stores where you can find your old favorite items and discover some new ones right on the shelves.

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Aldi

Aldi comes up often on lists of cheaper grocery stores, and Cruze’s is no exception. She said that Aldi is able to keep its prices low — including some canned goods for roughly $0.65 — because of its unique, DIY experience where shoppers bag their own groceries and “rent” their own carts for $0.25.

Cruze counted the following items among her favorite Aldi finds. While Aldi doesn’t list prices on its website, you can visit your local store to scope out the prices in-person.

  • Baking supplies

  • Fresh produce

  • Wine

  • Chocolate

  • Cheese

  • Canned goods

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Market Basket

Cruze recommends that her New England-based readers check out Market Basket, citing a more than 100-year legacy of quality for the Northeast-focused chain. She said that the relatively small corporate staff and streamlined approach to purchasing help keep prices down.

She also recommended that shoppers try the following local foods at Market Basket. GOBankingRates sleuthed some of the available prices:

  • Rhode Island clams: Check local stores or flyers for seafood prices.

  • Maple syrup: Organic maple syrup can run only $5.28.

  • Regional produce: Husks of corn are available for only $1.49 a pound and two pounds of apples costs only $2.99.

WinCo Foods

Cruze praised WinCo Foods for its excellent bulk selections at reduced prices, explaining that the employee-owned chain actually doesn’t require presenterships, unlike Sam’s Club or Costco. Since WinCo avoids transaction fees by not accepting credit cards, doesn’t employ baggers and doesn’t spend money on advertising, the store can pass savings onto shoppers.

Cruze’s favorite items at the store include some of the following bulk staples. Prices vary at each location, so call your local store or head on over.

  • Baking supplies

  • Spices

  • Cereal

  • Pasta

  • Rice

  • Beans

Lidl

While giving you the correct pronunciation of this low-cost and high-quality store — for the record, the name rhymes with beetle, not idle — Cruze gives Lidl high marks for selling even more than groceries, but small kitchen appliances, gardening supplies and even toys.

The store passes deals down to customers by offering fewer brands and encouraging competitive pricing among vendors. Cruz also highlighted how the store’s design encourages shoppers to flow in and out more quickly while also eliminating costs associated with small things, like paying employees to unpack produce.

Cruze is a big fan of the following Lidl finds, and GOBankingRates was able to track down some prices — note, though, that prices may vary by location.

Trader Joe’s

Cruze showed enthusiasm for the fun experience of shopping at Trader Joe’s, calling it, “a convenience store, a produce stand and an international market [combined into] an island-themed grocery store.”

By stocking its own well-known store brands, Trader Joe’s cuts out the middlemen and passes discounts onto customers. The store also famously refuses to pay for ads or deal with coupons, while also buying in volume and keeping operational costs low.

GOBankingRates was able to find some prices for Cruze’s favorite items:

  • Honey-roasted pumpkin ravioli: This is a seasonal item, so check when it’s available.

  • Sweet cinnamon-filled Korean pancakes: This is a seasonal item, so check when it’s available.

  • Vegan chickpea masala salad: Find it for $4.99.

  • Their brand of cereal bars: Some fruit flavors are available for $2.49.

  • Seasoning blends — Cruze recommends Everything But the Bagel: Get it for $1.99.

  • Salad kits: The Avocado Ranch salad kit costs $3.99.

  • Hummus: Roasted garlic hummus costs $2.29.

  • Dried fruit: Organic dried mango will cost you $4.99.

  • Pumpkin butter: This is a seasonal item

  • Fresh and frozen meats: Frozen Italian style meatballs cost $4.99, and organic ground beef is $7.49 per pound.

  • Dark chocolate peanut butter cups: Find them for $4.49.

Costco

Cruze called Costco “the most magical place on earth” — and for good reason. Brimming with wonderful options from food to home goods and even electronics, Costco uses several techniques to ensure lower costs for customers. The chain avoids traditional advertising and hiring workers to unpack boxes, while also offsetting prices with their presentership fees.

GOBankingRates found prices for some of Cruze’s favorite Costco goods:

Walmart

Cruze highlighted that Walmart is one of the world’s largest retailers, popular because of the deals it offers to regular shoppers. Praising Walmart as a one-stop shop, she shared that the chain’s large size helps keep prices low, since Walmart can exert a lot of bargaining muscle with suppliers. The massive volume of sales that Walmart enjoys every year also enables the store to keep prices low.

GOBankingRates looked into the prices of some of Cruze’s favorite items at Walmart.

Food 4 Less

Cruze said that this West Coast chain has more than earned its name, keeping its prices low by having customers bag their own groceries. Since the store is part of Kroger Co., customers can find high quality brands on the shelves.

GOBankingRates looked up the prices for some of Cruze’s top finds at Food 4 Less.

H-E-B

Cruze said that H-E-B is well-known in Texas and across Mexico for good reason. Beyond the fact that employees give you a tortilla to snack on while you shop, she explained that the store keeps prices low by carrying mostly local foods and allowing customers to scan and bag their own items via mobile checkout on the H-E-B Go app.

GOBankingRates found prices for some of Cruze’s favorite things to buy at H-E-B:

  • San Antonio’s Cafe Olé coffee: A bag of coffee costs $7.68.

  • Clint’s Texas Salsa: A jar costs $4.13.

  • Fresh guacamole: A pack of fresh guacamole costs $6.98.

  • Cranberry pistachio bread: A loaf costs $5.18.

  • H-E-B’s brand of ultra-strong toilet paper: A pack of 36 costs $31.18.

  • Texas pecan K-Cups: A 12-pack costs $6.98.

  • Whataburger sauces: The patty melt sauce costs $4.93.

Sam’s Club

Cruze is a huge fan of Sam’s Club, writing, “They offer their presenters incredible deals on a huge variety of items — and what’s not to love about their endless free samples?”

Sam’s Club keeps prices down by buying in bulk and charging presentership fees, as well as taking advantage of their vendor relationship with sister company Walmart.

GOBankingRates found prices for some of Cruze’s favorite Sam’s Club items:

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Rachel Cruze: 10 Cheapest Grocery Stores

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