General

The cheapest grocery stores in the U.S.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one. You go to the grocery store with a list. You do your shopping and stick to your plan. And when you’re finished checking out, you’re shocked by the large sum.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. According to consumer surveys, price is one of the biggest reasons that people look for new supermarkets. And given that grocery prices vary greatly depending on where you shop, these folks have the right idea.

Those interested in cutting down their grocery bill (without sacrificing their favorite foods) may want to look for a cheaper grocery store. Because, let’s face it, there are plenty of choices out there, and you’ll have no trouble finding one that fits your budget.

Walmart

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Everyone knows about Walmart already, so let’s get this one out of the way.

As one of the biggest retailers in the world, Walmart is well-known for its low prices. But what you might not have known is that this “everyday low prices” strategy was a core part of the business from its earliest days.

When Sam Walton opened his first shop back in 1950, he focused on keeping operating costs low and sales volume high. The strategy was effective; Walmart grew rapidly over the years, expanded internationally, and became the retail powerhouse that we know today.

Love them or hate them, Walmart offers low prices on just about everything.

Aldi

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Aldi is a German-owned retail chain with locations in over 20 countries. Bargain hunters will be well-acquainted with this shop; Aldi is famous for its affordably-priced goods and simple store layout that prioritizes function over form.

Part of Aldi’s advantage over other retailers is that they stock private-label goods instead of popular brand names. This helps keep their costs down while offering a large variety of products. And don’t underestimate Aldi’s small store size! It’s a heck of a lot easier to get in, do your shopping, and get out of an Aldi’s compared to a huge retailer like Walmart.

However, keep in mind that Aldi doesn’t usually take manufacturer coupons, so if you’re a habitual coupon-clipper, you might be able to snag better deals elsewhere.

Trader Joe’s

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Trader Joe’s—seriously?

You better believe it. Despite Trader Joe’s reputation as a natural, gourmet retailer akin to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s is actually on the cheaper side. Like Aldi, Joe’s deals in private-label goods that are cheaper to acquire (and thus, cheaper to buy) than brand-name foods.

Trader Joe’s also has some unique pricing strategies that set it apart in the retail world. For example, Trader Joe’s famously sells bananas for 19 cents each, rather than in bunches like most stores. The reason is simple: After receiving feedback from an older customer who didn’t buy a bunch—“Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana”—Trader Joe’s realized that it needed to appeal to its customers in a different way.

This combination of innovative pricing and private-label products makes Trader Joe’s a worthy contender on this list.

Costco and Sam’s Club

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If you’re looking for affordability, you should really consider buying in bulk through a warehouse club like Costco or the Walmart-owned Sam’s Club. For those who aren’t familiar with this type of store, let’s review the differences.

  • Buy in bulk: Unlike normal grocery stores, warehouse clubs sell products in bulk. You won’t be able to buy a single pack of paper towels, for example — but you could buy a pack of 12 all at once at a much lower cost than if you’d bought them separately.
  • Less variety: As warehouse clubs sell products in large volumes, they can’t stock as many brands. You’ll typically see only one or two brand choices for each product, so keep that in mind if variety is important to you.
  • Membership required: One of the biggest drawbacks of these stores is that you need to buy a membership to shop there. These aren’t terribly expensive—around $60 per year—but it’s an important distinction to note.