The Cheapest Grocery Store – A Massive Price Comparison

Do you want to know what is the cheapest grocery store? Which grocery store will save you the most money? Take a look at this massive price comparison of 4 of the biggest grocery store chains to see how they rank. Is Walmart or Aldi cheaper? How do Meijer and Kroger compare? What store really is the cheapest grocery store?

I have always been a frugal shopper who loves shopping for the best deals. As a one-income growing family, I need to stretch our pennies. I recently noticed that some of my favorite grocery stores didn’t seem as cheap as they used to be. Naturally, this sent me on a quest to discover the cheapest grocery store.

I live in northern Indiana so compared Meijer and Kroger to Aldi and Walmart. I love Meijer for their convenience to get everything. I like Aldi for the quick and frugal shopping experience. I love the sales at Kroger! And Walmart? Walmart isn’t my favorite grocery store to shop but I am willing to shop there if it will save me money.

This project might be one of my biggest grocery shopping projects yet and I was honestly amazed at what I discovered in my search for the cheapest grocery store. I am so excited to share all the details with you here today!

Settle in. Get ready. There are a lot of details and prices and statistics coming at you! Ready? Let me tell you how I found the cheapest grocery store. 

How did I search for the cheapest grocery store?

I looked at the stores that had the biggest reach. Walmart is national chain that boosts low prices. Is Walmart really the lowest? Aldi claims to beat Walmart but do they really? Meijer and Kroger are considered higher end grocery stores, but they have a large reach with great sales. For the sake of this price comparison, these were the four stores I chose to compare.

I started by making a list of the most common grocery items any household would use. Then, I added some more specific items that our family uses regularly. Finally, I asked the Joyfully Thriving Facebook page for their feedback and got a lot of great requests for items to add to the list.

I wanted a fair representation of various areas of the grocery store so I focused on 10 different shopping categories. The categories I used were:

  • Dairy
  • Pantry
  • Canned Goods
  • Condiments
  • Baking Goods
  • Meat
  • Frozen
  • Paper
  • Personal Products
  • Diapers

I came up with a list of 183 items in 10 categories that I compared at all 4 stores. 

I made a huge spreadsheet with all the grocery items and then I began comparing prices at the stores. I went through the store and wrote down prices for everything on my list. Some products were name-brand specific but many were simply for the cheapest generic version available at the store. I did not include fresh produce in this price comparison since it varies so much by season.

For the sake of best comparison, I used everyday prices and did not factor sales into this list.

Note: The prices may vary in different parts of the country. These prices are Northern Indiana prices as of August 2021. 

What are the cheapest grocery store results?

After multiple store shopping trips and researching through various store apps, my list was finally done. Once I found the price totals, I went through and started comparing price to see which was the cheapest grocery store.

First, I went through and highlighted the absolute lowest price for every item. If there was a store that tied on the price, both those stores were highlighted.

As I was comparing results, I realized that several stores were within pennies of each other. If you were already shopping at one store, it makes sense to pick up other items that are still a good deal. Keeping that in mind, I went back through the lists and highlighted every price that was within 5 cents of the lowest price. This gave them a mark for the second lowest price.

Then, I tallied up the totals – both in numbers and percentages (out of 183). Here is what I found.

2021 ResultsAldiMeijerKrogerWalmart
Lowest Price114151652
Second Lowest412445
Total Lowest118272097
Lowest Price62%8%9%28%
Second Lowest2%7%2%25%
Total Lowest64%15%11%53%

As you can see, Aldi had the most lowest prices and Kroger had the least.

Aldi had the lowest prices on two-thirds of the items on my master comparison list. That is a lot! This is making me start shopping there, even though the Walmart shopping experience is not necessarily my favorite.

Meijer used to be my go-to store to stock up at everything at a low price – but not anymore! I was truly surprised by how few of the lowest prices Meijer had. Meijer really does not have the best deals on very many things at all.

Aldi was the cheapest in almost a third of the categories. What I found interesting was that they had the lowest prices on over 100 items but the second lowest on only 4. If Aldi is not the lowest price, they really aren’t in the running at all for being the cheapest. Also, since Aldi does not carry everything, there were several items on the list that could not be compared at Aldi.

Kroger is definitely the most expensive if you shop without sales! Kroger also has many amazing sales which beat Aldi’s every day low prices. This chart does not take sales into account so it is difficult to see that represented. Kroger also has gas rewards and more digital coupons, both of which Aldi and Walmart do not. That definitely is worth considering.

The price differences really were staggering. For example, I used to always buy potato chips at Aldi. The Aldi price for potato chips is now $1.69. Kroger beats that at $1.25, where I have been buying my chips ever since Aldi raised their prices. Walmart is only $1.12 for chips, so that is a savings even on Kroger. And Meijer? Meijer clocks in at $3.49 – no where close! This is just one example of the differences in prices. There were a few categories where all 4 stores have prices within a dime, but only a few.

What is the absolute cheapest grocery store? 

If you are going by the everyday low prices at the store, the clear winner to the cheapest grocery store in 2021 is Aldi. Walmart is a runner up, with Meijer and Kroger trailing behind.

How have prices increased at the grocery store?

I did this price comparison 2 years ago in 2019. In 2019, Walmart was the cheapest grocery store, with Aldi trailing by quite a bit. I think Aldi has upped their game since then! Here were the results from 2 years ago.

 2019 ResultsAldiMeijerKrogerWalmart
  Lowest Price56152697
  Second Lowest3111632
  Total Lowest592642129
  Lowest Price31%8%15%54%
  Second Lowest2%6%9%18%
  Total Lowest33%15%24%72%

Two years ago, the results changed me from an Aldi shopper to a Walmart shopper. Guess what? Now I’m going back to be more of an Aldi shopper again!

I will always go where the prices are lowest to stretch our money the farthest.

There is much more to say about prices increasing, but this is already a lengthy post so stay tuned for more on the price increases next week!

How do I use this information to grocery shop?

It’s good to know what is the cheapest grocery store because now it can influence how we shop. 

Now, I have a list of what I should buy at Aldi and what items I should buy elsewhere. I also used these prices to create a stock-up list of the best prices for each item – so you can watch for sales at any store to beat those every day prices.

If you are going to mainly shop at one store – make it Aldi.

My plan? I plan to go back to shopping at Aldi more regularly and supplement with sales at Kroger – and occasionally the meat sales at Meijer. Walmart will still be my go to when I need a low price pick-up because their prices are close to Aldi on quite a few things.

It’s funny, because 2 years ago, when I did this research for the first time, I switched from being an Aldi shopper to a Walmart shopper – to save money. Now? I’m switching back because I am a frugal shopper. I will shop where the prices are the lowest to save me money.

I will also be using the store apps more regularly to check prices. That is incredibly helpful and convenient! I’ve already done it a couple times in the aisle of Kroger to compare prices at Walmart to see which if I should buy it at Kroger or wait until Walmart. It’s gone both ways but sometimes the price difference is quite substantial!

Want more information on the cheapest grocery store?

Want to see all the actual numbers and compare the prices yourself?

I compiled way too much information to share in one blog post. This blog post is already quite long, but there is still more I could share. If you want a copy of all my charts with prices and statistics, you are welcome to it! I compiled all my research into a 51 page ebook – with lots of detailed lists!

What lists are included in the ebook? 

  • Master Price Comparison (with all 4 stores and their prices)
  • Lowest Prices
  • Lowest and Second Lowest Prices
  • Prices from 2019 and 2021
  • Stock Up Prices (Category)
  • Stock Up Prices (Alphabetical)
  • Best Places to Buy (Category)
  • Best Places to Buy (Alphabetical)
  • Aldi Shopping List
  • Meijer Shopping List
  • Kroger Shopping List
  • Walmart Shopping List

Just enter your email in the box below, and I’ll send you a download link to the whole pdf file right away! It will also add you to my weekly newsletter list, so I can share other money saving tips and findings with you!

So, are you as surprised as I am by this price comparison? How does this change your shopping habits? Will it change them at all? 

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  1. I shop at Walmart and Meijer and I agree Walmart has the lowest daily prices. Meijer’s sale prices normally beat Walmart’s daily prices. I would say I’m 80 20 in favor of Walmart but I load up when Meijers has their better sales. For some reason or other, I have a photographic memory when it comes to prices. So it’s easy for me when it comes to shopping. I’ve always considered Kroger a rip-off. I like ALDI because they have items no one else

    1. Right now, it just includes Kroger, Meijer, Walmart and Aldi – the most common stores. Perhaps in the future, I will have more stores. We shall see! 🙂

      1. Thank you for this information!! This matched my findings for Central New York exactly! We don’t have your grocery stores, but the most common in my area, Price Chopper, is ofter much higher than Aldi’s or Walmart on most things. In addition, they have switched to clipless coupons exclusively, you must download them to your card and if it doesn’t come off as it should they can’t help you in the store, you have to call corporate. (That fact alone does not help me want to shop there!) Aldi’s is where we do most of our shopping with mostly Walmart for the stuff we can’t get at Aldi’s, and this time of year our local farmers market for fresh vegetables.

        1. You are truly welcome, Barb! And that is interesting to hear that it matches your findings as well. Digital coupons are nice sometimes, but if they don’t come off, that is certainly a hassle. I’m going to be joining you in doing more of my shopping at Aldi again, because every little bit of savings adds up!

  2. I agree Walmart is cheapest on many items, however I would never buy fresh vegetables or fresh meat from Walmart. I have had too many problems with both of these items. They do not understand what fresh means.

    1. I agree! I buy some fruits there, but buy my meats at Kroger and Meijer – as compared to Walmart. I can get better sales on fresher meats at those two stores. For stocking up on staples, Walmart remains my cheap go-to.

  3. Great info. I would also share that I can get through Aldi in less than 20 minutes with my list, so it will remain my go-to store for now.

  4. This is such a great list! I always wondered where to find the cheapest items and love how you broke everything down for us. I am becoming more and more of a Walmart shopper, although like you, it’s more for the prices than the experience!

    Walmart also offers an additional perk for those who RV: You can stay overnight one night in their parking lot for free. We always pick up a few things as our way of saying thank you. While it’s louder than most campgrounds, you can’t beat free when you are in a pinch!

    1. Thank you, Kalyn! I wanted it to be helpful so every one could compare prices and make their own shopping decisions. Like you, I’m one of those shoppers who draws the final line at prices. 🙂 And for that reason, I’m learning to take advantage of Walmart prices. That is an amazing Walmart perk for RV travelers! And since Walmarts are every where, it is nice to know you can always find a free place to stay when you need one!

  5. I’m not surprised by meijer! I only go there for convenience to my house and if it’s on sale.

    I have been noticing Aldi prices going up but it’s quick and convenient sometimes. Didn’t think wAlmart would beat them that much.

    1. Oh, convenience is a big factor – and sometimes, it is definitely worth paying a bit more for the convenience of shopping! I do that too. Aldi’s prices have been creeping up for awhile now, but like you, I didn’t think Walmart would beat them that much!

    1. You know…maybe? I definitely miss their fresh tortillas! 🙂 However, since I have started shopping on my own, I have never had access to an HEB so I learned to compare prices at different stores. I would like to go do a price comparison of HEB with some other stores to see how they compare. Still, I believe there are good deals to be found at every grocery store if you shop the sales and watch for deals!

  6. Walmart is not my go to store the closest is about 20 minutes from my house. Kroger is because of the sales plus it is less than 3 minutes from home. Aldi is at least a 45min to 1hr drive for me so not worth my time. There are certain items that we purchase at Walmart. Most of those items we purchase 2 or 3 at a time to keep from having to go there. I usually purchase OJ, Sour Cream, Yogurt, Health & Beauty items at Walmart. I don’t purchase fruit or veg Kroger has much better quality. I also don’t purchase meat, I get that at a small family owned market that has a full time butcher to butcher the cuts free of charge. Plus the quality of their meat beats out everyone else including the closest meat market. If you don’t take the Kroger sales into consideration Walmart is cheaper however when you do take them I save more shopping at Kroger than anywhere else.

    1. You shop much like I do, Rebecca! 🙂 The Kroger sales truly are amazing and make it a great place to shop. When you add in their digital coupons and gas rewards, which I try to maximize now, it makes Kroger very comparable to Walmart. Like you, I try to stock up on certain things at Walmart but don’t see myself going there every week either. Kroger is just around the corner from me as well so it is very handy, and probably the place where I do most of my shopping too!

  7. I noticed Aldi prices were going up and don’t shop Meijer because I noticed their prices are way out of line. I love Kroger specials and if it is something I use I always get the item/s there. Who could pass up a huge package of Kroger paper towels priced at $9.99 for free???? I was bless to get that coupon sent to me and I sure did load that one!!! We have been shopping Walmart more and more. They don’t have the selection that other stores have, but the prices are good. Thanks for doing this Kristen.

    1. They started to remodel the Aldi’s that are the city closest to my town and I stopped in just to check out the new look. I had been a previous Aldi shopper before I moved to my town and I noticed that the prices were much higher than pre-remodel. Guess the consumers get to pay for the remodel.

  8. When Walmart first came to California I didn’t want to shop there because of hearing bad things about the place. When I thought about it I realized their employee benefits are at least as good if not better than similar retailers so I felt better about trying it out. When they expanded to include full grocery stores I went on in and was impressed and amazed. I do about 90% of my shopping there now because I feel like their prices are fair.

    One thing I resent about the grocery stores is how you have to buy certain quantities of things to get a good price. I find that ridiculous and is another reason I appreciate WalMart.

    Aldi has been here for a couple of years but I don’t shop there as they seem to sell mostly off brands and it’s funny because I like the Great Value brand from WalMart but they price the brand names fairly too. At Aldi it seems like brand names are priced as high as legacy grocers.

    1. I agree, Shelz. I think Walmart has very fair prices – and like you, I really like the Great Value brand. It amazes me how many people don’t like to buy generic but it really is a great source of savings! And yes, Aldi name brands are just as high as grocery stores, because they pride themselves more on their generics. You do have to watch grocery store purchases because some require you to buy multiples for the sale price. Thankfully, I think more stores are going away from that model but it still happens.

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