There are several variables we consider when choosing a grocery store – from friendly cashiers, convenience and location, to the fresh produce. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you’re probably looking for the cheapest grocery store to shop at.
For example, is Costco cheaper than Aldi? Is Walmart the cheapest of them all? While shopping for cheap food is by no means a new concept, knowing exactly which grocery store to choose will save you money as well as your time.
So, if you’re looking for the cheapest grocery store to shop at, you’ve come to the right place. Using publicly available data and experience, we have created a list summarizing the 14 cheapest grocery stores in the United States.
In This Post:
- The 14 cheapest grocery stores in the U.S.
- The top 5 winners ranked by category
- Summaries of the cheapest grocery stores
- The best ways to save on grocery shopping
- Frequently asked questions about the cheapest grocers
- Final thoughts on the cheapest grocery stores
14 Cheapest Grocery Stores Overall
According to publicly available information and data from the Dunnhumby 2021 Retailer Preference Index (RPI), which was compiled from thousands of different household surveys, the 14 cheapest grocery stores are:
- Market Basket
- Trader Joe’s
- Walmart Neighborhood Market
- Sam’s Club
- Dollar General
The study by Dunnhumby rewarded Aldi, which is widely known for its amazing value, with the top spot. This was a result of Aldi offering private-label options at much lower-than-average cost when compared to retail giants such as Costco.
Giant retail grocers, such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Trader Joe’s ranked behind Aldi on the list compiled by Dunnhumby. However, regional and much smaller grocery stores, such as Food4Less, Market Basket, and WinCo were in the top five.
The grocers were ranked by the following categories:
- Discounts & rewards
- Customer service
- Quality: Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Market, Publix
- Discounts: Fry’s, Kroger, Price Chopper, King Soopers, Winn-Dixie
- Convenience: Walmart, Market Basket, Publix, Fry’s, Jewel-Osco
- Speed: Fareway, Amazon, Aldi, Fresh Thyme, Publix
- Digital: Amazon, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Lowes Foods
- Operations: Costco, Market Basket, BJ’s, WinCo, Food4Less
Summaries of the 14 Cheapest Grocery Stores
Here are summaries of the top 14 cheapest grocery stores in the United States according to the Dunnhumby 2021 Retailer Preference Index (RPI):
As previously mentioned, Aldi took the top spot for being the cheapest grocery store. Aldi is a German grocery retailer that focuses on private-label and low-cost products.
They also offer organic, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options, all of which are offered at much lower prices than their competitors.
Their unique business model allows them to cut costs as much as possible, while still paying employees a fair wage and passing on savings to people that shop at their locations.
However, you will be required to insert a quarter to use their shopping carts – which you will get back once you return it. You will also have to back your own groceries, so don’t forget to bring reusable bags.
Even though there are these few inconveniences, Aldi is the best option if you’re trying to save as much as possible on your grocery shopping.
2. Market Basket
Exclusive in northeast states such as Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, Market Basket is a grocery store that is loved for its low grocery prices on items, which are typically more expensive at other grocers.
You can find fresh produce, superb deli meats, and much more at a fraction of prices found elsewhere. You can also use their website to create a shopping list that will help you when you’re at their store.
Market Basket has been compared to Publix by New England locals. Publix is a southeastern grocery chain that is known for its awesome deals and unique deli services, so the comparison is no surprise.
Costco is a membership-only store which costs $60 for a yearly membership.
If you have a large family or eat a lot of the same food and want to buy it in bulk, Costco is a great place for you to shop for groceries.
Although you have to pay for a membership, your savings from shopping at their locations will be well worth it. Not only are their prices very affordable, they also offer plenty of organic and gluten-free options, if that’s what you’re looking for.
WinCo is an employee-owned, warehouse-like retailer that is popular in western parts of the United States.
Selling items in bulk, having limited staff, and designing their stores to house groceries as effectively as possible, allows them to sell their items for unbelievably low prices.
However, considering their limited staff, you will have to bag your own groceries, which is worth it if you’re tying to save as much as possible on food.
WinCo also tries to make their stores as environmentally friendly as possible, so it’s a wonderful grocery option for us earth lovers.
Food4Less is a lesser-known company which is owned by Kroger and their name says all you need to know.
They are a grocery store that sells food and almost everything else, from vitamins to alcohol at largely discounted prices.
Food4Less also allows you to combine digital coupons with physical coupons to save even more. You can also collect fuel points to save on gas by shopping at their locations.
I’m sure we have all heard of Walmart and have even shopped at their locations. They can offer extremely low prices and also have a much larger selection of groceries because of their wild success.
Walmart has wonderful prices on staples, vegetables, fruits, and much more. Along with much cheaper options, you can also save even more money on your groceries by using the Walmart app or website.
Walmart is usually one of the only stores to shop for groceries in rural areas and small towns, making it the best option for people that live in these areas.
7. Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s was named America’s favorite grocery store two years in a row and has a long list of awards and accolades to go with it.
However, Trader Joe’s is one of the more pricier grocery stores on our list. Nonetheless, they carry wonderful house brands and even pre-made meals as value deals.
Considering this, if you’re a busy person and would rather make a quick meal instead cooking from scratch, Trader Joe’s is a wonderful option.
8. Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart Neighborhood Market is rather different than the stand Walmart. Unlike standard Walmart locations that offer more than groceries, Walmart Neighborhood Market stores only carry groceries.
As a result, they are able to offer cheaper grocery prices, which will help you save even more money than shopping at standard Walmart locations.
If you have both options near you, take time to compare the prices of their groceries. You may find that Walmart Neighborhood Market allows you to get more for your money.
Lidl is similar to Aldi and is one of their biggest competitors. In fact, if you’re shopping for both specialty and staple products, Lidl might actually be cheaper than Aldi.
Lidl also doesn’t require a quarter to use their carts and has a fresh bakery. However, they don’t bag your groceries for you or even supply bags.
Lidl also has significantly fewer locations than their competitors, so it’s highly unlikely they have a location where you live. However, if they do, it’s a wonderful option to save on grocery shopping.
If you live in Texas, H-E-B is a wonderful cheap grocery store option, as it is the only state they have locations.
They have isles full of wonderful food, baked goods, and prepared items all at reasonable prices. To save even more, you can also clip and use their email and digital coupons.
You also have the option to get online deals they offer shipped directly to your house, or even make a shopping list based on the groceries they have on sale.
In addition, you can opt to pickup the groceries you order online curbside to save you time and prevent impulse buying.
The survey conducted by Dunnhumby included stores that stood out with regards to their digital attributes. As no surprise, Amazon took the top spot as the digital category winner.
However, as noted by the study, consumers likely shopped for their groceries online out of necessity, rather than preference, and due to the pandemic, has only increased.
With regards to digital attributes, Amazon was followed by Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Lowes Food for the tops spot in the digital category.
With a small store size and fewer employees, Fareway is able to offer groceries at lower prices than their competitors. Considering this, within Midwest regions, Fareway is one of the cheapest options to buy groceries.
Fareway is known for offering special perks and services, such as movie rentals, a virtual meat counter, and dietician services.
You can find Fareway locations within states such as South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
13. Sam’s Club
Similar to Costco, Sam’s Club, which is owned by Walmart, is another membership-only grocery store that sells items in bulk.
The majority of inventory in Sam’s Club is composed of groceries, making it a better grocery option than Walmart.
Considering they sell the majority of their groceries in bulk, If you have a big family, it’s probably one of the best grocery stores for you to shop at.
14. Dollar General
Coming in last place as the cheapest grocery store in the United States is Dollar General. Dollar General is a discount grocer that is usually available in rural areas and small towns.
As a result, Dollar General is sometimes the only grocery option for residents in these locations.
Dollar General is a great option for a selection of items beyond groceries. However, if you’re looking for a wide variety of fresh food, it’s not the best choice.
The majority of items you can find at the Dollar General are within categories such as cleaning supplies, office supplies, beauty products, and even apparel.
One aspect that sets Dollar General apart from other dollar stores is that you can use coupons to save even more.
Ways to Save on Groceries
Here are a few ways to increase your savings on groceries in addition to shopping at the cheapest grocery stores:
1. Use a Rebate App
If you want to take your savings on groceries a step further, you can use a rebate app to save even more.
Rebate apps are almost like digital coupons that you can use directly from your smartphone. Some rebate apps have offers you can use in-store, while others will allow you to scan grocery receipts to earn cash back.
Although not every rebate app will have offers for every grocery store, many of them have offers for most of the grocers on our list.
Here are three of the most popular rebate apps to save money on groceries:
To save time, browse the apps for recent offers before you go to a grocery store. Depending on the app you use, simply scan your receipt once you’re finished shopping and the app will credit your account.
2. Look For Sales
This may be an obvious way to save on groceries but it’s worth a mention. Look for sales when you do your grocery shopping to save money.
Keep in mind that just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. If it’s not a grocery item you need, then it’s not worth purchasing.
If you want to take it a step further, you can even shop estate sales. Estate sales happen when someone passes away and their house needs to be cleared out.
Considering it’s a everything-must-go sale, you should be able to find some amazing deals on grocery items from the pantry and cupboards.
3. Meal Planning
Meal planning is a great way to save money on your grocery bill and prevent food from going to waste. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans waste between 30-40 percent of the food supply per year.
This means that the average U.S. household throws away hundreds of dollars worth of food every year. Planning your meals on a weekly basis is a wonderful way to cut this cost.
4. Eat What You Already Have
Do you ever cook and end up with leftovers? Instead of throwing them away, same them for the next day or even freeze them to use for a meal after a week or so. You may not enjoy eating leftovers, but it’s a wonderful way to lower your grocery bill.
5. Buy Day-Old Bakery Goods
Depending on the grocery store you shop at, they may have an in-store bakery. If that’s the case, it’s highly likely not all goods are sold the day they’re made, such as cakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes, and much more.
You may also want to consider checking the prefab bread aisle. Items in this isle also gets market down quite a bit.
Cheapest Grocery Store FAQs
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about the cheapest grocery stores in the United States:
What Store Has the Cheapest Groceries?
On a purely average cost basis, Aldi has the cheapest groceries. As previously mentioned, this is a result of them offering private-label options at much lower costs than their competitors.
Aldi also has an innovative supply chain, smaller stores, and they load products directly onto shelves still in warehouse packaging, all of which allow them to offer cheaper groceries.
What Store Is Cheaper Than Walmart?
There are several grocery stores that are cheaper than Walmart – Aldi, Market Basket, WinCo Foods, and Lidl, just to name a few.
However, according to a survey conducted by Cheapism, if you prefer to buy national brands (most of which the grocers mentioned above do not carry), Walmart has the best prices.
Is Aldi’s Cheaper Than Walmart?
Yes, Aldi is cheaper than Walmart. A study conducted by Cheapism, found that a grocery bill from Aldi is about 14% cheaper than the same grocery bill from Walmart.
However, the study states, “Sometimes the best grocery store is not the cheapest grocery store. Although shoppers might pay more at Kroger, the traditional grocery store beats Aldi and Walmart for sheer variety of products (both packaged and fresh), abundant sale items, and shopping convenience.”
What Is the Cheapest Online Grocery Store?
Unsurprisingly, the United States #1 online retailer Amazon came in first place for the cheapest online grocery store. Amazon is followed by Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Lowes Foods, all of which are in the top 5.
Final Thoughts on the Cheapest Grocery Stores
As demonstrated above, there are quite a few cheap grocery stores you can choose from to save money on your grocery shopping. Not only will you save money, the majority of the options on our list sell groceries from brands you know and love.
Due to this, with minimal effort, you will be able to save money on groceries without sacrificing quality and filling your fridge with low-quality food.
However, not all of the options on our list have stores all across the United States. Considering this, to determine the best option for you, simply figure out which cheap grocery stores on our list have locations where you live.
When choosing which grocery store to shop at, you should also consider how many people you’re shopping for, the type of food you want, and the brands you’re looking for. Also, don’t forget to use a rebate app, plan your meals, and look for additional sales.