Monday, October 8, 2012

Comparison Shopping: Whole Foods vs. Kroger

Much to the horror of my budget savvy friends, Whole Foods is my go-to grocery store.  I realize that it is not the most economical across the board, but I have my reasons for shopping there besides the fact that it smells oh so good I inhale a contented sigh whenever I walk in the door.  Keep in mind that I don't buy all of my groceries there.  As mentioned previously, I buy a lot of my pantry staples through Azure Standard. I get produce, milk, eggs, and meat through local farmers.  For me the grocery store just fills in any gaps I may have.

1. Tortillas Yes, this sounds like a silly reason to pick a grocery store, but it's important.  It is the only place that I have found yummy tortillas that do not contain hydrogenated oils, preservatives, or other scary ingredients.  I do realize that one can make homemade tortillas for less expensive, however that person would not be me.  For some reason, homemade tortillas are my unicorn.  I have tried multiple recipes, different pressing techniques; I was even given instruction in Mexico by a Mexican.  It never works.  My tortillas come out thicker than they should, they don't roll easily, and they rarely inflate during the cooking process. (The true test of whether or not you are ready to marry according to Mexican standards.  Lucky for me my husband is not Mexican.)

2. Convenience I like that Whole Foods has not just one option for healthy foods, but several.  Shopping at Whole Foods does not negate the need to read labels, none the less, chances are I'm going to find an option that is satisfactory.  At the regular grocery stores I have to hunt and search for a product that I'm okay with consuming, and sometimes I can't even find what I'm looking for.

3. Location I have friends who swear by Trader Joe's and who say Central Market is better than Whole Foods.  That may be, but I would have to drive to Fort Worth or Dallas to shop there.  Whole Foods is not the closest natural grocer.  There is a Sprouts that is a little closer in driving time.  However, it is out of the way of anywhere else I would go, whereas Whole Foods is close to my church and is often within my route of errands I run.  The other options just aren't worth the extra gas to me.

All that being said, I do occasionally run in to a conventional grocery store for odds and ends.  Sometimes Whole Foods either doesn't have what I want or more likely it costs more than I'm willing to shell out.  Hence, today I went to both Whole Foods and Kroger and decided to do a little comparison shopping.  My findings are below.

Food Whole Foods            Kroger
Organic Frozen corn 2.39 3.79
Conventional Garlic 0.89 0.50
Organic Onion (3lbs) 3.99   Not available
Organic Tortillas 1.99                      Not available
Sundried Organic Tomato Paste  0.89 0.79 sale price
Conventional Avocado 1.29 0.78
Conventional Lime 0.33 0.20
Negro Modelo (didn't buy) 8.99 8.69
Organic unsalted butter 3.99 6.29
Pumpkin 1.29 1.00 sale price
Organic Sugar (2 lbs) 3.69 3.33
5 oz. can evaporated milk   Not available 0.65
Organic Apple Butter 4.49 4.89
Total of Items Available
Both Places 28.24 30.26

Interestingly enough, Whole Foods was less expensive in total on items that were available both places.  The only thing not available at Whole Foods was the 5 oz size of evaporated milk which I don't buy on a regular basis.  I just needed it for a new recipe.  I didn't actually buy the Negro Modelo which I needed for a particular recipe.  Instead I bought a $3.69 large bottle of Corona Extra to avoid going over budget.  This item I only found at Kroger.  (Once again, not a normal purchase.)  Side note: Sundried tomato paste was $5.49 for a tube.  See the strike-through above?  So. not. worth. it.
Whole Foods buys: Not a lot, but enough to fill in the gaps

My grand total at both stores was $32.98, 52 cents under budget for the week.  Some items I considered not including in the budget as they were bought to make a dessert for a meeting.  However, I decided to include them because it's part of my real life.  I must confess that I sent my husband to the store the next day for bacon as I overlooked that ingredient in a recipe I planned.  And he didn't even buy the "healthy" bacon. As a result, I am actually over budget this week by whatever the cost of the bacon is minus 52 cents.  I will take it out of next week's budget.  Promise.

Week One in Review

Day 3
Breakfast: Apple Pie Breakfast (This recipe was a hit!  Even my non-oatmeal-eating child ate two helpings!  Hint: Add cinnamon to the recipe and keep the cooking time short. Don't tell them it's oatmeal.  Call it apple pie breakfast. It's not lying, that's the recipe's name.  If they ask you what's in it, say grain instead of oatmeal.)
Lunch: Leftover Chinese Chicken from Monday's dinner, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup for sick child :(
Snack: Apple and peanut butter
Dinner: Zuni Stew (Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook)  I forgot to mention last post that I cooked a pot of pinto beans in the crock pot overnight for this recipe.

Day 4
Breakfast: Leftovers (zucchini muffins and apple pie breakfast)
Lunch: Out (surprise catch-up lunch with a good friend)
Snack: Quinoa Pizza Bites (from the freezer)
Dinner: Tomato Salad, Leftover Chicken

Day 5
Breakfast: Zucchini and cheese Omelet
Lunch: Out (Pizza during shopping trip at Whole Foods)
Snack: Apples
Dinner: Out

Day 6
Breakfast: Leftover Rice Hot Breakfast Cereal
Lunch: Sweet Summer Corn Chowder (the bacon culprit)
(Put leftover Zuni Stew, pinto beans, and chicken noodle soup in the freezer.  Baked Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies and Apple Butter Cupcakes.)
Dinner: Out (We got a bonus date night since the kids stayed the night at the grandparents!)

Day 7
Breakfast: Eggs, Toast, Bacon
Lunch: Shredded Beef Tacos with Avocado and Lime
Dinner: Chicken Caprese Sandwiches 
After dinner treat: Homemade popcorn

We ate out a more this past week than is typical for us.  Our normal habit is I eat something out on Friday when I'm running errands, and we eat out after church on Sunday.  My husband eats out almost every day for lunch and I try to let it go because I'm not in his shoes and I value my marriage. ;)  This week we traded Sunday lunch for Friday dinner because we just felt like going out.  I got to go out to lunch with a friend I haven't talked to in months if not years on Thursday, and my husbands parents offered to let the kids spend the night on Saturday.  When these opportunities come up in life you smile and take them.  And you put the extra leftovers in the freezer for another day.


  1. I want you to teach me about meal planning/ food budgeting. Once I marry Mr. Endlessly-Bottomless-Pit, I'm going to have to grow in these areas. Help!

  2. You made me laugh. It's a deal. :)