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Supermarket Showdown: Where is the Cheapest Place to Buy Groceries?

We price tested seven supermarkets in the eight Boston neighborhoods Patch serves. The result? Trader Joe's is cheapest (though you won't find rotisserie chicken there.)

Supermarkets — they're big news in Boston. Last year's controversy in JP when a Whole Foods replaced a Latino market led to arrests. This year, Charlestown is embroiled in a debate about Whole Foods taking over Johnnie's Foodmaster. 

At the heart of these discussions is whether we, as Bostonians, will have access to affordable food.

To test prices, the Boston Patch editors each went out to various supermarkets in our respective neighborhoods on Thursday, Sept. 6. Here's our shopping list:

  • MacIntosh Apples (price per pound) 
  • Bananas (price per pound) 
  • Zucchini (price per pound)
  • Corn (price per pound)
  • 2% Milk (gallon)
  • Large eggs (dozen)
  • Whole rotisserie chicken
  • Box of cereal
  • Can of chicken noodle soup
  • White bread (loaf)
  • Toilet paper (six pack)

In some cases, prices had to be approximated due to some stores not carrying a specific item (in the case of Macintosh apples) or because some stores sold certain goods by the pound while other sold it by the piece.

To keep it apples-to-apples, we sought ought the cheapest available option in each store. So, yes, that excludes some of the higher-end, higher-quality organic products.

Here is the list of the supermarkets, from costliest to cheapest. Please note we had to exclude the whole rotisserie chicken because it isn't sold at Trader Joe's. If you include that item, Whole Foods becomes the most expensive store:

  1. , South End — $24.84
  2. Whole Foods, Cambridge Street, West End — $24.05
  3. , West Roxbury — $23.64
  4. , JP — $21.76
  5. , Charlestown — $20.79
  6. Shaw's Landmark Center, Fenway — $20.61
  7. , Back Bay — $18.06

 


Fenway Shaws Charlestown Foodmaster West End Whole Foods W. Rox Roche Brothers Back Bay Trader Joe's JP Stop & Shop South End Foodie's AVERAGE MacIntosh Apples (lb.) $1.89 $1.99 $1.99 $1.99 $1.49 $1.99 $1.79 $1.88 Bananas (lb.) $0.74 $0.79 $0.79 $0.79 $0.51 $0.69 $0.79 $0.73 Zucchini (lb.) $1.99 $1.99 $2.49 $1.99 $1.84 $1.99 $1.49 $1.97 Corn (lb.) $0.50 $0.42 $0.63 $0.63 $0.63 $0.75 $0.49 $0.58 2% Milk (gallon) $3.49 $2.79 $3.59 $3.99 $3.39 $1.69 $4.39 $3.33 Large eggs (dozen) $2.99 $1.99 $2.89 $2.49 $1.99 $2.59 $1.99 $2.42 Whole rotisserie chicken $7.99 $6.99 $9.99 $5.00

Not sold

$7.99 $8.73 $6.67 Box of cereal $3.59 $2.39 $2.50 $2.69 $1.99 $2.99 $3.89 $2.86 Can of chicken noodle soup $1.99 $0.75 $2.79 $1.99 $1.49 $2.69 $1.83 $1.93 White bread (loaf) $1.39 $2.99 $2.99 $2.39 $2.49 $1.39 $4.49 $2.59 Toilet paper (six pack) $2.04 $4.69 $3.39 $4.69 $2.24 $4.99 $3.69 $3.68 TOTAL $28.60 $27.78 $34.04 $28.64 $18.06 $29.75 $33.57 $28.63
Fenway Shaws Charlestown Foodmaster West End Whole Foods W. Rox Roche Brothers Back Bay Trader Joe's Jamaica Plain Stop & Shop South End Foodie's AVERAGE Without Prepared Chicken $20.61 $20.79 $24.05 $23.64 $18.06 21.76 $24.84 $21.96 Produce Total $5.12 $5.19 $5.90 $5.40 $4.47 5.42 $4.56 $5.15 Processed and Prepared Total $13.57 $10.13 $15.28 $9.68 $3.48 13.67 $14.45 $11.47 Milk, Eggs, Bread $7.87 $7.77 $9.47 $8.87 $7.87 5.67 $10.87 $8.34

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