Food

I Bought the Same Food at 4 Different Philly Grocery Stores. Here’s How Much I Spent at Each.

Philly food blogger Madeline Tague experimented doing her weekly shopping at Whole Foods, Acme, Trader Joe's, and Aldi — and the price differences were insane.


Photograph by Madeline Tague.

Ever wonder how much money you could save on food if you shopped at a different grocery store in Philly? Madeline Tague, the healthy food blogger behind Mad About Food, has done the research for us by spending the past month doing her weekly shopping at four different downtown grocery stores — Whole Foods, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Acme — to compare the prices. Needless to say, her results weren’t what we’d expect.

Tague, who says she spends a lot of time grocery shopping — and thinking about food in general (which, SAME) — wanted to show that her preferred grocery store, Whole Foods, can actually be a pretty practical place to shop.

“It seemed like many people thought Whole Foods was this expensive, elitist place to shop, but I find the shopping experience to be the most pleasant there and I enjoy the quality,” says Tague. “I wanted to prove that I wasn’t spending an absurd amount of money by choosing Whole Foods over a typical Philadelphia grocery store, like Acme.”

For the experiment, Tague took her weekly grocery list — primarily made up of produce and meat that she uses primarily for packed lunches and dinners — and went shopping at the start of each week at a different grocery store. For the purposes of the experiment, she avoided sale items.

“I bought almost the exact same things at each store. If I bought something organic at one store, I tried my very best to do the same at another,” says Tague. “Certain items weren’t available at certain stores, but I did my best to keep it consistent.”

At each store, Tague purchased the following: a dozen eggs, baby spinach, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, bananas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, onions, avocados, dairy-free milk, goat cheese, turkey slices, bacon, chicken breasts, grass-fed beef, and sourdough bread.

So how much did she spend? Here were her results.

The Cheapest: Aldi

Tague’s Aldi grocery haul (plus several additional sweet potatoes and onions that are not pictured here). Photograph by Madeline Tague.

Total: $46.28

The Second Cheapest: Trader Joe’s

Tague’s Trader Joe’s grocery haul. Photograph by Madeline Tague.

Total: $53.97

The Second Most Expensive: Whole Foods

Tague’s Whole Foods grocery haul. Photograph by Madeline Tague.

Total: $59.89

The Most Expensive: Acme

Tague’s Acme grocery haul. Photograph by Madeline Tague.

Total: $72.94

By the end of her month-long experiment, Tague was stunned by how much more expensive Acme was than the competition — and a little horrified when she calculated that she could save $1,386 a year buying the same foods at Aldi instead. She was pretty happy to see, however, that Whole Foods wasn’t the most expensive, as she’d suspected.

“It confirmed my previous thoughts that [Whole Foods] is fairly reasonable when you shop the perimeter of the store,” says Tague. “I always get in trouble when I load up on packaged foods, but I find that to be true at most stores.”

While Trader Joe’s was the second least expensive, she wasn’t as pleased with the quality of the produce. Going forward, Tague says she plans to start frequenting Aldi, to stop shopping at Acme, and to buy products with longer shelf lives — like nuts and oils — at Trader Joe’s.

“I had many Philadelphians tell me to check out Reading Terminal Market during this challenge, so I think that will be where I shop this weekend, but not with the same list,” says Tague. “I need some variety in my life.”

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