So Alex and I have an ongoing debate about the cost of shopping at a regular grocery store (my former store was Safeway) verses a store like Trader Joe’s. When I originally switched grocery stores I did it because I could easily find foods that were additive free. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a cheaper alternative I just wanted to feed my kid food that was free of junk. I had an idea in my head that TJ’s was expensive and more ‘fancy’ than we needed. Since then I’ve fallen in love with TJ’s. The frozen food section is genius for a fast meal, the produce is usually great tasting (albeit sometimes more pricey), and there are so many great healthy items to pack in a kid’s bento. Ara loves shopping with me, they have kid sized carts and she knows just where to find her favorite foods.
So on one recent occasion when Alex and I were having our usual debate about TJ’s costing too much and idea popped into my head! We love to watch myth busters so I thought it would be fun to bust this ‘myth’ that eating healthy, additive free foods doesn’t have to break the budget.
I’m excited to compare, I’m not totally sure how TJ’s prices will stand up since I usually just buy what fits into my weekly budget, it might be that I simply buy less at TJ’s. I am optimistic though, that I can prove TJ’s to be a healthy and affordable option for most items.
I am only going to compare items I buy regularly. This week will be breakfast bars, almond milk, bagels, and ketchup.
Organic breakfast bars. Most school days Ara eats a bar for breakfast.
Trader Joe’s: 6 for 1.69 (0.28/bar)
Safeway: 8 for 2.49 (on sale for 1.99)(0.31/bar or 0.24/bar on sale)
Trader Joe’s brand vs. Eating Right at Safeway. I couldn’t compare Safeway’s in-store brand because they don’t make a healthy bar and for that matter I couldn’t find an organic bar. I found that Safeway is regularly more expensive AND includes high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and doesn’t list any organic ingredients. A definite win for TJ’s on this one.
Ingredient lists below:
Trader Joe’s Fig flavor.
Eating Right Apple flavor.
Trader Joe’s: 12oz for 2.49
SaraLee: 17oz for 4.99
Safeway didn’t have a store brand for mini bagels, and yes they HAVE to be mini, they’re bento food! SaraLee came out more expensive by 9 cents and includes high fructose corn syrup, additives, and isn’t whole wheat. TJ’s has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, not to mention no High fructose corn syrup. SaraLee is the only brand of mini bagel that our Safeway carries.
The winner, Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Mini Bagels, healthier and cheaper.
TJ 24oz 1.99 .08/oz
SW 20oz 2.79 .14/oz
Safeway’s price is almost double that of Trader Joe’s for the Organic Ketchup. I like this comparison because the ingredients are very similar and both organic. Ounce for ounce organic ketchup will cost you more at Safeway. I will concede that if I were to buy non-organic ketchup (which is not available at TJ’s) then Safeway would be cheaper.
On to milk!
We buy this as a treat, I realize it has preservatives. Ara is sensitive to dairy so we try to stay away from cow’s milk but there’s no stopping our love of cheese or ice cream. Sorry cows.
TJ 32 FL OZ 1.99
SW 32 FL OZ 2.99 (and recently price slashed from 3.25)
Sorry Safeway. Almond milk will cost you a dollar more at Safeway. I wish I’d thought to compare the TJ’s brand of soy and rice milk since I do buy those, depending on what I’m using them for. Maybe next trip. I like that I was able to compare exact brands though!
I will make sure I compare water next time because I’m pretty sure TJ’s will lose that comparison. Maybe some frozen foods and snack items like cookies. I haven’t done a produce comparison because this week I’m buying at Sunflower Market. I do that from time to time when the ads look good. I should also mention that I’ve been trying some of TJ’s household products. Reusable lavender dryer sheets, shampoo, reusable paper towel cloths, and cleaning spray. I’ve since decided to try making my own cleaning spray! I’ve been reading up and using baking soda and vinegar to clean and loving it! But, that’s a whole different post.