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Monday, January 25, 2010

Organic Shopping Experiment II

I've been doing a little experiment ...
My family is making changes to eat more whole foods. We've also decided to purchase some of our foods organic. We also have a grocery budget to work with - and stick to. So, that meant determining where I'd get the biggest bang for my buck when purchasing organic foods. For me, that means buying meat without hormones or antibiotics (grass-fed), buying dairy products and eggs organically (no hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides), and buying produce on the EWA's "dirty dozen" list organically. All canned, frozen foods, and fresh produce not on the EWA's "dirty dozen" list will be purchased conventionally. We will also be purchasing as little convenience foods as possible.

We all know buying organic usually means paying more. So, I've been shopping around trying to determine which stores have the best prices. I've been taking notes and keeping a price book. If you missed last week's post I compared prices between three local (Chattanooga, TN) whole foods stores: Fresh Market, EarthFare, and Green Life Grocery. You can see it HERE.

This week I visited three local conventional markets: Kroger, Publix, and Ingles. I have to admit that what I found suprised me. I thought I had a good idea of who had the lowest prices, but what I found was quite different than what I expected. You can see my comparisons below.

Here is what I found when checking prices at all three stores:
(I will list K for Kroger, I for Ingles, and P for Publix. I will denote the lowest price in bold If a store isn't listed under one or more of the following items it is because there was not an organic option at that store).

Organic Apples
P: $4.99 for a 3 lb. bag

Organic Baby Carrots
I: $1.98 K: $2.11 P: $1.29
Cheaper than EarthFare & Green Life

Organic Lettuce All Varieties (5 - 10 oz)
K: $3.99 P: $2.99
Earthfare has the cheapest price at $3.99/BOGO

Organic Eggs
I: $3.77 K: $4.49 P: $3.79
Earthfare has the cheapest price at $2.18

Organic 2% Milk Gallon
I: $5.43 K: $5.58 P: $5.79
Earthfare has the cheapest price at $4.39

Organic Yogurt (single cups)
I: $0.88 K: $1 P: $0.80
Earthfare has the cheapest price at $0.49

Organic Yogurt 32 oz.
I: $3.58 K: $3.99 P: $2.99
Cheaper than EarthFare & Green Life

Organic YoBaby Yogurt
I: $3.18 K: $3.79 $3.69

Organic Sour Cream
K: $3.49
Earthfare has the cheapest price at $3.39

Organic Cheese (Organic Valley Brand)
I: $3.18 K: $4.99
Cheaper than EarthFare & Green Life

Organic Butter 1 lb.
I: $5.58 K: $4.29
Earthfare has the cheapest price at $4.19

Organic Cream Cheese
I: $2.28 K: $2.99 P: $3.69
Cheaper than EarthFare & Green Life

Organic Apple Juice Gallon
I: $5.58 K: $5.98 P: $6.58
Cheaper than EarthFare & Green Life

Grass-fed Ground Chuck
I: $4.98 K: $3.99 P: $3.99
Cheaper than EarthFare & Green Life

Natural (Antibiotic and Hormone Free) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
I: $5.78 K: $5.99 P: $4.99
Greenlife and Publix are tied for the cheapest price.

My Final Conclusions:

Overall, EarthFare still has the most products at the cheapest price. Ingles would be another great regular stop since they have nearly as many products at the lowest price. The only big exception to these "rules" are on meat. Kroger or Publix would be a great place to stop for grass-fed beef. Kroger's grass-fed beef is actually organic and Publix's is just "natural." And, for chicken Greenlife and Publix's prices are the same.

I have two more stores to check: Bi-Lo and Food Lion. I am pretty sure both stores have a limited selection on organic foods. So, I think my decisions are pretty much made. I'll be shopping EarthFare once every two weeks for fresh produce and some dairy since they are further away. I will shop at Ingles for other things on the weeks in between and to pick up milk when we run out. I'll still be shopping at Walmart for other non-organic/conventional foods when the pantry needs stocking. And, I'll grab meat maybe once a month at Kroger. My mom works really close to Green Life so she'll swing by and grab some chicken when we need it. I'll be working out a schedule so that I can figure out how to make my grocery money stretch and how to make the most of my time and gas money. It may take a while to work it out - but stay tuned... I'll be sharing as I learn.

To read past "Organic on a Budget" posts go HERE.


Anita said...

Watch for the final markdowns on meat at Ingles. I got grass fed, organic Filet Mignon (2 steaks) for 5.99 not too long ago. And they often have sales on organic chicken. I always check the meat just to be sure.

The Broadricks said...

Bi-lo should have organic apples 3# bags for are doing a wonderful thing for your family and seem to be in line with so many others seeking the same for their families as the new year begins. Thanks for so much info!

WarmMom said...

thanks Denise for the posts recently - we're trying hard here too. I know it does cost more but the organic meat actually tastes better so more of it is eaten in the long run. Do you have a Sprouts? They have great meat specials.

leah mcgrath, Ingles Dietitian said...

Thanks - at Ingles we are trying hard to meet the demands of our customers who want good quality certified organic products at reasonable prices!

Carly said...

Thanks for focusing on this. I am trying to be on a budget but also incorporate organic products and this is very helpful!