Thursday, June 04, 2015

Cost Comparing Safeway, Fred Meyer and WinCo

With my new role as housewife, one of my biggest jobs is managing household finances. That isn't to say that The Man doesn't also manage money, but that without my additional income, I now contribute real value by decreasing costs or using money even more wisely. We've cut corners wherever we can in the rest of our budget, so looking to food to save money is the next step.

The Man and I are probably fairly normal when it comes to grocery shopping. We've always tried to buy on sale when we can and use coupons or store promotions to save a few bucks, but we still buy the food we want regardless of the price. We're also very picky eaters and like our food just so, which can be challenging on a budget.

Note: I did not venture into any Wal-Mart stores or Target for this cost comparison. The Man and I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart on principle, and the Target in our area has an extremely limited food section. We also have some 'bent and dent' food stores, but I wanted to compare apples to apples as much as possible. Thus, I also left out Costco, despite having to go to Costco on the same day as these other stops.

I put together a varied shopping list with items from around the store. The items had to be exactly the same including brand and size. The regular and sale prices on the day I was in the store were noted. I did not factor in the use any coupons, store promotions outside of sticker-price sales, or rewards for gas or cash back. Note that in the Safeway sale and Fred Meyer sale columns below, if an item was on sale, I listed the sale price. If the item was not on sale, I listed the full price as that is what I would have paid for the item.

So! WinCo wins the price competition even over the sale prices at Safeway and Fred Meyer. Safeway's sale prices weren't as good as Fred Meyer's regular prices (or were just barely). If we're just talking about saving money, WinCo wins by a landslide.


WinCo is out of the way for me, requires me to take my own bags, isn't remotely as clean or organized as the other two stores, is terribly crowded, and has long lines. The produce looked sad. They don't take as many coupons or offer as many promotions, and they don't take credit cards (not that we put groceries on our credit card--we don't--but some people want to build up their credit card rewards). When I do get to WinCo and I remember to take in my own bags, and I'm there at an off-peak time, that bulk section makes the trip totally worth it.

Safeway is the most expensive, but their "Just for U" pricing helps me save money on items I buy often. They take manufacturer's coupons and offer their own coupons via circulars in the store and on the Safeway app for my phone. Safeway also offers gas rewards that we can use at all of the Safeway and Chevron gas stations in the area. Outside of a florist, Safeway has the longest lasting flowers around, and their deli always has quality food ready to go.

Fred Meyer has the most liberal coupon policy, even allowing me to add coupons from P&G and Redplum right to my loyalty card. They have numerous sales and coupons offered for various sections of the store. They also have gas rewards that can be used at Fred Meyer gas stations or Shell stations, and they offer "Fred Meyer Rewards," a rebate program that rewards shoppers with 1% cash back each quarter. With a large garden section, just about all of the housewares one could want--including SodaStream, which we have--and a very respectable clothing section (all of which can add to the rewards!), it's tough to beat shopping here. But due to it's popularity, Fred Meyer can be busy. I was in the store on a weekday around 11:00am, and I had to wait to move down a few less popular aisles. The cereal aisle? Forget it.

I'm tempted to add Market of Choice just for giggles. The Man gets beer there, so I've had a chance to pop in and see what the overpriced fuss was all about. Bulk pasta sells for about $1.00 per pound at WinCo, and I saw the exact same wagon wheel pasta at Market of Choice for $4.00 per pound. No thanks!

Where do you shop? How do you find the best deals?


Everyday Obscurity said...

Rats! After yet another infuriating trip to our local Winco this morning (it's the customers, not the store itself) I swore that we were going to start shopping exclusively at Safeway. A 30-ish% difference in prices? I guess I'll suck it up and find a new off-peak time to go to Winco. Sad day. Great job on all the price comparisons though!

Jules said...

I tried to do a cost comparison spreadsheet once for Fred's, Winco, Roth's, and Cash/Carry. Yours looks much nicer than mine :) We mainly stick to WinCOo b/c feeding 7 people doesn't leave a lot of room for pickiness on my part. But I also go to Fred's frequently now since it is close to the kids' school, and the Reward points for fuel are awesome.

Tiffany Booth said...

Ugh, I miss winco so much! And Tillmook products that don't cost an arm and a leg. Heck, I miss the pnw!!