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Driving Farther for Cheaper Grocery Store
Old 08-31-2017, 12:45 AM   #1
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Driving Farther for Cheaper Grocery Store

So, how much farther a drive would you take to go to a cheaper grocery store?

We've been going to an HEB grocery store that is usually about 25 minutes away, occasionally a couple of minutes faster. It has a good selection and has the lowest prices.

There is a Kroger that is closer (about 18 minutes, occasionally a minute faster). However, it is a relatively small store with mostly a poor selection. It is more expensive than the HEB although the extra cost is mitigated a bit by using the customer card for them and items on sale usually cost about what HEB charges for regular price. We occasionally go to the Kroger for a very few products HEB doesn't have or if it is on our way home.

(We also buy Cherry Coke Zero and each week we look up how has it on sale and go to the cheapest -- usually HEB or Kroger, but occasionally Target).

Well, earlier this month a new Kroger Marketplace opened up. It isn't in a direction we usually drive, but with stores closed due to the hurricane and roads impeded it was the closest grocery store we could get to. It took 16 minutes.

So, it is about 9 minutes closer to us than the HEB (give or take 2 minutes). Round trip going there would save us nearly 20 minutes, which is a lot.

And, it is an amazing store. It is huge with an awesome selection of stuff. I'm sure there may be some things that HEB has that it doesn't, but I loved the selection, even picked over as it was given the hurricane.

If it and HEB had equal prices we would go to the Kroger store simply because it is so much closer and the selection is better.

But, it doesn't have equal prices to HEB. It is more expensive. Not every product. It is hard to know the exact difference in prices. For some foods, Kroger is 10% more expensive. Some 20%. A few less. Some the same and a few Kroger is less.

But, overall I would say that Kroger is more. And, if it was a bad store in terms of selection or was only 2 minutes faster to get to than HEB then I wouldn't consider it. But, given the selection and the significant decrease in round trip driving to get there I'm considering it.

Would you spend more at a store to save almost 20 minutes round trip?

[As an aside: We do occasionally go to other stores. We have a few products we like from Whole Foods which is about 30 minutes away. We go there maybe once every 6 weeks or so. There will soon be an Aldi's opening about 20 minutes away. We may occasionally buy something there, but most things we buy won't be there. There are no other attractive stores that are closer to us. There is a Target which has prices similar to HEB, but it has limited selection. There is a Randalls (Safeway owned) which has similar prices to Kroger but is about 27 minutes away and only has an OK selection.]

I am strongly thinking about switching to the Kroger because I love the location and selection but sort of feel guilty switching to a more expensive store.
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:55 AM   #2
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I buy groceries from four stores - a local grocery, Target, Costco and Whole Foods. How often I go to each varies but my frequency at each is about the same order as above (most to least frequent). It depends on what I need at any given time, each has strengths and weaknesses, and different price points or quantities (Costco). I want the lowest prices for some items (staples, Amy's, chicken) which is Target & Costco in general, but the best quality for some items (produce, fish) which is the local grocer & Whole Foods here. It's been many years since I used one store for everything.
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:05 AM   #3
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We primarily shop at Giant for most of our groceries, which is just 5 minutes away. There is a Target in the same shopping center. An Aldi just opened across the street from it, but we haven't tried it yet. We also go to Costco about 10 minutes away. There is a Wegmans also 10 minutes away that we rarely use. We also like some local produce stores when they're open.
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:28 AM   #4
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Typically, we only make an out of the way trip for Ben & Jerry's on sale.
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:28 AM   #5
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There is a small Giant (I know, sounds funny) 3.5 miles from us. But we do almost all our grocery shopping at BJs, which is 13 miles (a crowded drive) away. The few things we can't get at BJs, we will buy at Giant. (There is a Wegmans close to the BJs, but the unreasonable traffic conniptions to get from one to another - and Wegmans parking competition - led us to stop going to Wegmans for the few items we'd buy there. Maybe it is just that BJs has wider aisles, but BJs customers actually seem more considerate than Wegmans).

We save at least 15% on costs, and the fewer trips (once every 2 weeks) save time, too.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:00 AM   #6
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I would not drive more than 10 minutes extra for a particular grocery store. However I will happily drive 5 minutes to get one or two items, at a particular store, since I know they have the lowest prices for those items. It burns gas but gets me out of the house, which is my excuse. I have 4 different grocery stores I go to, for different items. Plus, of course, the sales are always different. By the way, have you noticed lately there are a lot of folks just wandering around the grocery store without a cart or even a basket? I guess they are just getting one or two items. Must be a new thing.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:18 AM   #7
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With a Ralphs, Vons and Trader Joes within a couple of miles of home we try to do all our grocery shopping by bicycle.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:26 AM   #8
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I live within walking distance of my favourite supermarket, as well as several specialty food stores. Having said that, if I am doing major grocery shopping with heavy items, I drive (5 minutes). I generally shop once weekly. In summer, my shopping starts at my favourite farmers' market. I'm prepared to pay a little more for fresh local organic produce, like peaches that I can see growing! Occasionally I go to a high end grocery store across town to look for something unusual, but I always tie that in with another reason to go there.

To answer the OP's question, I would probably spend a little more to avoid driving 20 minutes for similar items. The cost of gas would probably negate any savings on groceries. The hassle wouldn't be worth it (to me) and I would prefer to save the environmental cost.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:49 AM   #9
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Being fortunate enough to live in a more densely populated area, we have a choice of 9 supermarkets within 5 miles of our house (Aldi, Stop&Shop (x2), Shoprite, Whole Foods, Trader Joe, Adams, Costco and Walmart). We usually start at Aldi, because it is the cheapest by far. We buy everything we can there, then we top off our grocery list at Shoprite or one of the Stop & Shops. We go to Trader Joe about once a month, and to Whole Foods about once or twice a year (they have good fresh oysters).

As to the distance/cost question, I guess you'd have put a dollar value on your time to make that decision.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:50 AM   #10
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First we buy local but only buy what is on sale and that dictates what we are eating at any given time. We also stock up some when things go on sale. We only buy sale item period.

However we travel to a town about 50 miles away and their groceries are so much cheaper then in our town even if items are on sale. When we go there we buy again sale items and things that are cheaper.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:04 AM   #11
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When we are staying at the mountain house, I drive an extra 15 minutes to get to a cheaper and better grocery store. The market in the closest town is small, expensive, and has bad produce. I happily drive extra when I need more than one or two items.

I have a plethora of choices at the main house, but Wegmans is my go-to grocer. Some people think Wegmans is expensive, but I don't believe it for the things I typically buy. One of my friends uses a discount grocery and likes to brag that things are cheaper than at Wegmans, but that store is dirty and half of the cashiers look like they are meth addicts.

Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite chores. I'll gladly pay a little more to make the experience pleasant.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:18 AM   #12
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We go to HEB most of the time... the Kroger is about the same distance but the opposite direction...

As you say, HEB is mostly cheaper... at times my DW will go farther to one of two larger HEBs for some reason (not sure as ours is plenty big)...

We used to go to Randalls off and on when their ads showed something cheaper.... but they closed down the one close to us and now it is so far away compared to the other two we never go... even if something is on sale... we know HEB will have it on sale at some time....
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:21 AM   #13
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There is a Winn-Dixie 10 minutes away so I use that one mostly. Walmart has one of their Market grocery stores just another 2 minutes way but prices are not much different. I'm not an anti Walmart guy but I hate to see them take over everything. So that's another reason I shop at WD.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:36 AM   #14
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I use 3 stores- Costco, which is 25 minutes away, every week; a local chain 3 miles away, also weekly, for things I can't get at Costco (or which Costco sells in larger quantities than I can use), and another local chain next to the gym I use daily if I run out of something. I'm shifting more and more of my buying to Costco. I've been tracking grocery spending for the last few years and grocery bills were actually going down significantly, so I think the extra miles to Costco are worth it.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:40 AM   #15
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You didn't mention the amount you spend on groceries, that does make a difference. I have read your weight?WW blog and I'm wondering what you buy that Adli's doesn't stock. We try to do low card and have great luck at Adlis
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:23 AM   #16
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Distance is not really a factor for us. Within a 5 mile radius, we have 3 Krogers, 3 Aldis, Walmart, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Target, Brookshires, Sprouts, Albertsons, Sams, and WinCo. That said, we usually shop at Brookshires because it is very close, smaller in size, has great people, and decent prices and selection. For seafood, we go to Kroger or Albertsons, which have better selection and better prices. We go to Sprouts for certain produce we can't get at Brookshires.

We are fairly strict low-carb eaters, so we shop for fresh meat and produce every 4 or 5 days. I only buy meat that's on sale and stock it up in the freezer. They rotate the sales so that we always have a good selection on hand. Produce is a different story... I don't worry as much about price. I just buy whatever looks great and then build meals around that for the next few days.
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:27 AM   #17
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I can't imagine driving more than five minutes to any store. But that, and never sitting through more than one cycle of a traffic light, is part of the joy of small town living. It is just a math problem. Calculate the cost to each store as about $0.50 per mile (gas plus other car costs) and compare that to the relative costs of your groceries. You might have to go to all three in one day with a sample shopping list and not buy anything but simply add up the cost for the whole list at each store. Then look at the benefit in reduced groceries versus the car savings. That's more trouble than I'd go to for small savings but it is how an engineer would work the problem if he really wanted to know.
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:43 AM   #18
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There's a 15 minute drive either north or south to Walmart or BJs, and 30 seconds to get to Publix. Half an hour away is the base commissary.

Once a month I'll go to BJs to stock up on bulk house supplies, and groceries we go through in bulk.

Once a week I go to Publix for their BOGO sales, and to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies.

Once every few months I go to Walmart to grab something neither BJs nor Publix carries, or carries a lot cheaper.

I used to go to the base commissary where I could get a variety of meats for under $1/lb, but an hour round trip just isn't in the cards anymore, and once you're eating at a proper calorie level to support a healthy weight, an extra $2-5/lb just isn't that big of a hit on a grocery bill. Plus the added convenience fee they've added the last few years, and tipping the bagger, and extra gas, it just isn't much cheaper. Fruits and veggies cost far more in comparison, and that's heavily alleviated if you have a garden.

Now I'm getting ready to move to a place where Publix won't open for another 8-10 months, and there's only a Costco an hour away. I feel so spoiled right now by comparison.
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:54 AM   #19
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I live close to Publix so that is my go to store . I also go to Aldi's or Fresh Market occasionally . I like Fresh Market but I spend more when I go there so I limit my trips . I like Aldi's and I am always surprised at how low my bill is .
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:00 AM   #20
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Also: In the past 2-3 years I've ordered virtually all our cleaning and drugstore items ((plus an increasing share of our dry-goods food (cereals, cake mix, honey, sweets)) online. Don't know how long "buy $XX and get free shipping" will last, but for the time being, it's saving lots of driving time.
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