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Target Prices for Groceries (Frugal Friday)

Wondering what a good price is for groceries? Here are some target sale prices to look for.

groceries van

Earlier this week I shared an update on how we “eat well and spend less” at our house. My target is $800/month for our family of eight for groceries that we eat at home. (We have a separate eating out budget.)

One thing that I forgot to mention were my target prices. I’ve never been one to keep a physical price book. The prices are in my head. This is quite helpful since I usually have my head with me when I shop.

This is not helpful for my husband, though. If I wrote these prices down, then he’d know a great deal when he saw it as well.

Target prices are helpful to you because you can put our grocery budget into a better frame of reference for yourself. What individual items cost obviously has a direct impact on the final total.

Target prices for groceries

Here are the “targets” that I shoot for when shopping on a budget. I stock up when I see these prices or lower. And yes, these are actual prices that I’ve seen at my local stores within the last six to nine months. I mention the “healthy” part (ie hormone-free, GMO-free, organic) of what I typically buy so you can compare. I would be paying less if I bought conventional:

  • Bone-in chicken: $0.99/pound
  • Whole chickens: $0.69/pound
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders: $1.97/pound
  • Cuts of beef: $2.99/pound
  • Cuts of pork: $1.99/pound
  • Hormone-free milk: $2.50/gallon
  • Hormone-free butter: $3/pound
  • Hormone-free cheese: $3.50 to $4/pound
  • GMO-free cereal and crackers: $1.99/box
  • GMO, soy-free whole wheat bread: $1.99/loaf
  • Fruit (usually organic): $1/pound

You can find out more about my real life shopping trips over at Good Cheap Eats’ weekly Grocery Geek posts.

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This week the Eat Well, Spend Less crowd shared updates on how we shop and eat. Did you catch them all? Check out these links to see how these moms from California, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, West Virginia, and Montreal eat well and spend less.

How do YOUR target prices compare to mine?

Tell us! This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.

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Comments

  1. Every 6 months I take a little time to reevaluate my target prices for groceries. Here is my latest Target prices: http://practical-stewardship.com/2013/02/20/grocery-prices-to-meet-or-beat-february-2013/

    These are the prices for Costco that I compare others to: http://practical-stewardship.com/2013/04/18/test-costco-quarterly-2-natural-organic-price-list-update-130-items/#more-25761

    Thanks for sharing your Frugal Friday info every week. I really hope this comment works because I have tried to post here before and haven’t been able to leave a comment for whatever reason.

  2. Canadian prices are much higher, usually! Here’s what I aim for, NON-ORGANIC SALE prices:

    ■Bone-in chicken: $0.99/pound-WE’VE GIVEN UP AND GROW OUR OWN CHICKEN-
    ■Whole chickens: $0.69/pound
    ■Boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders: $1.97/pound
    ■Cuts of beef: $2.99/pound–COMMERCIAL BEEF 3.99; GROUND BEEF 2.99
    ■Cuts of pork: $1.99/pound–COMMERCIAL PORK 1.49
    ■Hormone-free milk: $2.50/gallon–COMMERCIAL MILK 3.97
    ■Hormone-free butter: $3/pound–COMMERCIAL BUTTER 3.60
    ■Hormone-free cheese: $3.50 to $4/pound–COMMERCIAL CHEESE 3.99 (VERY RARE)
    ■GMO-free cereal and crackers: $1.99/box–DON’T BUY
    ■GMO, soy-free whole wheat bread: $1.99/loaf–DON’T BUY
    ■Fruit (usually organic): $1/pound–COMMERCIAL $1, EXCEPT BANANAS, .57

    Wow! There is a significant difference in price! And the amazing thing is that you can get organic produce for better prices than we can get commercial products!

    Well, now I don’t feel so bad for my $1000 a month budget for 6–including 3 teens (well, one’s almost a teen) and a weight-lifting hubby and no meals out. If it weren’t for the garden and careful shopping, we could easily double that.

    Thanks for the list!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I keep trying to tell people, the only things more expensive in CA are the gas and the property. :)

      • Jenise Leaser says:

        And don’t forget the taxes! Water can be high as well, but you have to spend less on utilities. CA has amazing prices on produce though. We just got back from visiting family in San Diego and are sooo tempted to go back.

    • I agree, I get a little green eyed monstery when I seen American food prices. We’re in Alberta and my average monthly grocery bill for a family of 6 is $1000….and my kids range from 5-9! I’m terrified of when they all his the teen years at the same time! Lol. While I can’t do anything about the prices, I still get tons of good ideas here for trying to cut the cost down or at least keep it on even keel. I could easily spend $2000 a month on groceries, I just refuse to….yet. :s

  3. Your target prices are nearly identical to mine! And I live on the east coast!

    Not too sure what organic/non-GMO foods cost; I go the conventional route.

    Although, one big difference is the price in whole chickens- sale is usually $0.99/lb. But if f I go shopping at night, I can beat that price with the “manager’s special” price and that helps us save on meat.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Ralphs does the .69/lb on whole chickens a couple times a year. There’s often a limit, so I buy the limit and freeze them.

  4. WOW! In Central OH our prices are higher! I’ve pretty much given up ‘chasing coupon sales’ since most stores put too many restrictions on them & it became next to impossible to take my youngest & still be able to keep track of my list & coupons. I do most of my shopping at Sam’s Club, Meijer, Aldi, or Wal-mart. I pretty much gave up on organic.
    Bone-in chicken breast: $1.60/pound (family really doesn’t like dark meat & bones)
    Whole chickens: $0.99/pound. $0.79 when on clearance
    Boneless, skinless chicken breast: $1.87/pound (Sam’s club special, was just raised from $1.79/lb) Tender’s are easily $2.99/lb
    Cuts of beef: $3.99/lb (haven’t seen this in close to a year)
    Pork loin: $1.99/lb again Sam’s club price. I typically pick up a 8-10lb loin once a month & cut it up myself. During our last trip they raised the prices to $2.39/lb
    Hormone-free milk: $1.99/gallon (some law was past in the past few yrs, all commerical milk is now rBST free, but not all is antibiotic free) Once a month Aldi’s milk goes on sale so I buy extra & freeze. Normal price is $2.68/gal
    Butter: $2.00/lb but might need to raise that to $2.25. Normal price is anywhere from $2.99-3.50 (for generic)
    Cheese: $3.00/lb (brick cheese I need to slice myself) I can get shredded Mozzerella & Cheddar for $2.35/lb at Sam’s
    Organic cheese $4.50/lb
    Cereal: Try for $1.00/18oz but the cereal prices have gone up by $1 since Thanksgiving
    Whole wheat bread (with at least 5g fiber & 2g or less of sugar & whole wheat as the ingredient & not ‘enriched whole wheat flour’ & a taste that my kids will actually eat LOL) $1.80/loaf Wonder use to have one that I could buy at the outlet store & well…they are gone. There is a Heiner’s that the boys like but it’s too soft for me. Schwebel’s is another brand that makes a ‘light’ bread that my boys really liked but now I’m having a hard time finding it anywhere
    Bananas 0.54/ lb commercial .69 cents organic
    Apples $3.99/3lb bag commercial. $5/3lb bag organic…nothing else is in season so I haven’t checked
    Frozen vegetables 0.99/lb (yes a POUND of veggies) at Target but last month they raised most to $1.19/lb except green beans which are $1.39/lb
    After typing this up i had to laugh at myself; I no longer chase the coupon sales, but I still hit up a lot of stores. I typically shop each store once every 2 wks

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      The coupon policies at Vons and Ralphs (safeway and kroger, respectively) were getting complicated, so I gave up trying to figure them out. A lot of these prices are thanks to Costco and Trader Joe’s.

  5. Very interesting! Your prices are pretty close to mine. Produce is actually one where we buy organic and yet don’t spend a fortune – by using local resources and sales mostly. Also, Earthbound always has a coupon each week, so that helps fill in the gap. I actually posted my top 5 ways to find produce today: http://behealthybehappywellness.com/2013/04/top-5-places-to-buy-fresh-produce/

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      It was hard to report on my produce since I get a weekly organic delivery for $36 which is packed full and seasonal.

  6. Wow–I’m surprised that so many of your target prices are lower than mine here (north Alabama). Chicken is the same, but beef is never that low, except when it’s on manager’s special. Flank steak is $6/lb and I’ve never seen it go on sale! Even stew meat is $5/lb. Outrageous. :)

    Our conventional dairy is similar, although milk just went up to $3.18/gallon. The only organic fruit that’s $1/lb is bananas. And I rarely even see apples for $1/lb anymore.

    Oh–to clarify. Those are Kroger/Publix prices. Aldi definitely has *much* better deals per pound on produce, but it’s far enough away that I don’t get there every week.

    I’m sure it all evens out in the end when you consider taxes of every shape and size and other cost-of-living factors. :) Thanks for sharing–I love comparing our “normal” with other regions!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      If meat isn’t on sale, I don’t buy it. So, I stock up on whatever is on sale and freeze it.

      • And since ours don’t go on sale, I rarely buy beef cuts that aren’t on manager’s special. Too bad, because most of my favorite recipes from my mom involve roasts, flank steak, and round steak!

        • Jessica Fisher says:

          Well, here, round steak has been renamed “London broil” and is regularly the cheapest cut of meat.

          • Jenise Leaser says:

            I have been buying grass-fed stew meat for $5 a pound and fajita meat for $7 a pound. That is fresh from the farm! I get antibiotic-free, hormone-free chicken breasts on special for 2.99 as well as fresh ground chuck for 2.99. Milk has gone up over $3 again, depending on whether you buy whole or another variety.

  7. I am blown away by your prices and commenters’ prices! I live in western Arkansas and our problem is really no competition between grocery stores. Our Walmart and Aldi prices are higher than in other parts of the country. Aldi seems to set there prices here just slightly lower than the local Walmart. The only other grocery stores we have are locally owned so their prices are higher. Occasionally I get decent beef prices but ground chuck is now $3.39 a pound at Walmart. I can get it at the local butcher for that price!! Other beef cuts are $3.99 a pound. But my biggest gripe is the cost of milk. Sams Club and Aldis both sell it for about $3.57 – $3.62 a gallon for regular whole milk. Walmart wants more than $4 (!!!) a gallon for milk.

  8. Where do you live? I live in Los Angeles and pay 3.99-4.99 for regular milk at Ralphs/Kroger. Not organic milk or anything.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I’m in San Diego. We normally buy milk at Costco which is $2.50/gallon. Otherwise Walmart and Trader Joe’s and Ralphs have it for under $3. WHERE in LA are you? That might make a difference.

  9. Melinda P says:

    I live in Southern CA, in Riverside County. There are no “cool” stores in-town, like Sprouts or Costco, so I just make due with what I’ve got available.

    Bone-in chicken: $0.99/pound – Same here, .99/pound for split chicken breasts. I used to be intimidated by bone-in chicken. I finally got over it, LOL!
    Whole chickens: $0.69/pound – I haven’t seen that price in a very long time, but I’ve seen as low as .88/lb recently.
    Boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders: $1.97/pound – Here, I’ve seen $1.49/lb, but it’s rare to see it that low, more common is to see as low as about $1.79/lb
    Cuts of beef: $2.99/pound – Same here. Ground beef, anything under $2.50 lb for 15/85 or leaner. Usually very lean ground beef, like 93/7 is “on sale” for $3.99.
    Cuts of pork: $1.99/pound – Same here, though I don’t buy much pork. I hardly know what to do with it! Except for bacon – I’m usually happy when I find that at $3/lb.
    Hormone-free milk: $2.50/gallon – $2.88 per gallon.
    Hormone-free butter: $3/pound – This is one thing I say, Hey let’s buy the Kerrygold.
    Hormone-free cheese: $3.50 to $4/pound – No comparison, because I just buy whatever cheese is on sale ($3/lb is what I look for).
    GMO-free cereal and crackers: $1.99/box – For cereal, we have Kashi’s and Barbara’s available to us. Always $4-$5/box, never on sale. So, I don’t buy ‘em. Same story with crackers. $1.99/box would be a very small box that my children would eat all of in one sitting.
    GMO, soy-free whole wheat bread: $1.99/loaf – Can’t even find that here. Literally. I’m lucky if I find HFCS-free bread, and even that’s hard to find and usually costs at least $2.49 – $3 per loaf. Otherwise, I can find 100% whole wheat bread for $1.89/loaf.
    Fruit (usually organic): $1/pound – We never have any organic fruit that low, except for bananas at .99/lb (that’s the regular price, never goes on sale). Otherwise, the best organic fruit sale price I’ve seen is $1.49/lb for apples but it’s very rare for organic fruit to go on sale.

  10. My prices are pretty close to yours. Organic milk has gone up a lot here in the past few months so I was happy to see our local store (Bashas) has regular milk w/ no hormones now so I can buy that when organic is too high.

    I don’t write things down either – it’s all in my head but my 11 yr old daughter will ask me when we’re at the market what my target price on something is. She’s getting trained early! :) My family does love Oreos which I rarely buy – my target price is $2 and my husband even knows that one. It only happens a couple times a year (thankfully) so it’s a treat for them!

  11. Here in Middle TN you can add $.50-$1 per item on your list and that is how much we pay plus over 7% food tax. I am thankful to have the money to buy whatever groceries I want but I always come home thinking about how other people that are less fortunate buy groceries.

  12. I’ve noticed our grocery bill has gone up another $100/month over the past 6-9 months. Partly b/c I am tired of going to different stores for the best deals and partly b/c I’ve fallen off the coupon wagon. My kids are also eating more and we are really eating up the produce…so I don’t mind the extra expense for the convenience factor and we are eating healthier.

    Organic chicken breasts: $4.99/lb
    Organic ground beef: $5.49/lb. (we also buy into a cow so prices are $3-$4/lb for all cuts)
    Butter: $2/lb
    Milk: $4.85/ gal. (We are loyal to our local dairy)
    Cheese: $2/lb
    Cereal: $1.99/box
    Nature’s Own Whole Wheat bread: $1.39/loaf (that’s the BOGO free price…freezes well)
    Organic produce: $1.99/lb
    Conventional produce: $1.29/lb. (bananas .57/lb…pineapple $2.99 ea)

    Can’t wait for strawberry/blueberry/peach picking season…just a few weeks away!

    These prices are for East TN.

  13. Since we stopped eating anything industrially raised I gave up on my old ideas of target prices. If government subsidies went away and everyone paid what it really costs to grow and raise food, people would be very shocked. We raise our own beef and pork, eggs and dairy and belong to a CSA. Good food is worth paying for. :-)

  14. Also in TN here. 8% on food purchases (9.75% on everything else).

    At Walmart last night, store brand milk was $3.69/gal.

    I’m curious about egg prices — whenever I can, I get fresh eggs free from a family friend. The rest of the time, I’m stuck with commercial eggs. Last night, it was $4.75/3 doz, or $1.58/dozen.

    That’s approximately one week of milk and eggs for our family of five.

  15. I love seeing everyone else’s target prices. I’m in the process of comparing at the various stores in town to update my price list. I keep most of my prices in my head, but this has been good exercise to see what stores truly do have the best prices. My target prices in Fort Wayne, Indiana are similar to yours. I’m thankful that we have great dairy prices yet!

  16. I’m on the east coast of Canada, and prices are definitely WAY higher. We are building a chicken coop because we love chicken and can’t afford it. We have a large garden now and our bills are much less when we pick our salads out of the yard. I bake most of my own bread and only buy it when I’m having an ‘I feel lazy’ day on my way home from work. My husband and I dream of having a hobby farm where I could stay home and produce most of our food at home, and know that it’s all organic and hormone/cruelty free.

    ◾Bone-in chicken: $0.99/pound – sale for $2.99, normally $4.99/pound
    ◾Whole chickens: $0.69/pound – Sale $1.99 (I don’t buy normally)
    ◾Boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders: $1.97/pound – Sale $4.99 normally $11.99/pound
    ◾Cuts of beef: $2.99/pound – Sale Eye of Round – $3.99 Burger (lean) $2.99
    ◾Cuts of pork: $1.99/pound – This one can be the same for sale prices
    ◾Hormone-free milk: $2.50/gallon – No milk in Canada contains hormones $7.19/gallon (4liters)
    ◾Hormone-free butter: $3/pound – $4.99 on sale
    ◾Hormone-free cheese: $3.50 to $4/pound – Sale $5.99, regular $8.19
    ◾GMO-free cereal and crackers: $1.99/box – Box of Cheerios (family size) $8.49
    ◾GMO, soy-free whole wheat bread: $1.99/loaf – Regular whole wheat bread $3.29, nice whole grain $4.39
    ◾Fruit (usually organic): $1/pound – bananas $.69, apple $2.29, plums $2.99 (all per pound right now, non organic)

  17. Andrea Wh says:

    I would love to meet you! I live in SD with a family of 7 plus there is normally one of my husbands single friends that stop by for dinner. I recently realized that what I thought my food bill should be was WAY too low, and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t feed our family for $400 a month. lol
    I’m a frugal shopper and my target prices are almost identical to yours, I just was trying to stretch it too far.
    Thank you for the post!

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