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I know I already made a couple of posts about how to save money grocery shopping, but I thought it might be helpful to do a deep-dive into the prices of a couple stores to determine which one is the cheapest. When you’re at any grocery store it can be hard to know exactly which things are a good deal and which aren’t. You can never tell when a “sale” is actually a sale unless you know what the price normally is.
I’m also wary of deals in general, because it can be tempting to get in a habit of buying good deals when you see them and think you’re saving money when you’re actually just consuming more than you need to. It happens to be Earth Day today, and it’s a good time to point out that overconsumption isn’t exactly great for you or the planet.
Anyway, we went grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago at Publix for the first time. We heard that they had been better at rationing their supplies during the pandemic than other grocery stores, so we thought they would have a good selection. It’s no secret that I love Aldi, so it was a little difficult to get myself to try a new store. When we had finished shopping, I knew we had spent a lot, but it wasn’t until the total came out that I realized just how much: $233! We were stocking up for the month, so it was no surprise that this trip was going to be significantly more expensive than our average trip. But over $200 was an eye-opener. We definitely got a lot of stuff, but it didn’t feel like over $200 worth of stuff. Especially since we had discovered the Publix BOGO.
Publix has lots of BOGOs all over their store with name brand products. I was amazed at how cheap some of the BOGOs seemed. Was our trip so expensive because we just didn’t get enough BOGOs? Did we Publix wrong? I was intrigued. I went back home and did some research to get to the bottom of which store had the better deals. I went on Instacart for Aldi and Publix and went through over 100 products to compare them between the two stores.
I chose 35 BOGO deals from Publix and compared them to 35 equivalent products from Aldi (although, not name brand because Aldi only carries generic brands with cute names like Friendly Farms and Baker’s Corner – did I mention I love Aldi? Don’t worry though, I was impartial for this study). I also wanted to see how Publix generics compared to Aldi generics, so I also chose 35 Publix generics to compare to Aldi. Right off the bat, with the BOGO deals vs the Aldi generics, Aldi prices beat Publix prices on 20 out of the 35 items, and Publix beat Aldi on 14 out of the 35 items (1 item was an exact tie between the two stores).
Think for a second what that means. On buy one get one free deals, the Publix items are effectively half off. That means the Aldi items were less than HALF of the normal price of the Publix items, which is incredible. But how much does that really tell us? For one thing, 20 vs 14 is still pretty close, that’s about a 60/40 split. But also, that includes items like mini marshmallows, which were technically a better price at Aldi by $0.0005 per ounce. That’s half of a tenth of a penny. I don’t know about you, but even I’m not frugal enough to care about that small of a difference. So, I decided to include “ties” between the stores. I considered anything within 1 cent per ounce to be a tie. With that consideration in mind, there were 13 ties out of the 35 products, 10 wins for Publix, and 12 wins for Aldi.
Then I wondered, what about “big wins”? What about the products that one store had way cheaper prices on? So, I decided to look into any products that were 5 cents per ounce or more different between the two stores. 5 cents per ounce may not seem like a lot, but when you’re buying 20 pounds worth of groceries, that’s a $16 difference. There were only 7 “big wins” between the two stores: 5 for Publix and 2 for Aldi. The biggest difference being 9 cents per ounce on Publix Planter’s cashews vs Aldi cashews.
But overall, I think it’s safe to say that it’s about the same to shop at Aldi or Publix, but only if you shop the BOGO deals. You have about a 1 out of 3 chance that the BOGO deal you find is about the same as the equivalent Aldi product. There’s also a 1 out of 3 chance it’s a better deal, and a 1 out of 3 chance it’s a worse deal. There’s also only a 14% chance (5 out of 35) it’s a significantly better deal, and only a 6% chance (2 out of 35) it’s a significantly worse deal than Aldi. So, read that data however you want, but to me that means as long as I’m only buying BOGO deals at Publix, I might as well be at Aldi, because they’re about the same. In fact, if you bought all 35 items at both stores (in the exact same quantities), you would spend $77.99 at Publix and $74.96 at Aldi. That’s only a $3.03 difference, not bad.
However, shopping for generics between the two stores is a different store-y (I’ll see myself out). Below are all the same comparisons done between the Publix generics and the Aldi generics.
As you can see, Aldi generics are way better deals than Publix generics, which also means that Publix BOGO deals are way better than Publix generics. On any given generic, there’s an 85% chance it’s a better deal at Aldi than Publix! There’s only a 4% chance it’s a better deal at Publix, and an 11% chance it’s about the same between the 2 stores. Not only are the deals better at Aldi, they’re a lot better. Out of the 35 generic items compared, Aldi had “big wins” on 24 of them! And, if you were to buy all those generic items at both stores, your bill would be $119.68 at Publix and $73.57 at Aldi. That’s a $46.11 difference!
So there you have it. For what it’s worth, I think Aldi beats Publix in this matchup. I’ve never been much of a fan of brand name products, and I like knowing that no matter what I buy in Aldi, it’s going to be a good deal. If you love getting deals on name brand products, then Publix is probably the better option for you, but your deals will mainly be limited to what Publix is offering on BOGO each week. Based on the products I looked at, I wouldn’t consider most of what I saw on the BOGO list as essentials, so it would be difficult to get everything you need if you only buy those deals.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably realize just how crazy I am. Thanks for sticking through it, and I hope this helps you save some money on groceries!
You have about a 1 out of 3 chance that the BOGO deal you find is about the same as the equivalent Aldi product. There’s also a 1 out of 3 chance it’s a better deal, and a 1 out of 3 chance it’s a worse deal. There’s also only a 14% chance (5 out of 35) it’s a significantly better deal, and only a 6% chance (2 out of 35) it’s a significantly worse deal than Aldi. If you bought all 35 items at both stores (in the exact same quantities), you would spend $77.99 at Publix and $74.96 at Aldi. That’s only a $3.03 difference, not bad.
On any given generic, there’s an 85% chance it’s a better deal at Aldi than Publix! There’s only a 4% chance it’s a better deal at Publix, and an 11% chance it’s about the same between the 2 stores. Out of the 35 generic items compared, Aldi had “big wins” on 24 of them! And, if you were to buy all those generic items at both stores, your bill would be $119.68 at Publix and $73.57 at Aldi. That’s a $46.11 difference!