Cheap Tricks – Saving at the Grocery Store – W.Vill edition

Cheap Tricks – West Village Grocery Edition – this article appeared in WestView Feb, 2012

I don’t know about you, but there’s just some price-tags I find obscene. And maybe not too surprisingly, the ones on the bottom of fancy shoes DON’T fit into this category.  I think nothing of a $15 bottle of hairspray, or a $120 pair of boots, but a $6.99 box of cereal offends me. To me, this feeling makes no sense, yet makes all the sense in the world. In short: I don’t want to be ripped off. I’m cheap.  I’ve already tried to get that brand of hairspray for less, and those leopard-print booties on sale, and it’s just not to be. But any fool knows that cereal can be had for under $3 if you just put forth a little effort.  And such begins my quest to find the cheapest prices for the things we all need and use, from clothes to food to beauty products to kids stuff. Today, we’re talking food. You may not love leopard-print, but everyone eats.

I buy the same things at the grocery store all the time. Maybe you do too. Eggs, milk, that yummy Chobani Greek yogurt (pineapple, please) fresh spinach, etc. I picked three stores in the general area (D’Agostino’s at the corner of Greenwich and Bethune Streets, Western Beef on 16th Street, and Food Emporium at 6th Avenue and 12th Street) and started shopping.

The List:

Scott Towels (102 ct)

Kellogg’s Special K Cereal with Red Berries (12 oz)

Eggs, 1 dozen large

Oscar Meyer Roasted Turkey (9 oz)

Windex Antibacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner (26 oz)

Baby Spinach (5 oz)

Chobani Greek Yogurt (Pineapple)

Tribe Hummus (8 oz)

Baby Carrots (1 lb bag)

Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee (New York Roast, Ground Regular, 10.5 oz)

Barilla Penne (Whole Grain Enriched 13.25 oz)

To many, this may seem like a pretty short list. One, I’m just shopping for me, and two, I found had to leave a few things off the list, like bread and sweetener, because I couldn’t find perfect comparisons.

I bought at some, and jotted down prices at others. I felt a little sneaky, but figured it’s all in the name of getting a deal. And, drumroll please……the big winner here was Western Beef. The entire list rung in at $30.47 before tax. The food cost $40.92 at D’Ags, and $42.90 at Food Emporium (both before tax). If you’ve never shopped at Western Beef, know that you will find great prices that’ll make you a do a double-take, but not a huge selection. The store is anything but fancy. You may have to go to a D’Ag’s or other store for your specialty cheeses, and organic salmon, and forget about sushi; Western Beef doesn’t have it. But for staples like eggs, and prepackaged foods like yogurt and cereal, you can save a bundle. I saved $10 for my weekly shop; that’s a savings of $500 a year that I can use to buy, oh, I don’t know, let’s say shoes? Or an iPad 2? Or maybe a free bottle every month of that  fancy hairspray.

The biggest jaw-droppers were the price differences for the cereal and the eggs. That Special K that cost $5.99 at both D’Ags and Food Emporium rung up at just $3.99 at Western Beef. And the meat market’s eggs cost just $.99 versus $3.49 and $3.99 at D’Ags and Food Emporium, respectively.

Before you start running to Western Beef for everything, know this, D’Agostino’s and Food Emporium do offer loyalty programs where you qualify for cost-cutting deals, and you can even trade in your points for that same box of Special K for just $1.99. Western Beef is a no frills operation, and doesn’t offer that.

And then there’s the NYC mantra, location, location, location. If you live near 6th Avenue, are you really going to walk all the way past 9th Avenue to buy your food and truck it home? In keeping with the no-frills mentality, Western Beef doesn’t deliver, while both D’Ags and Food Emporium do.

You may be saying, hey, you left out my favorite place. Where’s  West Side Market and Gourmet Garage? I got hungry.

The entire price comparison is below. If there’s something you think costs too darn much, and you need a cheap trick, let me know. You may see it on this site or my WestView column next month!

Cheap Tricks – West Village Grocery Store Edition – Price Breakdown

Western Beef D’Agostino’s Food Emporium
Scott Towels (102 ct) 1.99 2.39 2.29
Kellogg’s Special K Cereal with Red Berries (12 oz) 3.99 5.99 5.99
Eggs, 1 dozen large  0.99 3.49 3.99
Oscar Meyer Roasted Turkey (9 oz) 4.39 4.99 4.39
Windex Antibacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner (26 oz) 3.89 4.59 4.69
Baby Spinach (5 oz) 2.99 3.99 3.99
Chobani Greek Yogurt (Pineapple) 1.25 1.50 1.59
Tribe Hummus (8 oz) 2.99 2.99 4.49
Baby Carrots (1 lb bag) 1.50 2.59 2.99
Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee (New York Roast, Ground Regular, 10.5 oz) 4.99 6.55 5.99
Barilla Penne (Whole Grain Enriched 13.25 oz) 1.50 1.85 2.50
Total $30.47 $40.92 $42.90
*Prices as of 1/21/12
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