Saturday, January 22, 2011

Crips vs Bloods

guest post by My Friend

Kind of.

Ok, well not really.

But it IS East Coast vs West Coast.

In the blogging community there is a lot of talk about grocery budgets. People always seem to want to know how much your grocery budget is and how you are able to feed x people on that budget.

While it can be interesting to see what other people do, comparing your budget to someone else’s is generally not a great idea for a number of reasons:

1. People eat different things. I don’t eat a lot of meat so my budget is lower because of that. Jack’s family on the other hand – well you may recall the Great Lunchmeat Caper of 2010.

2. Number of people in your family. There is only 1 of me so any one meal I make probably lasts longer than a meal in Jack’s family. Of course this also means that I tend to eat the same thing over and over again which sometimes results in wasted food.

3. Pets, babies, and other family members that require special products. I don’t have a dog around to help me eat what I cook. Also, I don’t have a baby! Babies often have special requirements – diapers, baby food – there are all sorts of possible items that could raise the grocery budget.

4. Regional variation. I live on the East Coast. Jack’s family lives on the West Coast. I discussed this with Jack’s mom and we both agreed that there were probably some regional differences in what things cost but neither one of us had any idea what the differences might be. So, we conducted a little experiment (what can I say – we both have research backgrounds – nerdiness makes us happy).

Here is the basic setup. We each went to a few popular stores in our area to record the prices of some commonly purchased items.

West Coast – Vons and Commissary

East Coast – Kroger, Harris Teeter, and SuperTarget.

The items we decided to compare:

Green Pepper, Red Pepper, Cucumber, Iceberg Lettuce, Banana

Meat (price by pound):
Boneless Chicken Breast – Perdue, 85/15 ground beef

White Mueller Pasta – Thin Spaghetti, Skippy Peanut Butter, Prego Pasta Sauce

Personal Care:
Pantene Shampoo, Crest Toothpaste, Secret Deodorant

For each item we chose the smallest and most basic variety (so we chose the small tube of Crest Cavity Protection, not the Crest Pro-Health versions.

What did we find? Well the results were actually quite surprising!





Harris Teeter



Green Pepper





Red Pepper










Iceberg Lettuce










Boneless Chicken Breast - Perdue





Ground beef 85/15





White Mueller Pasta - Thin Spaghetti





Skippy Peanut Butter





Tomato Sauce - Prego





Pantene Shampoo





Secret Deodorant





Crest Toothpaste










*The Commissary doesn’t permit the reporting of exact prices, so only the total is listed.

Here are the highlights:

- It’s not particularly surprising that the Commissary was the cheapest given that it’s subsidized by the government.

- Get a load of that Crest toothpaste. Yikes, Vons.

- Target cheaper than Kroger? Who knew?

While you definitely don’t need to evaluate as many stores as we did, if you’re having a hard time sticking with a specific grocery budget, it may be because your set budget isn’t realistic for your locality and circumstance. Jot down a quick list of the items you usually buy and compare some prices in the stores in your area. The results might surprise you.

When it comes to grocery budgets one size does not fit all. You need to evaluate your needs, your stores (including coupon policies), and your budget goals.

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