Want to be sure you’re filling your grocery bag with good food at a good price? For 15 years, Checkbook has regularly evaluated grocery stores in the Chicago area for price and quality. During most of that time, conventional chains Cub Foods, Dominick’s, and Jewel-Osco dominated the local supermarket scene. Of those three chains, only Jewel-Osco remains, and it’s being squeezed by lots of competitors. Trader Joe’s and ALDI offer unique selections of their own brands at low prices. You can get rock-bottom prices buying in bulk at Costco and Sam’s Club. Target and Walmart, with their low-price reputations and sell-everything product array, have begun selling fresh food in this area. Small chains Butera, Caputo’s, Fresh Thyme, Meijer, Sunset, and fan favorites Mariano’s and Woodman’s continue to hang on. And Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods indicates seemingly everyone wants to capture your food budget.
So where can you find the best produce and meat? Which offer the lowest prices? What’s Amazon doing with Whole Foods? Are membership warehouse clubs worth their annual fees? What about organic food? What shopping strategies will get you quality and good prices without zapping your valuable time?
Our comparisons of area grocery store options walk you up and down a lot of aisles to show how your favorite stores—and maybe stores you don’t know—stack up for price and quality. To compare prices, Checkbook’s researchers used a 153-item list—and lots of energy—to shop area stores. To evaluate stores on quality of products and service, we surveyed area consumers.
If you detest going to the supermarket and are willing to pay extra to avoid it, there are now lots of services that will shop for you and bring groceries to your home. We also compare prices of local grocery delivery services.