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 Puget Sound area for price and quality. During most of that time, conventional chains Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC, and Safeway dominated the local supermarket scene. Three of these four brands have been merged into one giant company, and all are being squeezed by lots of competitors. Small chains Grocery Outlet, Saar’s, WinCo, and fan favorites Central Co-op, Central Market, Metropolitan Market, and PCC Natural continue to hang on or even expand in our region. Trader Joe’s offers unique selections of its own brands at low prices. You can get rock-bottom prices buying in bulk at Costco. Target and Walmart, with their low-price reputations and sell-everything product array, have begun selling fresh food in this area. 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? Is Costco worth its annual fee? 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 154-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.