I Wonder: Who has the cheapest Thanksgiving grocery prices? You might be surprised

I Wonder: Who has the cheapest Thanksgiving grocery prices? You might be surprised

I Wonder: Who has the cheapest Thanksgiving grocery prices? You might be surprised

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by Don Day
KTVB.COM

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 18, 2009 at 10:53 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 8:23 AM

BOISE – Last spring, we set out to find out who has the best-priced groceries in the Boise area.  After a day of shopping, number crunching and writing – we found the results on a list of basic items to be about what you’d expect.

What we did not expect was how popular the story would be. It still stands as this site’s most-read item of 2009 – and one of the most popular stories we’ve ever featured.

With families across the area gearing up for a big Thanksgiving feast next Thursday, we decided to hit the stores again – and find out if the results would be any different.

Executive Producer Kate Morris and I grabbed an empty news rig – and proceeded to fill it up with food.  Four stores, one shopping list and a purchase card.  The goal: find the most economical way to feed your family a turkey dinner.

We shopped the same four stores from our spring experiment: WinCo, Walmart, Fred Meyer and Albertsons.

The results surprised us a bit – but we’ll get to that in a moment.  First – let’s talk turkey… and stuffing… and pie. Mmmm. Pie.

Unless otherwise noted, we purchased the cheapest available item – usually a generic or store brand.

Turkey – 12-14 pounds
Albertsons - $0.48/pound. Fred Meyer - $1.69/pound. Walmart - $0.98/pound. WinCo - $0.86 pound.

We purchased a 13-pound turkey at each of the four stores.  Our goal was to avoid the brand name, and instead purchase the lowest priced bird.  For Fred Meyer, the best deal was a Butterball – and came in at $1.69 per pound.  Walmart came in next at just less than a dollar.

Both Albertsons and WinCo are running specials through Thanksgiving.  For WinCo, if you spend $50 on non-turkey groceries, they will give you a Jenny-O turkey for $0.37 per pound.  For our experiment, we did not spend anywhere near that benchmark – in which case the turkey bumps up to $0.86 per pound.

Albertsons has a similar offer.  If you spend $25 or more with a Preferred Card on non-turkey items, you can buy a Village Market brand turkey for $0.38 per pound – for turkeys 16 pounds or larger.  Since our turkey was under that mark, it cost $0.48 per pound.

Best deal: With our pre-defined rules, Albertsons wins, but WinCo gets an honorable mention.

Stuffing – 6-ounce box, Stovetop brand
Albertsons - $0.87 on sale. Fred Meyer - $1 on sale. Walmart - $1.68.  WinCo $0.78.

Best deal: WinCo.

One yellow onion
Albertsons - $0.39/pound.  Fred Meyer - $0.39/pound. Walmart - $0.44/pound. WinCo - $0.38/pound.

Best deal: Close call – but WinCo wins by a penny a pound.

One packet gravy mix
Albertsons - $1. Fred Meyer - $0.50 on sale. Walmart - $1.17. WinCo - $.28 on sale.

Best deal: WinCo.

Potatoes – five-pound bag
Albertsons - $1.69. Fred Meyer - $1.79. Walmart - $1.17. WinCo - $1.28.

Best deal: Walmart.  We noticed that in most cases, a ten-pound bag was just a few cents more, and in the case of Albertsons, it was actually cheaper.

14.5-ounce can of green beans
Albertsons - $0.69. Fred Meyer - $0.59 on sale. Walmart - $0.50. WinCo - $.047.

Best deal: WinCo.

10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
Albertsons - $0.57. Fred Meyer - $0.59. Walmart - $0.58. WinCo - $0.55.

Best deal: WinCo.

2.8-ounce can French’s fried onions
Albertsons - $2.69. Fred Meyer - $1.97. Walmart - $1.66. WinCo - $1.66.

Best deal: Walmart/WinCo tie.

Gallon milk
Albertsons - $2.39. Fred Meyer - $2.17. Walmart - $2.48. WinCo - $2.19.

Best deal: Fred Meyer.

Can cranberry sauce
Albertsons - $0.57. Fred Meyer - $0.69. Walmart - $1. WinCo - $0.87.

Best deal: Albertsons.

One 36-ounce Marie Callender’s frozen pumpkin pie
Albertsons - $5.99. Fred Meyer - $4.50 on sale. Walmart - $4.96. WinCo - $5.48.

Best deal: Fred Meyer.

16-ounce package butter
Albertsons - $1. Fred Meyer - $2 on sale. Walmart - $0.58. WinCo - $0.66.

Best deal: Walmart.

25.4-ounce bottle of Martinelli’s apple cider
Albertsons - $2.49. Fred Meyer - $2.99. Walmart - $1.74. WinCo - $1.74.

Best deal: Walmart/WinCo tie.

8-ounce Cool Whip whipped topping
Albertsons - $0.97. Fred Meyer - $0.99. Walmart - $0.98. WinCo - $0.96.

Best deal: Not much difference here, but WinCo takes the crown.

Twelve dinner rolls
Albertsons - $1.69 on sale.  Fred Meyer - $1.50. Walmart - $2.50. WinCo - $2.48.

Best deal: Fred Meyer.

Dozen AA eggs
Albertsons - $1.49 on sale. Fred Meyer - $1.69. Walmart - $2.50. WinCo - $1.31.

Best deal: WinCo

The verdict

After totaling everything up, and double-checking our receipts, we have a surprise winner.

Albertsons.

That turkey deal put the one-time hometown grocer at the top of the heap.  The store also seemed to be focusing on sale prices for many of the items we shopped.

WinCo Foods came in second place, with Walmart and Fred Meyer rounding out the pack.

The final totals:
Albertsons: $32.44
WinCo Foods: $33.50
Walmart: $35.99
Fred Meyer: $46.77

One final note: After shopping and putting together our story, we donated the groceries to the Boise Rescue Mission. They are hoping to put together 3,000 Thanksgiving meals. You can make a donation at their location on 24th & Fairview in Boise any day before 5 p.m.

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