Hyde Park Grocery Stores: A Comparison

I should start by offering a few disclaimers: the comparison below isn't flawless. It was done by hand, by me, occasionally with a sassy 1-year-old in tow. I am, however, reasonably adept at reading price stickers (a skill I developed digging through the clearance racks with my mom for the past, oh, thirty years).

You'll notice there's no Jewel here, no Dominick's. I won't shop at either since the incident with the Smart Balance spread and the chemist's kind warning, a trip during which I realized I couldn't take S to the grocery store unless I wanted to deal with a toddler's tantrums (unfair to expect her to understand that the crap in Kellogg's KRAVE cereal is simply not fit for human consumption). I understand that each of the stores below carries some level of garbage; in my unsophisticated analysis, I've deemed them acceptable.

In comparing these grocery stores, I'm including data regarding price alone. Service, cleanliness, speed of checkout, etc aren't being taken into consideration (each of these stores has friendly staff and is clean; for the record, I favor HPP's small-town-grocer feel).

You'll find a chart below with my findings. I've included 20 foods, most of which are regular purchases in our household and a couple of which (meat, for example) might be regular in yours. In most cases, comparison of products was relatively easy (pricing by pound, for example); in a couple (spinach), the myriad methods of pricing seemed to skew the data too far, so I've left the original pricing. I've made a couple of assumptions (for example, the average weight of a banana) and will share my conclusions after the chart.

Hyde Park Grocery Stores

I'm not surprised to see TJ's so far ahead. Known for their low prices, it's one of the few grocery stores that manages to sustain a high level of quality without compromising its commitment to affordability. A surprise, however, for me is that TI is pricier than Whole Foods (who knew?). That'll be an uncomfortable realization when Antheus' Village Center development brings a WF just blocks from TI, and I'm skeptical that Treasure Island will last if that plan comes to fruition.

I tried to include Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks because we love them -- the quality is outstanding, the service is excellent, and I love knowing we've made a regular commitment to supporting local farms and sustainable practices. For those reasons, despite the cost, I think we'll continue to purchase our regular CSA box. They aren't shown in the chart because they don't have the goods of the brick-and-mortar stores.

So it looks like shopping patterns in our household may change: Trader Joe's for produce and essential foodstuffs (when we can get to the South Loop); HPP for deli and dairy (and the free cookies for S). I'm certain we'll still be going to Whole Foods, too, on occasion and, though it performed poorly in our comparison, Treasure Island does have good sales and is far more convenient than Whole Foods if I run out of, say, buckwheat flour, mid-biscuit.

Peapod performed pretty well and, for the convenience factor, you can't beat delivery. It's also a good way to avoid your kid being exposed to the cartoon marketing of Gogurt (blech)! I can't put my finger on the reason I'm still resistant to Peapod, and if any of you converts out there wants to convince me, I'm open to it. (There are gaps in their selection, to be sure, but gaps I could easily fill elsewhere.)

That's it. We're doing simple living month again in March, so getting this down on paper was an important (and embarrassingly fun) exercise for me. Hope it's valuable for you, too, Hyde Parkers!



Leave a comment
  • At least HP now has a choice, instead of bowing down to the altar of the Hyde Park Coop, which never had a philosophy of low prices, and gave shoppers an argument about using Certified Grocers manufacturers' coupons.

    In older days I previously mentioned, there was Mr. G's, taken over by the Coop, and we either took the IC to shop at a downtown food store (those are long gone*) or find someone with a car to go to Jewel. However, these days, Jewel is way overpriced, unless one can figure out and use their gimmick deals.

    I favor the "international produce market" type of stores, and you now have one at the site of Mr. G's (Hyde Park Produce).

    *Is the WF open in Hyde Park, or did you take the trip to Roosevelt Road?

  • In reply to jack:

    Oh Jack. I love your long-time history of Hyde Park. The Whole Foods to which I refer is in the South Loop. I should have included that in my disclaimer, too -- heavy-duty shopping almost always has to be accomplished on Roosevelt Rd!

  • fb_avatar

    Nice Blog entry, thanks for the work you did on that. I have just moved to Hyde Park and needed info like this. No mention of the discount grocery stores on 47th and just north of 47th. Are they not recommended?

  • In reply to Cromwell Jones:

    Hi Cromwell --
    Thanks for reading! There are definitely positives (price being chief among them) of the stores on 47th Street. Save-A-Lot is very bargain-oriented, and I find that store to be exactly what I'd expect; the same is true of Village Foods on 51st. Both stores are designed to be no frills -- simply cheap groceries -- and that's what you get. Neither is featured in this comparison because my family's habits (like many Hyde Parkers) tend toward the more natural, organic, and local food options -- not the selling points of stores like SAL and VF. I was sad to see Michael's on 47th close -- though they weren't focused on natural options, Michael's is a local chain and had an accommodating, kind staff and a really excellent variety of ethnic staples.
    Hope this helps; keep reading!

  • I'm not sure how "local" most of the food at TJ and Whole Foods is, but you can reduce your own food footprint by eliminating or minimizing your driving to shop. For me that means Hyde Park Produce without a car for almost all my produce and perishables, and shopping the sales at the stores in the neighborhood for most of the rest. Including TI, Village, Walgreens, and One Stop. I'm with you on avoiding Jewel and Dominicks -- whenever I'm there, there is so little I want to buy. And Peapod just seems annoying. I don't really know why. I am sure it is very helpful for people who are not able to get around easily.

    One question--I would love to eat more fish-- do you have a recommendation on where to buy not expensive good fresh or frozen fish (this could be in or out of the neighborhood)?

  • In reply to edgewater:

    I would venture to say, actually, that Whole Foods in particular is better about local options than HPP (this coming from a dedicated lover of HPP!). I think if you're careful and pay attention to what you're buying, you can do a decent job of buying local goods anywhere. At Whole Foods, they make this easier by tagging local foods; at HPP, it's challenging particularly in the produce section -- most of the produce is imported. I think, if local/footprint-reducing is your goal, a CSA is hands-down the way to go. I use Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks and have never, ever been disappointed by the quality. In fact, this weekend's box was my favorite and I was literally squealing with delight as I checked out the goodies.

    As far as fish is concerned, I shop WF sales. I don't find the quality of TJ's frozen fish to be really stellar (nor have I ever been impressed by the fish counter at TI). Though Whole Foods seems expensive (and is, overall), if you're willing to be flexible and buy what's on sale, you can get some really good deals and (though others will argue an ethnic market is your best bet) I think the quality can't be beat.

    Thanks for reading!

Leave a comment