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.
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!