change is good

I went grocery shopping and opened my eyes a little bit more

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Strictly out of curiosity, I decided I’d make two grocery shopping trips today and figure out how much money I’d save if I go to WinCo, which is known for being cheaper, versus going to Save Mart.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t like WinCo’s produce section. It’s large, yes, but I find the quality of their produce to be substandard in taste and appearance. It’s usually half the reason I don’t really WANT to go to WinCo, though I go about half the time. Save Mart’s got better produce.

Every time I go to Save Mart, I felt a little guilty because I guessed I’d save a buck per item on average per item. But WinCo! The produce! I just feel all meh and bleh about it. Plus, if I have the kids with me, it takes so much longer since the store is huge.

Anyway, today I went alone and I decided I would actually compare the prices of food bought at WinCo with their equivalent at Save Mart, so that I can see how much I actually saved. I did not subject myself to WinCo produce, so I won’t be comparing that. I made a second trip to Save Mart, got all my produce there, then looked up the prices for everything I had already purchased at WinCo. I either found the same brand or something equivalent. If I got something generic at WinCo, I found something generic at Save Mart. If I bought something brand name, usually because I have preferences, then I bought brand name at Save Mart.

Plus, WinCo has bulk food. So for two items, I looked up the amounts that are in packaged versions and got the equivalent amount in the bulk section. This was for apricots and honey.

One item I found at WinCo but not at Save Mart, I didn’t bother to include since I could not compare it with anything. It was a bottle of peanut oil, which I got to see if putting a little into the half-eaten jar of dried-up peanut butter in the fridge could be revived so that I can actually spread it on bread and not be dismayed by the soul-killing clumps that defied my attempts to make a decent PBJ for the kids.

Oh, sorry. I got off track.

Okay, here’s the comparison. I’m sure a zillion people online have already done such a comparison, but here it is:

1/2 gallon of Organic Milk
WinCo: $4.49
Save Mart: $4.99
Savings: .50 cents

Cottage Cheese
Winco: $4.58
Save Mart: $4.99
Savings: .50 cents

WinCo: $1.98
Save Mart: $4.99
Savings: $3.01

Cage-free Eggs
WinCo: $3.94
Save Mart: $4.99
Savings: $1.05

WinCo: $2.94
Save Mart: $4.39
Savings: $1.45

WinCo: $1.46
Save Mart: $3.99
Savings: $2.53

Sliced Cheddar Cheese
WinCo: $2.87
Save Mart: $3.99
Savings: $1.12

WinCo: $2.51
Save Mart: $3.99
Savings: $1.48

Plastic snack bags with zip (50 ct)
WinCo: $1.46
Save Mart: $1.99
Savings: .53 cents

Juice Boxes (8 ct each)
WinCo: $2.58  – I bought two cases, so that’s $5.16
Save Mart: $3.79 -would have been $7.58
Savings: $2.42

Whole Wheat Crackers
WinCo: $2.55
Save Mart: $2.99
Savings: .44 cents

Corn/Wheat blend tortillas (8 ct)
WinCo: $2.27 each – I bought 3 packs, so that’s $6.81
Save Mart: $2.69 each – would have been $8.07
Savings: $1.26

Caesar Salad Dressing
WinCo: $2.98
Save Mart: $4.59
Savings: $1.61

TOTAL savings by shopping at WinCo today: $17.90

Wow. It’s a little more than I expected. And this wasn’t even a full shopping trip, because we still have a pantry half-full. So if this was our usual shopping trip, I’d guess the savings to end up closer to $30.

I’m sure we’d save even more if I bought more generic foods and more bulk foods. We’d likely save more if I bought WinCo produce, but I don’t want to go that far.

WinCo, you win.

I checked online just now, to see if there’s anything nefarious I should know about WinCo. Hopefully there are no skeletons in their closet, but this is what the Wikipedia entry says:

“… most of the company ownership is held by current and former employees through an employee stock ownership plan. … has a total of just over 15,000 employees company-wide.
…It reduces operation expenses by purchasing directly from manufacturers and farmers; accepting cash and debit cards, but not credit cards; having basic, no-frills stores; and not providing bagging service.”

To save $17.90 today, I sure don’t mind that I had to bag my own groceries.

Anyway, just sharing. I’m not demonizing Save Mart. I’ll still go there, mainly for produce, but I’ll try to shop at WinCo more often than not. Oh, and by the way, I’m not secretly getting money to promote WinCo. They haven’t given me a penny, unless you want to say that they’ve given me $17.90.

Happy shopping.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

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