The majority of the average American’s paycheck goes toward just three things: housing, transportation and food.
Food accounts for about 12.5% of all annual expenses — with the average American spending more than $4,000 a year on groceries at home and more than $3,000 on eating out, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While some areas of the budget aren’t very flexible — due to contracts and other commitments — how much you spend on food can easily be reduced by making just a few simple changes to your routine.
Furthermore, this is one area of the budget than can be drastically reduced — depending on how much effort you’re willing to put in (which doesn’t even have to be much).
In general, there’s one very simple strategy that will almost certainly save you money on groceries: changing where you shop!
Once you start comparison shopping and know which store offers the best deals on things you buy on a consistent basis, you’ll be surprised by just how much you can save each month.
Read more: 21 ways to spend less at the grocery store
Grocery shopping routines are shifting away from store loyalty
It used to be that people had one favorite grocery store, but as Americans continue to look for better deals and an overall better shopping experience, that loyalty has shifted away from specific stores in an effort to find better prices.
In fact, according to a new report from Consumer Reports, consumers are less loyal to any particular grocery store than every before.
Instead, people are now focusing more on the strengths each different store has to offer — in particular, which ones offer best prices.
After surveying more than 60,000 of its subscribers, Consumer Reports analyzed the data to determine a few key factors that play into how Americans shop for groceries.
Here’s why people are firing their local grocery store:
- 45% of people have switched stores in search of lower prices.
- The biggest complaint: not enough open checkouts.
- 10% of respondents complained about congested or cluttered aisles, lack of product choice, poor selection of locally grown or made goods, indifferent staff and a confusing layout.
On the other hand, there are some stores that give consumers pretty much everything they’re looking for when it comes to a great grocery shopping experience.
Based on the results of the survey, CR has ranked the best national and regional grocery store chains in the U.S. that offer consumers the best prices.
Where to find the lowest grocery prices in America
3. Fareway Stores
4. Market Basket (Northeast)
5. Military Commissary
6. Trader Joe’s
Consumer Reports notes:
Besides grocery store prices, other factors also contributed to readers’ satisfaction with grocery stores. Wegmans, which topped our ratings, offers competitive prices as well as other commendable features including fresh store-prepared foods, courteous staff, fast checkout, and high-quality produce. Wegmans has placed near or at the top of our ratings many times since 2005.
Top grocery stores with the best overall ratings
- Market Basket (Northeast)
- Trader Joe’s
- Fareway Stores
- Military Commissary
- Festival Foods (WI)
- Stater Bros.