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Kroger vs. Publix: Which grocery store has the lowest prices?

Kroger vs. Publix: Which grocery store has the lowest prices?
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Mike Timmermann |
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All year long,‘s Michael Timmermann is sharing quick and easy ways to save money as part of our Michael Saves series. Check in every Monday as he puts new and familiar savings strategies to the test. Sign up for our newsletter to have these stories delivered to your inbox!

Where I grew up, there’s Safeway and Giant. In college, we had Superfresh and Food Lion. And now that I live in Atlanta, it’s Kroger and Publix on every corner.

Faced with increasing competition from discount grocers like Aldi, these traditional supermarkets are fighting back.

Read more: Need extra cash? Here’s how I earned $1,500 using these 3 apps

Kroger vs. Publix price comparison: Where are the best deals?

Publix, a grocery store chain with more than 1,100 locations in the Southeast, has been showcasing price comparisons on select items that are cheaper than what you’d find at Walmart.

Meanwhile, Kroger greets shoppers at the door with brand new signs that read, “We’ve lowered our prices!”

But which store really has the best deals? Over the weekend, we took a list of 15 popular food items to Kroger and Publix to see how they compare.

As someone who shops regularly at both stores, I wasn’t expecting this…

1. Bananas, 5 count

  • Kroger: $1.05
  • Publix: $1.29

2. Berry medley, frozen

  • Kroger: $3.49 (16 oz.)
  • Publix: $3.00 (10 oz.)

3. Whole wheat bread

  • Kroger: $1.88
  • Publix: $2.69

Read more: 11 ways to save even more at Kroger

4. Brussels sprouts, frozen

  • Kroger: $1.19 (12 oz.)
  • Publix: $1.99 (15 oz.)

5. Ground coffee*

  • Kroger: $4.47 (Community Coffee; 12 oz.)
  • Publix: $4.43 (Eight O’Clock; 11 oz.)

*Community Coffee was $5.99 at Publix.

6. Eggs

  • Kroger: $1.59
  • Publix: $1.50

7. Hummus

  • Kroger: $3.49 (10 oz.)
  • Publix: $2.99 (8 oz.)

Read more: 10 surprises you probably didn’t know about Publix

8. Vegetable broth*

  • Kroger: $1.29
  • Publix: $2.47

*No store brand available at Publix.

9. Milk*

  • Kroger: $2.09
  • Publix: $2.99

*Kroger milk was on special; expiration date one week away

10. Mozzarella cheese

  • Kroger: $1.88
  • Publix: $3.69

11. Steel cut oats*

  • Kroger: $3.49 (28 oz.)
  • Publix: $4.39 (32 oz.)

*No store brand available at Publix.

Read more: 11 apps that pay you to shop for groceries

12. Pretzels

  • Kroger: $1.49 (15 oz.)
  • Publix: $1.67 (16 oz.)

13. Sweet potatoes, 2 pounds

  • Kroger: $2.05
  • Publix: $2.68

14. Chicken breasts, roughly 3.5 pounds

  • Kroger: $7.42 ($1.99/lb.)
  • Publix: $15.04 ($4.49/lb.)

15. Sweet onions, 2 pounds

  • Kroger: $1.07
  • Publix: $3.02

And the winner is…

I expected Kroger to be cheaper than Publix, but not by 35%! The total cost for everything in my grocery cart was $37.94 at Kroger (with savings card) and $53.84 at Publix.

After factoring in unit pricing (cost per ounce or pound), Publix only had the better value on eggs. Here’s more on how to compare unit prices at the grocery store.

The most surprising thing to me was the price of chicken. The package of chicken breasts from Kroger, which was slightly larger than the one from Publix, was less than half the price.

At $1.99 a pound, Kroger’s price was cheaper than Aldi and Trader Joe’s. See our price comparison.

More ways to save

Although I did substitute store brands when possible for this comparison, I wanted to keep things fair, so I didn’t apply some of my regular saving strategies.

These are my go-to methods to save money at traditional grocery stores:

  • Build grocery list around items in the weekly circular
  • Only buy protein (meat, poultry, fish) that’s on sale
  • Stock up on pantry staples that are on sale
  • Buy discounted items that are near expiration and freeze them
  • Use paper and digital coupons, plus cash back apps

The 15 items at Publix cost $15.90 more than Kroger. If you saved that amount every week for a year, it would add up to more than $800 — enough to take a mini-vacation.

Bottom line: You have to shop around and never assume one retailer always has the lowest prices!

Check out more from our Michael Saves series:

Clark’s key tips for avoiding long supermarket lines