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Supermarket Showdown: Which Local Store Has the Best Prices?

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At a recent visit to Project Just Because, volunteer Debbie Colburn walked me around the food pantry and shared their clients’ shopping experience with me. The store is filled with many shelf stable items, and I was surprised by their quality selection of perishables like meat, eggs, and produce.

“Eggs are the most in-demand,” said Colburn. “We limit them to 1 dozen per customer, and they fly off the shelf.”

Project Just Because is now serving more than 800 local families per week, a number that has increased dramatically since the pandemic.

The food pantry at Project Just Because

We’ll take readers on a full tour of Hopkinton’s food pantry soon, but this – and the national egg shortage / price gouging probe – got me thinking about the prices at the grocery stores where Hopkinton shops.

According to the February 14 Consumer Price Index report, food prices in January increased 10.1% from the same time in 2022. From December 2022 to January 2023, the increase was 0.5% — higher than the 0.3% increase from November to December, according to the report.

Setting quality, aesthetics and customer service aside, which are all subjective measures, I wanted to know which local store offered the best bang for the buck. I visited five stores I think are the most likely for Hopkinton shoppers to visit:

  • Price Chopper – 167 West Main, Hopkinton
  • Stop & Shop – 126 Medway Road, Milford
  • Roche Brothers – 1100 Union Street, Westborough
  • Wegmans – 9102 Shops Way, Northborough
  • Market Basket – 274 Hartford Avenue, Bellingham

My shopping list represented a cross section of the items I think may be on many of your lists. I mixed in both store and name brands, and only recorded the retail price, not the shopper’s card discount price.

So which is the cheapest? It depends on what you buy. Surprisingly, Wegmans was either the cheapest or tied for the cheapest for 9 of the 21 items. Market Basket came in second with 8 of the least expensive items, while Price Chopper had 6, Stop & Shop had 2, and Roche Brothers had just 1 of the least expensive items.

Market Basket in Bellingham is a good option, but the store has seen better days. Note the ceiling.

Where Wegmans was not the least expensive option was in the meat and fish category. In fact, the price of a pound of cod at Wegmans is 42% more than it is at Price Chopper. When it comes to meat and fish, Price Chopper is the clear winner, though Market Basket offers sliced turkey at an unbeatable $7.49 per pound.

One obvious drawback of Wegmans is that it’s 13 miles from the center of Hopkinton, about a 22 minute drive. For most of us with a typical car, this will add $3.35 in fuel costs round trip. Market Basket too is 11 miles from town, so when factoring the cost of gas and your time into the mix it may not result in much of a savings over Price Chopper.

The average cost for my shopping trip was $142.65, and on balance the least expensive store was Price Chopper. The same trip to Roche Brothers costs 13%, or $21 more.

The full results are below. What do you think, Hopkinton? Where do you shop, and why do you shop there? Leave your response in the comments below!

* this article was updated on 3/12/2023 to include Market Basket

12 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this useful comparison; here are a few more options. In my opinion, Aldi in Milford is best for the budget (very low priced, especially on produce–but have few “name brand” items) and Market Basket in Ashland is next best (low priced, very good selection, especially on produce). Trader Joe’s (Framingham) has very good quality at a moderate price, but carries few home goods–a great place to stock up on food and drink if you’re entertaining. Whole Foods (Framingham) is mostly high priced but their 365 Brand items are high quality and affordable.

  2. I can’t believe Market Basket in Bellingham was not considered. Their pricing is considerably more competitive and their quality is outstanding.

  3. Agreed that Market Basket has the lowest prices around, but like most grocery stores, they are steadily creeping up. The tuna I buy went from $2.19/can last week to $2.69/can this week. A significant increase when considering many other items we buy weekly have also increased by as much as $.25. I still will only shop at Market Basket, but I do go to Shaw’s occasionally when they don’t have a particular item I want. And apparently Shaw’s will soon become a Kroger store, so we’ll see how that stacks up price-wise

  4. This article is a real service to our town and a stellar example of what community journalism can achieve. Thank you!

  5. Wegmans does not cut fresh meat in the stores everything is cryovac processed 15 to 20 days before hitting the store…Do your homework. Value comes from fresh products not necessarily price all the time.

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