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Who has the cheapest Thanksgiving groceries? We shopped six Boise-area stores and put them to the test

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It’s time to shop for your Thanksgiving meal – and with inflation, prices are on the rise. We shopped six local stores to find out who has the best prices on groceries this holiday season.

We used a pre-set list of 16 items, including turkey, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, a pie and more. We shopped store brands where we could find them, and looked for the lowest price for comparable items.

We looked at four national supermarket chains: Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Walmart and WinCo Foods. (Albertsons and Winco happen to be based in Boise.). We also shopped at specialty grocery Trader Joes, and spot-checked a few items at Costco. For Albertsons, Walmart, and Fred Meyer, we shopped online. We donated all the groceries to local food banks.

The winner: WinCo Foods, by a significant margin. Our list of groceries rang up at $41.45 before tax, fueled in part by the best price on turkey. The next cheapest was Walmart, followed by Fred Meyer and Albertsons. Trader Joe’s came in last, and some of our items weren’t available, as we detail below.

You’ll want to watch for turkey deals. Our list didn’t qualify, but both WinCo and Albertsons had big discounts on turkey that could make for better deals at the two retailers.

BoiseDev’s Don Day did a similar test in 2009, and we used the same list and methodology – which allowed us to compare prices to show the impact of inflation over the past 13 years.

Winco Foods

A cart full of food at Winco Foods. Photo: Anna Daly/BoiseDev

Total price: $41.45

Boise-based WinCo Foods was the cheapest option of the four grocers we compared. Not only did it have the lowest overall price, but it also had the lowest or tied-for-the-lowest prices on 11 of the 16 items we shopped.

While our shopping trip didn’t qualify for the offer, Winco is offering a free Jennie-O brand turkey with any purchase of $125 non-turkey groceries. If you’re planning a bigger shopping trip, this could save you more.

Difference from 2009: Increase of $9.29, 28.86%

  • Turkey – 12-14 pounds
    • $11.76 BEST PRICE
    • $0.98 per pound for a 12-pound bird.
  • Stuffing – 6-ounce box, store brand
    • $0.88
  • One yellow onion
    • $0.41 BEST PRICE
  • One packet gravy mix
    • $0.38 BEST PRICE
  • Potatoes – five-pound bag
    • $1.98 BEST PRICE
  • 14.5-ounce can of green beans
    • $1.84
  • 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
    • $0.54 BEST PRICE – TIE
  • 6-ounce can fried onions
    • $1.88 BEST PRICE – TIE
  • 1 Gallon milk
    • $2.72 BEST PRICE
  • Can cranberry sauce
    • $1.38 BEST PRICE
  • One 36-ounce frozen pumpkin pie
    • $5.98
  • 16-ounce package butter
    • $3.78
  • 25.4-ounce bottle of Martinelli’s apple cider (or store brand if available)
    • $2.48 BEST PRICE
  • 8-ounce Cool Whip whipped topping
    • $0.98
  • Twelve dinner rolls
    • $1.48
  • Dozen AA eggs
    • $2.98 BEST PRICE

Walmart

Total price: $49.21

We shopped Walmart online, and the prices ran a close second to WinCo (which can’t be shopped online). Walmart had the best price found on several items.

Difference from 2009: Increase of $12.55, or 34.22%

  • Turkey – 12-14 pounds
    • $16.91
    • Butterball brand 10-16 pounds
  • Stuffing – 6-ounce box, store brand
    • $0.88 BEST PRICE – TIE
  • One yellow onion
    • $0.78
  • One packet gravy mix
    • $0.65
  • Potatoes – five-pound bag
    • $2.68
  • 14.5-ounce can of green beans
    • $0.58 BEST PRICE
  • 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
    • $0.54 BEST PRICE – TIE
  • 2.8-ounce can fried onions
    • $1.88 BEST PRICE – TIE
  • 1 Gallon milk
    • $2.84
  • Can cranberry sauce
    • $1.76
  • One 36-ounce frozen pumpkin pie
    • $5.48 BEST PRICE
  • 16-ounce package butter
    • $4.48
  • 25.4-ounce bottle of Martinelli’s apple cider (or store brand if available)
    • $3.12
  • 8-ounce Cool Whip whipped topping
    • $1.68
  • Twelve dinner rolls
    • $1.28 BEST PRICE
  • Dozen AA eggs
    • $3.76

Difference from 2009:

Fred Meyer

Fred Meyer Idaho
A Fred Meyer store in Boise, Idaho. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Total price: $53.66

Fred Meyer was in the middle of our five tested retailers. But the Kroger-owned chain didn’t offer a special on turkey that we could find, which means for shopping trips slightly larger than ours, it would fall behind Albertsons in price due to a turkey deal, as noted below. We shopped Fred Meyer online.

Difference from 2009: Increase of $8.53, or 18.09%.

  • Turkey – 12-14 pounds
    • $20.28
    • Kroger brand 10-14 pounds
  • Stuffing – 6-ounce box, store brand
    • $1
  • One yellow onion
    • $0.50
  • One packet gravy mix
    • $0.49
  • Potatoes – five-pound bag
    • $2.29
  • 14.5-ounce can of green beans
    • $0.89
  • 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
    • $1
  • 6-ounce can fried onions
    • $2.29
  • 1 Gallon milk
    • $2.89
  • Can cranberry sauce
    • $1.50
  • One 36-ounce frozen pumpkin pie
    • $5.99
  • 16-ounce package butter
    • $4.79
  • 25.4-ounce bottle of Martinelli’s apple cider (or store brand if available)
    • $3
  • 8-ounce Cool Whip whipped topping
    • $1.19
  • Twelve dinner rolls
    • $1.67
  • Dozen AA eggs
    • $3.89

Albertsons

Albertsons Companies
The Albertsons store on Broadway in Boise, ID. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Total price: $67.99

Albertsons was the second-most-expensive store on our trip. But there’s a fairly significant caveat here. Albertsons has a pair of turkey offers. The first offers a Signature Farms brand turkey for $0.49 per pound if you spend $50 on non-turkey groceries in a single transaction or free if you spend $100. Because our list without turkey didn’t get to $50, we didn’t qualify – but if we had, it would have taken $26.46 off our full order, which may have impacted the rankings. If you plan to spend more than $100, a free turkey could make Albertsons worth the visit.

Difference from 2009: Increase of $37.26. Of note, in 2009, we qualified for a reduced-price turkey deal that we did not qualify for this year.

  • Turkey – 12-14 pounds
    • $26.46
    • Signature Farms 12-16 pound
  • Stuffing – 6-ounce box, store brand
    • $1.99
  • One yellow onion
    • $0.97
  • One packet gravy mix
    • $0.69
  • Potatoes – five-pound bag
    • $2.49
  • 14.5-ounce can of green beans
    • $0.89
  • 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
    • $1.29
  • 6-ounce can fried onions
    • $3.99
  • 1 Gallon milk
    • $3.09
  • Can cranberry sauce
    • $1.99
  • One 36-ounce frozen pumpkin pie
    • $4.99
  • 16-ounce package butter
    • $4.79
  • 25.4-ounce bottle of Martinelli’s apple cider (or store brand if available)
    • $3.49
  • 8-ounce Cool Whip whipped topping
    • $1.99
  • Twelve dinner rolls
    • $3.99
  • Dozen AA eggs
    • $3.89

Trader Joe’s

Eggs at Trader Joe’s in Boise. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Total price: $72.23 (some items unavailable)

Trader Joe’s isn’t a full-fledged supermarket and offers shoppers a different experience. It made a full apples-to-apples comparison more difficult, which presents both challenges and opportunities to shoppers. If you go in with a hard and fast list of things you want, you probably will have to make a second stop. But if you’re looking for a higher concentration of specialty foods, Trader Joe’s can provide a good option.

For our list, Trader Joe’s turkey was the most expensive. We looked for a turkey between 12 and 14 pounds, and the smallest bird we could find was 14.71 pounds, which at $1.98 a pound totaled to $29.27, topping the second most expensive store, Albertsons.

We were not able to purchase several items, and had to make substitutions on several others. Trader Joe’s did not have cream of mushroom soup, whipped topping, apple cider or dinner rolls. For the rolls, we swapped for two baguettes equalling twelve servings. For apple cider, we purchased apple juice. For the whipped topping and soup, we skipped these items. This means not only was Trader Joe’s the most expensive store, the list is missing several items we purchased at every other store.

  • Turkey – 12-14 pounds
    • $29.27
    • $1.98 per pound. 14.17-pound bird
  • Stuffing – 6-ounce box, store brand
    • $4.49
    • Trader Joe’s brand Cornbread Stuffing Mix – 12.4 ounces
  • One yellow onion
    • $0.99
  • One packet gravy mix
    • $1.49
    • Packet gravy mix not available. Purchased turkey-flavored gravy 17.6 ounce liquid
  • Potatoes – five-pound bag
    • $1.98
  • 14.5-ounce can of green beans
    • $1.99
    • Canned green beans not available. Purchased pre-packaged fresh green beans
  • 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
    • Not available
  • 2.8-ounce can fried onions
    • $2.99
    • Trader Joe’s brand, 8 ounces
  • 1 Gallon milk
    • $3.49
  • Can cranberry sauce
    • $2.29
    • Canned cranberry sauces not available. Purchased pre-packaged whole cranberries
  • One 36-ounce frozen pumpkin pie
    • $6.99
    • Frozen pie not available. Purchased pre-packaged fresh pie
  • 16-ounce package butter
    • $3.69 BEST PRICE
  • 25.4-ounce bottle of Martinelli’s apple cider (or store brand if available)
    • $4.29
    • No cider available. Purchased apple juice.
  • 8-ounce Cool Whip whipped topping
    • Not available.
  • Twelve dinner rolls
    • $3.98
    • Dinner rolls not available. Purchased two six serving French baugettes
  • Dozen AA eggs
    • $2.79

Difference from 2009: Trader Joe’s had not yet opened in the Boise market in 2009.

Costco

Turkeys for sale at Costco. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

While we didn’t shop our full list at Costco, we did spot-check a few items.

  • Costco offered Butterball turkeys for $0.99 per pound – just a penny more than Winco’s price for Jennie-O.
  • A large 3-pound 10-ounce pie was listed at $5.99. While Walmart’s price for a pie was cheaper ($5.48), the Costco pie is larger and fresh-made for a comparable price.
  • 12-count dinner rolls at Costco ran $5.99. That’s quite a bit more than the supermarkets or Trader Joe’s – though the rolls are generally larger in size.

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