Whole Foods has a well-deserved reputation for being the one-stop market for all things natural, organic, and alternative (from a culinary perspective, that is). While few grocers can beat the variety and selection of meat and dairy, heirloom grains, and local produce, the price points at Whole Foods are another matter. Enter Trader Joe's, which undercuts its chief rival on many products but carries a smaller assortment of foodstuffs, brands, and sizes. A price comparison of 20 store-brand products bearing Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value label and the eponymous Trader Joe's label found that 14 are cheaper at the latter.
Grab a jar of dried basil at Trader Joe's, where this must-have Italian herb costs $1.99 for 0.3 ounce. You'll pay the same price at Whole Foods but walk away with just 0.18 ounce.
Available under a house label at both food stores, Honey Nut O's are something of a deal at either compared with their brand-name counterparts. At $2.49 for 13.5 ounces, the equivalent of $2.95 a pound, the Trader Joe's version is more than $1 less than Whole Foods' private label cereal, which costs $2.99 for 12.25 ounces, or $3.91 a pound.
There's a bounty of cream cheese options at both grocery chains, including light, whipped, regular, and dairy-free. A plain old 8-ounce block of Trader Joe's brand is tagged at $1.69 compared with $1.89 for an 8-ounce bar of Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value cream cheese.
At first glance the two grocers seem to be on par for this popular meat substitute, with both offering packages at $1.99. But Trader Joe's sells a 16-ounce package for that price while Whole Foods packs in just 14 ounces.
Fresh sweet corn is part of summer, but in the interim, the frozen organic variety is a popular alternative. Stock up with Trader Joe's organic sweet corn at $1.79 for 16 ounces or spend 50 cents more (that would be $2.29 for the same amount) at Whole Foods.
Trader Joe's and Whole Foods stock non-dairy milks in different sizes, so it's important to do the math to find the better deal. The value buy on organic almond milk comes from Trader Joe's, which charges $2.99 for half a gallon, or 4.7 cents an ounce, compared with $1.99 for a quart, or 6.2 cents an ounce, at Whole Foods.
The house-brand organic soy milk from Whole Foods is a slightly better deal than its almond milk when stacked against Trader Joe's, but still lags the competition. A half gallon goes for $2.99, or 4.7 cents an ounce, at Trader Joe's versus $1.69 for one quart, or 5.3 cents an ounce, at Whole Foods.
Consumers who shun foods with pesticides and opt for organic strawberries know they pay a price for their preferences. Big-time savings are available at Trader Joe's, where a 12-ounce bag fetches $2.79, the equivalent of $3.72 for 16 ounces. Ten ounces of the same smoothie/dessert ingredient goes for $2.99, or $4.78 for 16 ounces, at Whole Foods.
Trader Joe's and Whole Foods stock house-branded cereal bars in various flavors, and both labels deliver savings over name brands. Trader Joe's is the low-price champ here, tagging this on-the-go breakfast food at $1.99 for 7.9 ounces, while the sticker at Whole Foods reads $2.29 for 7.8 ounces.
Another freezer staple is organic frozen green beans, which can be added to soup, stir fry, and casseroles year round for a nutritional hit. A 16-ounce bag at Trader Joe's beckons to shoppers with a tag of $1.99 compared with $2.29 for the same quantity at Whole Foods.
An inexpensive, versatile, and shelf-stable food, canned tuna is a go-to pantry item in many American homes. At $1.69 for a 5-ounce can, the Trader Joe's brand undercuts Whole Foods, which prices the same-size can at $1.99.
Whole Foods stocks different sizes of block and crumbled feta cheese bearing its in-house label. At $2.99 for 6 ounces of crumbled feta, the per pound equivalent is $7.97. Frugal shoppers will save more than 50 cents a pound with Trader Joe's crumbled feta, which comes in a 6-ounce container costing $2.79, or $7.44 a pound.
These tasty additions to salads, spreads, and pastas are on the expensive side, but cost nearly $1 less at Trader Joe's, where 13.75 ounces of the house brand goes for $2.29, or $2.66 a pound. At Whole Foods, shoppers pay $2.99 for 14 ounces, or $3.42 a pound.
Another staple for veggie-loving consumers, frozen peas are a better deal at Trader Joe's. A 16-ounce bag sells for $1.29; the Whole Foods' version is priced at $1.39 for a like amount.
CHEAPER AT WHOLE FOODS: LONG-GRAIN BROWN RICE Buying in bulk is a traditional money-saving strategy, and Whole Foods accommodates with a 5-pound bag of long-grain brown rice for the bargain price of $5.79, or $1.16 a pound. The largest size bag at Trader Joe's is 32 ounces, which rings up at $3.29, or $1.65 a pound.
A favored alternative to peanut butter, almond butter nonetheless takes a bigger bite out of the food budget. But if this is the spread you crave, pick up a 16-ounce jar at Whole Foods for $6.99. You'll pay a full $1 more at Trader Joe's, where the going price for 16 ounces is $7.99.
The best place to stock up on canned organic diced tomatoes is Whole Foods, which levies a price of $1.69 for 28 ounces, or 97 cents a pound. The equivalent product at Trader Joe's sets you back $1.99, or $1.14 a pound.
This tropical vegetable makes an excellent salad topper, though one you might want to save for a special occasion. When the time is right, buy the item at Whole Foods, where you'll enjoy about $1 in savings. The price at Whole Foods is $2.19 for 14.1 ounces compared with $3.29 for 14.5 ounces at Trader Joe's.
This ubiquitous, tangy cheese is a few cents cheaper at Whole Foods. Expect to pay $2.39 for an 8-ounce brick, or $4.78 a pound, versus $2.50 for 8 ounces, or $4.99 a pound, for sharp Wisconsin cheddar at Trader Joe's.
Surprisingly, Whole Foods offers this hot, fiery spice for nearly half the price of Trader Joe's. For $1.99 at Whole Foods you get 0.53 ounce while the same price yields just 0.30 ounce at Trader Joe's.