Food & Drink

How Much More Will You Spend at Whole Foods Than Trader Joe's?

Published On 08/28/2015 Published On 08/28/2015
Lee Breslouer/Thrillist

Everyone who can say "quinoa" knows that shopping at Whole Foods costs more than shopping at Trader Joe's -- even if you're not buying $6 "asparagus water" or getting hosed for prepared foods.

But exactly how much more can you expect to throw down for comparable -- if not the same -- items at Whole Foods than at TJ's? Well, quite a bit, according to a SFGate staff writer, who courageously performed a cost comparison with popular products from stores in the Bay Area. In a surprise to nobody, the writer found that 30 basic items -- ranging from macaroni & cheese to organic applesauce -- will set you back about 20% more at Whole Foods than Trade Joe's -- $133.18 versus $109.27, respectively. Now that's a difference you can shake a paper bag at.

This is far from the first price comparison to make such a predictable discovery, according to a report by Time. For example, Cheapism found that 14 out of 20 store-brand items were cheaper at Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's apparently trades big stores full of lots of brands for smaller, barebones outposts with fewer offerings in order to undercut its competitors' prices, according to the report.

The SFGate writer also points out that you can do significantly more damage at Whole Foods thanks to its ultra-pricey high-end products: "Bottom line: At Trader Joe's everything is affordable while Whole Foods has some fair prices if you stick with the basics, but your wallet will shrivel if you want to put Himalayan yellow raisins on your oatmeal (I bought these once without noticing the price and later looked at my receipt to realize they cost $16. Ouch!)"

It remains to be seen how much Whole Foods' forthcoming "365" budget stores will help.

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and grocery shops omnivorously at all the grocery stores because duh. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.



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