Best bang for your buck: Houston's cheapest grocery stores

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - What could you do with an extra $300? That's about how much you could save if you switch up your routine to buy only your grocery staples from the lowest-priced grocery store each week.

Consumer expert Amy Davis did the comparison shop to show you which store holds the title of Houston's low price leader. 

Davis does this same comparison every few years to get a sense of which stores are saving shoppers the most money on staples they buy every week. If you're not switching up your shopping routine based on what she finds, you are blowing what could be enough money for a family vacation. 

Davis purchased nine products from five Houston grocery stores: Aldi, HEB, Kroger, Joe V's Smart Shop and Walmart. 

The products were bread, milk, eggs, toilet paper, coffee, shredded cheddar cheese, orange juice, cereal and a two-liter bottle of Coke Zero.     

All nine items cost us the most money, $25.50, at Kroger.

The next cheapest was Aldi at $24.58. We couldn't buy the exact same products at Aldi because the chain doesn't carry many name brand products.  Instead of Community Coffee, we had to settle for the store brand. Instead of Coke Zero, we had to buy Coke. 

All of the items at HEB cost us $24.32. 

Walmart's total was $23.89. 

We paid the least amount, just $20.04, at Joe V's, a discount chain owned by HEB, with nine Houston-area locations. 

"One of the ways that you have low prices is that you have to start with low expenses," explained HEB's Scot McClelland.

Joe V's employees don't bag your groceries, for example. All of the products are stocked in crates or on flats in the store.

"One of the things that you don't give up when you shop at Joe V's is quality," McClelland told Davis. "The products get shipped out of the HEB warehouse just like they do at the HEB stores."

You could do a full shop at Joe V's, but even if you just shopped for your main items there each week, you would save $283.92 over the course of a year instead of buying them from the highest-priced store in our comparison, Kroger.

If you like a lot of choices and variety, you may prefer a larger store. Joe V's carries about 6,000 items compared to a regular HEB that stocks about 45,000 products. 

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