The 15 Best Grocery Stores in America, Ranked by Value
Is it possible to save money on groceries and still have a pleasant shopping experience? If you head to the best grocery stores in the country, the answer is a resounding yes!
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The top grocery stores of 2022
If you feel like your trips to the grocery store have been burning a bigger hole in your wallet lately, you’re not imagining things. According to the latest Consumer Price Index figures, prices at grocery stores have been up 13.1% over the past year, the largest 12-month increase since 1979. Plus, in addition to inflation, there’s shrinkflation—when product sizes shrink, but their prices don’t—a sneaky grocery store secret they’re hoping you don’t notice. In short, it’s more important than ever to find the best deals. But saving money on groceries is just one of the things that defines the best grocery stores. There’s a lot more to the equation, which is why we rounded up the top shops and ranked them by value.
What we mean by “best value”
The best grocery stores offer the most bang for your buck while also providing great service. After all, what good are low prices when you can’t find what you’re looking for? Or if the shelves are filthy and the cashiers are surly? That’s why, in determining these rankings, we also considered results from a variety of surveys that covered the experience attributes that matter most to consumers. They include:
- Item availability
- Quality of product
- Ease of finding desired items
- Store cleanliness
- Checkout speed
- Cashier courteousness
- Discounts, promotions and rewards
- Specialty department service
With that in mind, here’s our list of the best grocery stores where you can get everything you need—without a headache. Happy shopping!
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Company cultures, values and environmental and social policies are in the spotlight now more than ever. Socially conscious consumers care how a corporate giant is making a difference in the world, and Kroger stands out from the pack. Kroger created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative in the fall of 2020 and also has programs that aim to end hunger and eliminate waste in its communities by 2025. This chain’s various branches also participate in local outreach, such as donating supplies to natural disaster victims and funding food pantries.
Aside from being a grocery store with an amazing reputation, Kroger also earned a spot on Statista and Newsweek‘s survey of America’s Best Retailers of 2022. One big reason: The store is a leader in promotions and rewards … and, hey, who doesn’t love a freebie? Phil Lempert, founder of Supermarket Guru, also notes that Kroger has an exceptional frequent-shopper card program.
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14. Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart is one of the largest food retailers in the country. In 2021, it accounted for more than a quarter of all grocery revenue in the United States, with $467 billion in grocery sales! Walmart introduced Neighborhood Markets in 1998, and there are now more than 600 nationwide. Smaller than their namesake superstore, but larger than a typical supermarket, these one-stop shops offer more than just nicely priced pantry staples. They each have a full-service deli, an in-store bakery, fresh produce and meat departments, locally sourced goods and an expanded selection of organic and nutritionally focused food choices.
According to Lempert, you can expect to find the same everyday low prices that Walmart is known for. To offer more savings, the store also accepts manufacturers’ coupons, and there is no limit on the number of coupons that can be used in a total transaction.
Fareway is a growing Midwest chain operating in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. The family-owned company says its mission is to treat customers and employees like family, and their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Data science company Dunnhumby ranked America’s best grocery retailers according to consumer preferences in 2022, and Fareway earned a spot in its top 15. It received high scores for its positive treatment of staff, noting that “employee love leads to customer love.” In other words, well-treated and engaged workers are more motivated to interact positively with customers.
Plus, the best grocery stores are the ones that are always looking to make improvements. To keep up with changing grocery store habits, Fareway now accepts PayPal and Venmo.
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12. Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods nabbed the fifth spot on Statista’s list of America’s Best Retailers. The specialty supermarket is best known for its organic and healthy options, but its high prices were often a deterrent for shoppers. That changed in 2017 when Amazon purchased the company. Since its acquisition, prices have dropped dramatically. Prime members can receive additional in-store deals, as well as access discounts on its convenient grocery shopping app.
The focus, however, still remains on clean products. There are currently more than 230 banned ingredients that don’t meet Whole Foods’s quality standards (like hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup and sweeteners such as aspartame), and that list is constantly evolving. And despite Amazon’s involvement, there’s been an increased effort to stock small and local brands. A new Emerging Accelerator Program helps up-and-coming producers earn a coveted spot on their shelves—plus, it offers mentorship, education opportunities and even financial support to help grow their businesses.
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11. Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club earned an eighth-place spot on Dunnhumby’s overall best grocery retailers list, and on Dunnhumby’s list of the top grocery stores ranked by price, it’s No. 11. Out of the three major warehouse-club chains, Sam’s Club has the most affordable fees, at $50 a year. (Costco costs $60, and BJ’s is $55.) And here’s a hot tip: Always Google “membership deals” before signing up for any warehouse club. Sam’s often offers a new member discount, like a $45-off coupon when you join. Independent sites, such as Groupon or Stack Social, also offer deals on these annual memberships. At press time, Stack Social was offering one for just $24.99.
And, of course, the deals are great once you’re there. But our favorite in-store Sam’s perk is that you don’t have to wait in the checkout line—ever. Use Sam’s Scan & Go app to scan and pay as you shop. You can also hit up their selection of gift cards for up to 25% off 130-plus food and retail brands like Southwest Airlines, Panera Bread and AMC Theater movie tickets.
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When it comes to hefty savings on bulk items, Costco reigns supreme. It earned the top spot among warehouse clubs on Statista’s list of America’s Best Retailers. Dunnhumby also ranked it No. 9 in its overall best grocery stores list and No. 6 in the best prices roundup. Plus, Costco has one of the strongest private-brand perceptions—people love Kirkland, which offers everything from household supplies to frozen meals to clothing for the entire family. “Costco is [also] one of the best places to buy meat in the country,” says Lempert. “They do more inspections than the whole federal government does for all the other supermarket chains.”
Customer-friendly perks are also a highlight. Costco has a generous return policy, with a “risk-free, 100% satisfaction guarantee.” You can return almost anything (with some exceptions, like electronics), at any time, no questions asked—including food you’ve already opened! Costco also honors its sale prices: If you notice that the price of something you bought has gone down within 30 days of your purchase, you can put in a request online to get the difference refunded. Here are more Costco secrets you need to know.
A 2022 Harris Poll named this Texas-based chain one of America’s most trusted brands—No. 2 (followed by Patagonia and Hershey). It also received high ranks on Dunnhumby’s best grocery stores (No. 2) and best prices lists (No. 10). Shoppers can count on finding a wide selection of high-quality products, including H-E-B’s own best-in-class private brand, at affordable prices.
Lempert calls H-E-B “phenomenal” and “one of the best retailers in the nation.” He points to its abundance of good-for-you items, as well as its staff of dietitians, who emphasize healthy recipes, and excellent customer service. H-E-B is also known for giving back to the community, supporting local charities and getting involved through disaster relief, education initiatives (donating more than $10 million annually to Texas education programs) and hunger relief (donating more than 1 billion pounds of food to date).
8. WinCo Foods
WinCo Foods was founded in 1967 as a no-frills warehouse-style store with low prices, and it still maintains its exceptional value at its 135-plus locations. “They have a unique positioning in the marketplace,” says Lempert. “They’re all about value, but they’ve also done a great job on remodeling the stores, so you’re not really giving up anything to be able to have those great prices.”
There are a few other standout factors that make it one of the best grocery stores. To start, WinCo is employee-owned—the people who work at each store become part-owners of the company. Any time there’s an employee-owned retailer, you’ll find that the staff usually enjoys being there, which translates to a better experience for the shopper, explains Lempert. “You’re not going into a store where everyone hates working there, and that comes across to you as a shopper,” he says.
While prices remain affordable year-round at this 24-hour grocery store, you can also find coupons online, as well as a “Wall of Values” area. Find out the cheapest day of the week to shop, and plan your week around these savings. Another perk: A bulk-bin food department with more than 800 items (like rice, dried beans, pastas and more) allows shoppers to buy as little or as much as they like. But when it’s time to check out, be aware: As another effort to keep prices low, they don’t accept credit cards.
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7. Market Basket
A New England–based, family-owned chain with 90 locations in four states, Market Basket is competitively priced. While devoted patrons appreciate the hard-to-beat prices, it’s the overall shopping experience that keeps them coming back. A “customers first” philosophy offers superior service, smooth operations and consistent cleanliness. Shoppers are so loyal, they even wrote a book about Market Basket!
This grocery store even ranked third on Dunnhumby’s best grocery stores list, an impressive feat for a regional store. Each location features more than 52,000 items, including an assortment of international purveyors, as well as community-specific products. Shoppers can eat, drink and hang out in the comfy in-store cafe seating area—complete with complimentary Wi-Fi and mounted televisions. And don’t miss the impressive sushi department. Sushi chefs create specialty rolls, as well as custom orders upon request.
6. BJ’s Wholesale Club
These days, it’s not uncommon to find empty shelves or out-of-stock items on your grocery run. You won’t have that problem at BJ’s, which recently streamlined its operations by acquiring additional distribution centers and temperature-controlled transportation fleets. According to Michael G. Clayman, editor of Warehouse Club Focus, BJ’s also has the biggest selection available among warehouse clubs, with 5,550 different items for sale. (Sam’s has 4,648 SKUs, while Costco stocks 3,620 products.)
While it’s known for big savings on big quantities, BJ’s is the only warehouse club that offers supermarket-like products in smaller quantities. “You can go there and save money and not have to buy those gigantic sizes,” Lempert says.
The superstore also offers loads of promotions and rewards, so you can counter the grocery store items with the highest markups. It accepts manufacturers’ coupons (which you can stack with BJ’s coupons) and also provides discounts on special services like travel, home improvement and insurance. You can even get free maintenance on car tires. Improving convenience and expanding access is also a major initiative. BJ’s was the first wholesale club available on DoorDash, allowing non-members to receive a selection of products on-demand, and also offers Same-Day Select, which delivers groceries to BJ’s customers in two hours or less.
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Lidl stands out for its specialized service and premium products at an affordable price. It ranked No. 4 on Dunnhumby’s most affordable grocery stores list. The chain—which boasts 150 stores across nine states on the East Coast—is dedicated to offering the best value possible, which is evident from its recently launched fall campaign. In response to soaring inflation, Lidl is dropping prices on a rotating selection of 100 items in all its stores, which will continue throughout the season.
When it comes to selection, instead of a massive variety, Lidl prides itself on serving up an expertly curated selection from local purveyors, regional farms and European brands. Plus, says Lempert, “when you go into a Lidl, you’ll likely be surprised by how great the prepared foods and the wines are.” In addition to food, you’ll find small kitchen appliances, gardening gear, power tools and even toys.
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“More than any other store on this list, Aldi is the one to beat when it comes to cheap groceries,” says Clark Howard, founder of Clark.com. “Customers can save up to 50% off traditional supermarket prices and up to 30% off Walmart prices.” So it’s no surprise that Aldi has been No. 1 on Dunnhumby’s most affordable retailer list for five years running. Dunnhumby also praises the store for its speed, noting that saving time is a top priority for customers. Getting in and out of the store quickly, which includes a fast checkout process, remains an essential value.
With more than 2,100 locations across 38 states and plans to open 150 more by the end of the year, it’s also one of the fastest-growing chains in the United States.
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Publix was founded in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida, with the goal of bringing a luxury experience to the chore of grocery shopping. And anyone who shops at Publix surely agrees with its motto: “Where shopping is a pleasure.” It ranked high on Statista and Dunnhumby’s lists, and its focus on customer service is evident. It has a liberal return policy—you’ll get a full refund if you’re unhappy with a purchase for any reason (or a gift card if you don’t have a receipt). And if during checkout, the scanned price of an item exceeds the shelf or advertised price, you’ll get that item for free. The deals don’t stop with weekly specials and BOGO promotions either; Publix stores also accept manufacturer, internet and competitor coupons.
As for what you’ll get aside from grocery staples, Publix has its own popular private brand and in-store bakery. Plus, the deli counter churns out classic and custom sandwiches, which have a cult following. (They’re lovingly dubbed “Pub subs.”)
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2. Trader Joe’s
Although it was a tough choice, Trader Joe’s edged out Publix for the No. 2 slot on our list of the best grocery stores. That’s because in addition to its cool vibe, unique and often healthy products, courteous cashiers, quick checkout and store cleanliness, its prices are simply astounding. “It’s the prices that really draw people in,” notes Howard. “Trader Joe’s sells some brand-name products under its own private label at half off what you’d pay at a traditional supermarket.” Items here rank high among the things money experts tend to buy cheap.
Another impressive feature that sets apart Trader Joe’s? Its prices are the same at every store in the country, whether you’re shopping in New York City or Kansas. In addition to Trader Joe’s being one of the best brands for groceries, the 2022 Harris Poll on reputation rankings ranked it No. 1, confirming it is one of the most trustworthy places to shop.
Wegmans earns the top spot on our list of the best grocery stores because it offers competitive pricing and gets high marks for cleanliness, item availability, staff courtesy, high-quality produce and store-prepared EZ Meals. And we’re not the only ones who think it’s amazing. It was named America’s favorite grocery store in Statista’s survey and was Dunnhumby’s first choice for overall quality, drawing high marks for its product freshness and variety, natural and organic options, and store-specific selection. Plus, the Harris Poll called it one of the most trusted brands in the United States. It also has a fan-favorite in-house brand that focuses on “food you feel good about,” with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
But, says Lempert, “their secret sauce is that they train their employees and pay them better than average.” Wegmans proves that if you take care of your staff, they will stay—and that comes across to shoppers, who’ve been known to line up outside a new location the day before it opens.
It’s our No. 1 choice, simply put, for making everyday shopping more enjoyable. For starters, you can eat and drink while you peruse the aisles. Get a latte from the coffee bar, nosh on hot food offerings from the market cafe or Mediterranean bar (some locations even have sit-down specialty restaurants in-store), and then hit up the on-site florists for some bespoke bouquets on your way out.
Now that you know the best grocery stores, save even more with these tips to lower your other household bills.
Additional reporting by Lauren Cahn.
- McKinsey & Company: “Navigating the market headwinds: The state of grocery retail 2022”
- Newsweek: “America’s Best Retailers 2022”
- The Harris Poll: “Corporate Reputation Rankings”
- Dunnhumby: “The 5th Annual Retailer Preference Index: U.S. Grocery Channel Edition”
- Phil Lempert, founder of Supermarket Guru
- Michael G. Clayman, editor of Warehouse Club Focus
- Clark Howard, founder of Clark.com
- Leah Ingram, author and writer at the Real Sophisticated Consumer