Various factors influence our decision of where to settle down. One factor that might not have weighed into your calculations (but probably should have) is the cost of food. In fact, the average price of groceries varies considerably as you cross over different state borders. Considering the fact that most Americans spend 5.2% of their paycheck at the supermarket, grocery pricing is no small expense to work into the equation.
Even a somewhat budget-conscious consumer is going to want to know where the most (and least!) expensive places to live are when it comes to grocery shopping. Here are the 5 most expensive states in America to go grocery shopping, followed quickly by the 5 least expensive states. That way you can start planning your relocation before you have a heart attack looking at those price tags.
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Grocery Shopping by the State: Crunching the Numbers
Of course, various states and cities will have varying prices for different types of grocery staples. For example, half a gallon of milk in Massachusetts will cost you just $1.97 versus the $3.21 you’ll pay in Rhode Island. Meanwhile, you’ll pay a substantial buck and half more in Mass than in some other states if you want a nice ribeye steak. Many factors contribute to these price differences, including availability, types of grocery stores and services available, population, supply and demand, and more.
It makes sense that a bushel of apples is going to be more expensive in an urban jungle than it would be out in the middle of a Virginia plantation town. So geographical location plays a major role in determining the final price tag that gets tacked onto an item.
The type of store you’re shopping in will also vary the price range. You can expect to pay more at a specialty store, a 24/7 shop, or a premium service grocer’s market than you will at your average Costco, Fareway, or Trader Joe’s.
Coast-to-coast (think New York and Cali) is the priciest way to go for groceries. What’s interesting about this list is that it reflects the obvious: general higher costs of living and transportation costs amount to higher grocery bills. Hence the presence of the 3 major high-priced living states and the 2 farthest for transport states. Let’s take a look.
#10 Priciest grocery shopping state: New York
New York is currently the 3rd most expensive state to live in, according to a CNBC study. With a booming housing market that on average could run you close to a cool 2 mill, it’s not surprising that NY topped the list. But statistics vary slightly about which city is the priciest for groceries. All agree that Queens and Brooklyn are up there. Manhattan pulls ahead with grocery prices that are 39.7% above the national average. And coming in way, way, WAY at the top of this list is New York City with a nauseating 140.58% price hike on your pantry stuffers.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $2.56
Price for a dozen eggs: $6.70
Fun fact: Potato chips, originally known as Saratoga chips, were born in New York in 1853 after a fussy restaurant patron complained that his french fries were too thick.
#9 Priciest grocery shopping state: Hawaii
Next on the list comes Hawaii. While this state leads the pack with the most beautiful states, Hawaiians will pay for those beach scenes in their supermarket sprees. Honolulu is particularly high, averaging 69.3% higher than the national average. Prices from produce like tomatoes to a basic bottle of table wine are significantly higher (think $3.20 for a bottle of Coke versus the $1.25 you’ll pay elsewhere).
Price for half a gallon of milk: $4.18
Price for a dozen eggs: $6
Fun fact: Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Grown in the volcanic-rich slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa, Kona coffee can cost anywhere from $8 to $65 a pound.
#8 Priciest grocery shopping state: California
Another state you would expect to find on the most expensive anything list is California. Think Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles, and it’s not hard to understand this ranking. San Francisco and Oakland are actually among the highest priced groceries, clocking in at 35.6% and 39.4%, respectively.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $2.86
Price for a dozen eggs: $4.74
Fun fact: California is responsible for a tremendous amount of the overall food production around the country. Growing about half the produce in the US, California also claims bragging rights for 99% of the almonds, walnuts, rice, pomegranates, olives, artichokes, dates, kiwis.
#7 Priciest grocery shopping state: Alaska
Alaska might be a cool place to live (haha!), but it’ll cost you the higher price of groceries. For those fuzzy mukluks, Alaskans will pay anywhere from 34.5% to 50% more. Anchorage and Juneau have the highest rates in the state. Good news for pescatarians, though. Alaska is the motherland for salmon, crab, herring, and halibut, with loads of varieties, and reasonable prices for a fillet.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $2.53
Price for a dozen eggs: $3.69
Fun fact: Lingonberries hailing from Alaska have roughly 8 times more antioxidants than other berries grown in the mainland US. Wild blueberries are found to have up to 10 times more!
#6 Priciest grocery shopping state: Washington
Washington has more than a few cities with significantly higher than average grocery staple prices. Notably, Mt Vernon Skagit County (21.5%) and Seattle (28.6%) have pushed the limits past the national average. The state is responsible for the most apple production in the country, and, happily, the price for this delicious fruit is not something you’ll pay (much) more for.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $2.10
Price for a dozen eggs: $3.58
Fun fact: Seattle is home to the original (and possibly the only) organic and fair trade chocolate bars in the United States.
Close runner-ups include:
- Rhode island
- New Jersey
These are the states with the lowest grocery prices in the US:
On the flip side, there are some cities and states that excel at giving their residents the best prices on groceries. That’s not to say they have the lowest cost of living across the board. But cities with lower grocery bills definitely lean towards the lower end of the spectrum in most cases. Here are the 5 most economical places to do your grocery shopping:
#5 Most reasonably-priced grocery shopping state: Texas
Four cities in Texas ranked among the lowest priced grocery locations in the country, including Temple, McAllen, Wichita Falls, and Brazoria County. Other cities like Waco, Round Rock, Harlingen, and Houston also ranked among the lowest prices on items like OJ, Cereal, produce, steak, eggs, and milk. In case you’re not great with numbers, that makes 8 cities that have made headlines for being affordably-priced groceries. And we thought it was the relaxed gun laws that made Texans so happy.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $1.30
Price for a dozen eggs: $2.27
Fun fact: Dr. Pepper was discovered by a pharmacist while blending some flavors down in Waco, Texas.
#4 Most reasonably-priced grocery shopping state: Michigan
Kalamazoo, Michigan has the most affordable prices for some basic grocery items you shop for every day. Things like eggs, OJ, and bread have rock-bottom pricing, making Michigan a great place to live if you love a good homemade breakfast! Post and Kellogs both claim Michigan as their stomping grounds, and Kalamazoo ranks 4th in most affordable places for breakfast cereals as well.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $1.20
Price for a dozen eggs: $2.13
Fun fact: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? It’s an iconic question we all grew up with, but a plucky student down at the University of Michigan decided to find out. He created a machine that resembled a human tongue to test out this popular sucker. Consensus? 411 licks!
#3 Most reasonably-priced grocery shopping state: Missouri
Missouri is a great location for wonderfully-affordable groceries and has earned the significantly below-the-national-average rating in a study done by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Another great place to live if you love your morning routine; this state has particularly favorable pricing for things like eggs, milk, and bananas.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $1.40
Price for a dozen eggs: $1.67
Fun fact: One of everyone’s favorite childhood indulgences, the ice cream cone comes from Missouri.
#2 Most reasonably-priced grocery shopping state: Mississippi
Mississippi isn’t one of the cheapest places to live (and it has one of the higher rankings when it comes to consumer spending on things like beauty and hair care products, FYI). Its placement on this list is mostly due to the fact that the Hospitality State has a wide range of chain stores like Walmart, Winn Dixie, and Save A Lot. By sheer virtue of the massive supplies available from these big box stores, Mississippians get the benefit of much lower pricing on their grocery shopping. Mississippi does have a 7% sales tax on food, though. Surprisingly, the overall cost of supermarket runs is STILL at the lowest end of the national average.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $1.70
Price for a dozen eggs: $1.97
Fun fact: Biloxi, Mississippi is where the first root beer was invented.
#1 Most reasonably-priced grocery shopping state: Oklahoma
Oklahoma also has its fair share of chain stores including Albertsons, Whole Foods, Aldi Walmart, Target. Sam’s Club, and Costco. Oklahoma is home to some of the most reasonably-priced groceries in the country. That is, as long as you pick the right cities! Avoid Tulsa like the plague. Instead, stick to places like Oklahoma City, Blackwell, Seminole, and Holdenville.
Price for half a gallon of milk: $1.50
Price for a dozen eggs: $1.75
Fun fact: While most states have an official state food, Oklahoma does it one better, declaring an entire state meal. This presidential feast consists of: BBQ pork, chicken fried steak, sausage and gravy, with a side of fried okra, squash cornbread, black-eyed peas, corn, grits, biscuits, and a dessert of strawberries and pecan pie.
Yes, You Can Save Money On Your Weekly Groceries
From weather conditions to major world events, food prices are in constant flux. Americans are seeing a rise in grocery staple costs. So now might be the best time to consider a change in scenery with more affordable shopping options nearer to home. For your budget-watching pleasure, here are a few helpful tricks for saving money on your weekly grocery trips:
- Never shop on an empty stomach. When you’re hungry, all rules go out the window. You’ll buy food to satiate that hangry vibe...at any cost!
- Go with a list. You’re more likely to overspend on unnecessary purchases if you don’t know what you actually need.
- Don’t make it a social event. You’re much more likely to overshop if you load up your cart while gabbing away with a friend.
- Try online shopping. This can cut out a ton of impulse buying, saves you time, and frequently comes with digital coupons for bigger savings.
- Shop weekly or bi-weekly instead of daily or every few days.
- Don’t default to popular brands. Often the store brands are just as good and significantly cheaper.