Saving Money in LA: Groceries on the Cheap

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Table of Contents
  1. 1. Trader Joe’s
  2. 2. Aldi
  3. 3. Vons
  4. 4. Sprouts Farmers Market
  5. 5. Food 4 Less
  6. 6. Smart & Final Extra!
  7. Bottom Line: Food Shopping in LA Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

Fresh Pacific sushi. Sweet mango smoothies. Thai chicken wraps. Los Angeles is a haven for deliciously exotic flavors. Yes, this foodie-certified city offers a bounty of options from all over the world. The one thing all this food has in common? Price.

Food doesn’t come cheap in the land of swanky eateries like Nobu and Chateau Marmont. But there are a handful of grocery stores where you can spend less and eat just as well if you’re willing to put on the chef’s hat and do a little cooking in your own kitchen.

Here are some of our favorite cheapest LA grocery stores.

1. Trader Joe’s

For many Californians, Trader Joe’s is the go-to grocery store, and why not? The first Trader Joe’s opened in Pasadena in 1967 and has been serving Angelenos ever since. The Pasadena stores (a total of five) remain the flagship location where you can find 99-cent pasta and pick up a gallon of milk for less than $3.

You can get some pretty good grapes at Trader Joe’s, too. Says one Yelper who frequents the Santa Monica location: “I also rely on the good folks in the wine department to recommend a best value wine…I can happily report that last week’s Pinot Noir recommendation was on point.” And we can happily report that Trader Joe’s does carry a selection of $5 wines. Now that’s something to toast to!

2. Aldi

Aldi, the German grocery giant known for it’s great prices (and no frills shopping experience) is expanding its presence in California, as the grocer opened a new location in Panorama City in April 2019 and plans to open about 15 more locations in Southern California in the coming year alone.

Aldi is increasing its selection of fresh food, organic products and easy prep meals as they fight for market share with other California supermarkets – which is all good news for California consumers! Aldi runs promotions all the time and is always a source for a great deal.

3. Vons

Buying local is best, and Vons is another grocery store that lets you do just that. Headquartered in Fullerton, Vons isn’t the cheapest store on this list, but it hasn’t yet entered “Whole Paycheck” territory either. With locations all over the L.A. map (including East Hollywood, Burbank, and Koreatown), some Vons stores are open 24/7 while others close as late as 2 a.m. The convenience factor may balance out the prices, which some customers describe as average.

Other customers, though, are happy with the prices. One Yelper who frequents the Koreatown Vons gushes, “You can choose from many different rolls and bagels, all fresh, for $0.69!” Plus, Vons’ online weekly ad recently featured 3 cartons of eggs for $5. So, while Vons might not be the place to shop for dinner, it could be just the spot to start your Sunday brunch!

4. Sprouts Farmers Market

Who doesn’t like a farmers market, especially one that carries a full line of organic foods and sells chicken breasts for $1.88 a pound? With those offerings, you won’t have to compromise good quality for a good price. Sprouts markets itself as “the grocery shopping experience that makes healthy living easy and affordable.”

Like many stores, Sprouts is catching on to the gluten-free trend and boasts a wide variety of vitamins, nuts, and seeds for the health-conscious bargain hunter. This Burbank Yelper elaborates: “The prices are great compared to Whole Foods and the quality of their food is just as good.”

5. Food 4 Less

Well, the name says it all, doesn’t it? This bargain grocery chain sells cheaper food than most places in L.A., but the downside is that the quality may be lacking. Yelpers give low ratings to the fruits, veggies, meat, and other fresh staples here.

The solution? Splurge on fresh foods at another supermarket and then stock up on your non-perishables at Food 4 Less. Spices, canned goods, and even a box of Moroccan couscous are pantry items that you can save big on at Food 4 Less. You can also make a slew of quick, easy meals using nothing but pantry items, including this Spinach Tortellini Soup.

6. Smart & Final Extra!

Conveniently located in downtown Los Angeles, this supermarket is popular with locals not just for the food selection but also the coffee shop and plentiful free parking. Customers also praise the prices, as one Yelper says, “This store is a lot cheaper to shop at in comparison to nearby Whole Foods, Target, and Ralph’s.”

Smart & Final Extra! also offers an Instacart grocery delivery service for busy shoppers and loads of coupons to save even more. Each week, the store posts dozens of coupons on its website, saving you money on items like breakfast cereals, salad dressing, and even baby food.

Bottom Line: Food Shopping in LA Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

You can find awesome deals on diverse food in many places. A little meal-planning, coupon-clipping, and bargain-hunting go a long way in this city! Your wallet (and waistline) will thank you for it.

Final tips:

  • Put down the frozen dinner! Walk yourself right out of that freezer aisle and into the produce section, where you’ll find food that’s both cheaper and healthier.
  • Whip up a nourishing meal on Sunday night and don’t throw out those leftovers! Preparing a large dish, like vegetable lasagna, and eating it throughout the work week will save you something much more valuable than money: your time.

Cooking is an art, so get creative and work with what you’ve got! If there’s nothing in the fridge but eggs and tomatoes, plus some basic rice and beans in the pantry, you can make this tasty Mexican dish. Buen Provecho!

Last, Amazon just announced that it will be lowering prices at Whole Foods.  While they have a long way to go before they make it onto the list of cheap grocers, stay tuned to see how low they go.

Like this series? Check out our other recent Saving Money in LA articles:

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