Foodmaster Prices Cheaper Than Whole Foods Prices

We price tested seven supermarkets in the eight Boston neighborhoods Patch serves. The result? Trader Joe's is cheapest (though you won't find rotisserie chicken there.)

Supermarkets — they're big news in Boston. Last year's controversy in JP when a Whole Foods replaced a Latino market led to arrests. This year, Charlestown is embroiled in a debate about Whole Foods taking over Johnnie's Foodmaster.

At the heart of these discussions is whether we, as Bostonians, will have access to affordable food.

To test prices, the Boston Patch editors each went out to various supermarkets in our respective neighborhoods on Thursday, Sept. 6. Here's our shopping list:

  • MacIntosh Apples (price per pound)
  • Bananas (price per pound)
  • Zucchini (price per pound)
  • Corn (price per pound)
  • 2% Milk (gallon)
  • Large eggs (dozen)
  • Whole rotisserie chicken
  • Box of cereal
  • Can of chicken noodle soup
  • White bread (loaf)
  • Toilet paper (six pack)

In some cases, prices had to be approximated due to some stores not carrying a specific item (in the case of Macintosh apples) or because some stores sold certain goods by the pound while other sold it by the piece.

To keep it apples-to-apples, we sought ought the cheapest available option in each store. So, yes, that excludes some of the higher-end, higher-quality organic products.

Here is the list of the supermarkets, from costliest to cheapest. Please note we had to exclude the whole rotisserie chicken because it isn't sold at Trader Joe's. If you include that item, Whole Foods becomes the most expensive store:

  1. , South End — $24.84
  2. Whole Foods, Cambridge Street, West End — $24.05
  3. , West Roxbury — $23.64
  4. , JP — $21.76
  5. , Charlestown — $20.79
  6. Shaw's Landmark Center, Fenway — $20.61
  7. , Back Bay — $18.06


Fenway Shaws Charlestown Foodmaster West End Whole Foods W. Rox Roche Brothers Back Bay Trader Joe's JP Stop & Shop South End Foodie's AVERAGE MacIntosh Apples (lb.) $1.89 $1.99 $1.99 $1.99 $1.49 $1.99 $1.79 $1.88 Bananas (lb.) $0.74 $0.79 $0.79 $0.79 $0.51 $0.69 $0.79 $0.73 Zucchini (lb.) $1.99 $1.99 $2.49 $1.99 $1.84 $1.99 $1.49 $1.97 Corn (lb.) $0.50 $0.42 $0.63 $0.63 $0.63 $0.75 $0.49 $0.58 2% Milk (gallon) $3.49 $2.79 $3.59 $3.99 $3.39 $1.69 $4.39 $3.33 Large eggs (dozen) $2.99 $1.99 $2.89 $2.49 $1.99 $2.59 $1.99 $2.42 Whole rotisserie chicken $7.99 $6.99 $9.99 $5.00

Not sold

$7.99 $8.73 $6.67 Box of cereal $3.59 $2.39 $2.50 $2.69 $1.99 $2.99 $3.89 $2.86 Can of chicken noodle soup $1.99 $0.75 $2.79 $1.99 $1.49 $2.69 $1.83 $1.93 White bread (loaf) $1.39 $2.99 $2.99 $2.39 $2.49 $1.39 $4.49 $2.59 Toilet paper (six pack) $2.04 $4.69 $3.39 $4.69 $2.24 $4.99 $3.69 $3.68 TOTAL $28.60 $27.78 $34.04 $28.64 $18.06 $29.75 $33.57 $28.63
Fenway Shaws Charlestown Foodmaster West End Whole Foods W. Rox Roche Brothers Back Bay Trader Joe's Jamaica Plain Stop & Shop South End Foodie's AVERAGE Without Prepared Chicken $20.61 $20.79 $24.05 $23.64 $18.06 21.76 $24.84 $21.96 Produce Total $5.12 $5.19 $5.90 $5.40 $4.47 5.42 $4.56 $5.15 Processed and Prepared Total $13.57 $10.13 $15.28 $9.68 $3.48 13.67 $14.45 $11.47 Milk, Eggs, Bread $7.87 $7.77 $9.47 $8.87 $7.87 5.67 $10.87 $8.34
Lisa Schievink September 12, 2012 at 08:20 PM
The building cann't be higher than Zelma Lacey. I believe it's only five stories. Also supposed to have underground parking. Don't know much of anything else.
Jay K. September 12, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I was kidding.
Just a person! September 12, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Hey Joseph, you are right I do disagree with a lot of things, especially this issue, yes I also think that the CNC is in the bed with the BRA and, I also think it is time to get rid of that organization (BRA ) another don't ask don't tell group. How quickly they can change things that THEY want! It's all bull---- the CNC supposed to listen to the neighborhood but if you have ever gone to a meeting ,you have to listen to all their bull first, they have the cart before the horse. Tired of them,especially Mark Rosenshein Tom Cunha, and Bill Galvin they are all in bed with someone.. And Lisa I hope you look at the plans it happens to be 7 stories high, not counting the mechanicals.. Go figure !
Just a person! September 12, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Toonie Thank you for putting the link up for the white elephant that they snuck in without the the town knowing. How come they din,t have a picture posted at the sight????? Mmmm yea that's right they don't want the town to know what is going to be there.
Just a person! September 12, 2012 at 09:36 PM
http://www.bennettllc.com/index_Page438.htm Here everybody here is what your getting at west school st. The old KofC Thank you CNC Thank you BRA
TheMaskedTruthsayer September 12, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I wonder how many friends and relatives of CNC will be living in one of those new de-lux units....you know, on one of those "vouch-ya" programs? Scumbags, one and all.
just thinking September 13, 2012 at 12:55 AM
while the prices are not far apart,the quality of the food from johnnies to whole food is so far different. johnnies is like buying used clothes,compared to buying new at whole foods.I would never buy any perishable food at johnnies.it's not worth taking the chance
just thinking September 13, 2012 at 01:02 AM
thats fine if english is your 2 or 3 language,it does not look like you are in america there, VOTE DEMOCRATS OUT
Matt C September 13, 2012 at 04:01 AM
First Alby - thanks for for proving your ignorance. Owen - Thats your prerogative and kind of misses the point of the thread of the conversations.
Toonie September 13, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Joshua Resneck's article from today's Bridge has to be the biggest piece if journalistic crap that has ever graced the front page of a newspaper. Was it supposed to inform or be an editorial? I took journalism at my public high school for one semester and I could have done a better job. Not one useful fact or piece of information was presented. Garbage.
Joseph September 13, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Joshua Resneck is not a journalist. That was pure garbage. Are we certain that wasn't a Letter To The Editor? If this is a professional writing such garbage, God help us all. I counted 12 paragraphs containing a total of 13 sentences. Josh, go back to school. To Josh's boss, you should be fired from your position. Glad we don't get the real news from The Bridge. Hey Patch - How about an article about this seven story structure that was pushed through behind the backs of Charlestown residents? How can we get Suzanne Bump to look into this? Where's the I-Team? FRAUD and CORRUPTION in the CNC and BRA! Anyone hear from their precinct rep lately? Any of them ever reach out to you, or making themselves available? Where are the monthly minutes CNC?
Owen September 13, 2012 at 01:43 PM
"thats fine if english is your 2 or 3 language" I'm not sure tha tyou should be preaching about languages with writing skills like that.
Owen September 13, 2012 at 01:47 PM
What replaces Johnnies is still an issue. This new apartment complex is another issue.
Owen September 13, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Joseph, Have you hounded them with calls and emails? Where do they even meet?
Owen September 13, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Matt C, It absolutely does not miss the point. If you say it does then elaborate on what you said. Your comment came across as saying, "Shut up about Whole Foods. If you don't like Johnnies then go food shopping in Chelsea." If that's taken out of context or something, then you should elaborate on what you really meant.
Matt C September 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Owen - I wasn't complain about whole foods, More stating that there are great alternatives for inexpensive, good quality food with in a nice environment - that is realistically convenient.. The other side of it is that if the demand for lower cost food is there then someone will come in.
Joseph September 13, 2012 at 03:43 PM
They meet on Medford. I have, with emails, not phone calls. I've been to a few meetings, but have never addressed the frauds as to why their site isn't being updated. The fact that they removed the banner stating that minutes will be updated is proof enough that they refuse to keep the residents informed. SHADY!! Each and everyone of them. Hey Tommy Cunha - The community is onto you!! You're supposed to follow your mission statement there pal. Nice work you fraud. If we have Danielle Valle-Fitzgerald, why do we need the CNC?
LBB September 14, 2012 at 02:20 PM
How about if you are on food stamps or WIC????? Ever thought about that in the context of WF?????
Toonie September 14, 2012 at 06:09 PM
LBB, I am going to go ahead and assume that was a sarcastic question. If it wasn't, then I am still laughing. It is that very thought process and sense of entitlement that plagues this country. Those with foodstamps/WIC receive assistance from the government and now they feel their community should bring them the right grocery store? Sounds like a good deal for them!! How about the folks that pay the ridiculous amount of taxes each year so that Foodstampd/WIC exist get to shop for fresh food in their own neighborhood and those that are using the WIC/Foodstamps go find a store that accepts them.
Jillian September 15, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Did you see the tonic water they sell at whole foods? They actually have an assortment, of standard to high end. If you want Polar and some Cheetos, CVS is right next door.
Larry Fine September 15, 2012 at 03:03 PM
At the end of the day, it would really suck if foodmaster vacates the space and we have no grocery store at all or a job lot.
Owen September 15, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Toonie, Honest question: do you feel that the poor are a burden? Do you roll your eyes anytime they dare speak out of turn or ask for anything?
Owen September 15, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I rad it the other day. I'm in total agreement. Absolute garbge.
Marianne Faithfull September 16, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I vote for a Super Walmart; tear down the rink, use the entire Defecit Mall as the Parking and put an overpass foot bridge to the store.
Toonie September 16, 2012 at 03:38 AM
@Owen C - Not at all, but I did roll my eyes at your condescending question. In my opinion, there are enough handouts these days and decisions shouldn't be made solely on the accomodation of people that are on WIC/Food Stamps. The market will drive the appropriate business that should be brought to a neighborhood/community.
Do not like deceit September 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I've tried to give CTown Johnnies the benefit of the doubt, but I bought a lobster roll on Wed. It was marked sell by 9/14 (Fri.) I openned it and realized it smelled a bit odd, took a furtive bite and realized it was ROT! I put it back in the fridge, so that I could return it. By Fri. the last day it could have been sold on and should have been good past that date it had so permeated the fridge with stench, I had to throw everything out. It had to be at least two weeks old at the time of purchase!!!! This is not the only time I have bought food obviously date tampered with and sold as fresh. The smell was so horrid, even in a sealed bag it reeked! One time, it could be an accident--an oversight, twice I question practices and management, three times and you're OUT! Not shopping Johnnies anymore for meats, deli or prepared foods!!!! Looking forward to WHOLE FOODS!!! Sorry you've proved yourselves and I know mine is not the only complaint on this food fresheness, date stamp accuracy issue!!!!
Owen September 16, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Toonie, There was no condescension. I was responding to the tone of several of your posts regarding the financially disadvantaged. What's interesting is that I haven't read a single post on here from a "hand out" recipient complaining that the decision on the proper grocery store for Charlestown. Those complaints have come from people who presumably just don't want Johnnies to leave. I don't classify what the financially disadvantaged receive as "hand outs" because I have never walked a mile in their shoes and can't imagined what it is like to have to survive off of government subsidies.
Owen September 16, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Negative on Walmart. No way.
Just a person! September 17, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Agree Joseph How come no talk about a white elephant in our back yard,with no input from the residents of Charlestown! BRA at its best on this one... People would rather talk about the price of food at Johnnies! Wake up people,, While we are also investigating things how about the other project that is quietly being negotiated behind our backs also, the Jack Millerick life focus site on Rutherford Ave??? Another BRA project,,
Toonie September 18, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Preach on, Owen. You're in the Coast Guard (thank you for your service, btw) and you're not a "yuppie" - we get it. I was simply responding directly to LBBs post about the consideration of those that are on Food Stamps or WIC by stating that I don't believe that considerations should drive any sort of decision one way or another. Whole Foods is a successful corporation that sees something in the locations their targeting. Simple as that. And...."walk a mile in their shoes"....what are you, the lead singer of Everlast or something?


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