I went grocery shopping at Walmart and Target for the first time, and there's only one I would shop at again

·6 min read
grocery aisle at target
Does Target have a better grocery section than Walmart? Frank Olito/Insider
  • I shopped for my weekly groceries at Walmart and Target for the first time to see how they compared.

  • Walmart was cheaper, but the location I visited had a smaller grocery section and empty shelves.

  • Since Target had everything I needed for the week, I would go back again.

I shop at Whole Foods or Stop & Shop each week, but I've always wondered what it would be like to stock up at a discounted store like Walmart or Target.

exterior of Walmart and target side by side
Walmart vs. Target. Jessica Kirsh & HappyCreator/Shutterstock

Each week, I spend about $100 on groceries from Whole Foods via Amazon or Stop & Shop via Instacart. I usually pay more than most because I buy organic items and am willing to shell out more for the convenience of delivery.

But I've always wondered how much money I would save and what the shopping experience would be like at discount stores like Walmart and Target.

Over the course of two weeks, I decided to shop for groceries at Walmart and Target — and there's only one I would shop at again.

My first stop was Walmart, which I found far outside of New York City.

The exterior of a walmart from the parking lot
Walmart. Frank Olito/Insider

I live in Brooklyn, and there is no Walmart located in New York City. I had to take a $20 train up to my mother's house in the Hudson Valley to visit the Walmart in Mohegan Lake.

I took note from the onset that if I enjoyed my shopping experience at Walmart, it would be quite the effort to do this weekly, and it could get costly with the train ticket.

I found the grocery section in the back of the store.

A wide aisle at walmart filled with cereals and oatmeal
The aisles were wide. Frank Olito/Insider

The grocery section had very wide aisles, which I enjoyed because it never felt as if I was shopping on top of other customers. But I was disheartened to realize that the entire section at this particular store was just eight aisles.

I quickly realized that the store didn't have everything I needed for the week.

A sign that reads "grocery" hanging above shelves of candy in a walmart
Walmart helped me save money. Frank Olito/Insider

The Walmart didn't have many of the organic brands I usually buy at Whole Foods or Stop & Shop. Plus I couldn't find a fresh produce or meat section in the store despite advertisements for it on the store's website.

I had to supplement this grocery trip with another trip to my local grocery store when I got back to Brooklyn for fruit, vegetables, and chicken breasts.

I was also confused as to why some of the shelves were mostly empty.

empty shelves with some products in a walmart
Some shelves were empty. Frank Olito/Insider

Some shelves were completely stocked, but others had only one or two items in stock.

But I did like how all the discounts were clearly advertised throughout the grocery section.

discount signs above a shelf of pop tarts at Walmart
The discount signs helped. Frank Olito/Insider

I was able to find the best deals by using these large signs, which made the shopping experience much easier.

A few weeks later, I visited Target in the Hudson Valley even though there are locations near my apartment in Brooklyn.

exterior of target
Target. Frank Olito/Insider

There are several Targets within a train ride from my apartment, which already gives Target a leg up in this comparison.

But I was visiting my mother in the Hudson Valley again when I decided to do this experiment. We went to the Target in Monroe, New York.

I imagine the suburban store might be a bit different from shopping at the urban Targets closer to my apartment in Brooklyn.

Just like Walmart, the grocery section at Target was also in the back of the store.

Target's grocery section
Target's grocery section. Frank Olito/Insider

I followed the giant signs that hung from the ceiling, showing pictures of fresh produce.

But unlike the Walmart I visited, the grocery section at Target was massive.

A look down the long aisles of the grocery section at target
There were 14 aisles of groceries. Frank Olito/Insider

There were 14 aisles in this Target compared to the eight at the Walmart in Mohegan Lake.

The main aisle was a one-stop shop of necessities.

the produce section in wood buckets at target
The produce. Frank Olito/Insider

This aisle had produce, poultry, chopped meat, cheeses, and baked goods.

Target also had an entire wall of freezers and refrigerators.

freezers filled with frozen foods at target
The freezer section. Frank Olito/Insider

While walking down this aisle, I realized how much bigger and more diverse the selection was at this Target. For example, they had just about every kind of milk, including oat and almond.

The back wall also housed juices, fruits, and other grocery items that needed to be chilled.

As I went through my grocery list at the stores, I noticed I saved some money at both.

oatmeal sitting on a shelf with a sign that reads $5
The oatmeal was cheap. Frank Olito/Insider

Normally I pay between $4 and $5 for a box of eight oatmeal packets from my nearest Stop & Shop. At Walmart, it cost $5.12 for a pack of 20. That means I was able to buy double the amount of oatmeal for the same price.

On the other hand, Target didn't sell the pack of 20, but the eight pack cost just $3, so I still saved money.

My favorite Oreos were also cheaper at both stores, but Walmart had the slightly better savings.

stacks of oreos and chips ahoy on shelves at a walmart
The snack section's discounts. Frank Olito/Insider

A party-size box of Oreos costs $7 at Stop & Shop, but it cost just $6 at Target. At Walmart, the same package cost $4.82.

Starbucks coffee beans were also cheaper at Walmart.

Starbucks coffee on shelving at a target
Starbucks coffee. Frank Olito/Insider

A package of Starbucks' house blend at Stop & Shop costs about $9 to $12 depending on the size. At Target, though, they sell for $7 to $10, and at Walmart, it cost $4 to $10.

Every week, I buy mixed nuts, and I saved money only at Walmart.

a container of mixed nuts on an empty shelf with a sign that reads $4.62
Nuts were cheaper too. Frank Olito/Insider

At Stop & Shop, I typically pay $6 to $8 for a container of mixed nuts. At Walmart, it cost just $4.62, but at Target, it was $8.

While Walmart is slightly cheaper, I would return only to Target to shop for groceries again.

Target shopping bags on a table
I'd definitely shop at Target again. Frank Olito/Insider

After shopping at Target and Walmart for the first time, I had a clear favorite.

At Walmart, I saved about 50% of my usual grocery budget. Although the store had great prices and was generally cheaper, it didn't have everything I needed, some of the shelves were empty, and the grocery section was quite small. Plus, there are no Walmarts close to my house, so it's not necessarily a viable option — some of the savings I'd make on groceries would instead be spent on the train getting there.

Meanwhile, Target was slightly more expensive, but the prices were still less than what I usually pay, saving me $20 for the week. The store also had a massive selection. Everything I needed was in 14 packed aisles.

I can definitely see myself heading to Target near my apartment and continuing to save on groceries each week.

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