Editor's note: This story was updated after its initial publication to include several factors that can affect grocery price comparisons. The shopping took place over several weeks, meaning some of the prices reported may have shifted over that period, potentially affecting totals. In addition, several of the chain stores featured offer value brand options that more closely match prices at discount competitors.

Eight dollars for a carton of eggs. Seven bucks for a box of Cheerios. For many Twin Cities families, grocery shopping has become a painfully pricey chore.

Food price increases have been front of mind since the pandemic spurred a host of supply chain issues four years ago. More recent hikes in the cost of food can be tied to the war in Ukraine, rising grain prices and high energy costs associated with the production of food, said Tyler Schipper, an associate economics professor at the University of St. Thomas.

There is a disconnect between how economists or policymakers talk about inflation and how people experience it when they are shopping, he said.

"People go to the grocery store, they don't see inflation on the shelves, they see the prices on the shelves and they think something looks really expensive," Schipper said. "And they hear policymakers talking about how things are getting better, but they still see that high price."

There will be no return to 'normal' prices if the normal people are looking for is 2019. Historically, prices only go in one direction — up — and there would have to be a serious economic downturn for price tags to look anything like they did five years ago, Schipper said. Luckily, he added, the speed of price increases seems to be cooling off.

With these questions still at top of mind for many Minnesotans, we decided to go shopping at eight Twin Cities grocery store chains to see what prices are looking like on local shelves. That included a combo of Minnesota-based companies and budget favorites to see which stores can help you get the most bang for your buck.

The method

We shopped for the same things at all eight stores. The list was boiled down to 15 essentials representing each food group: proteins, dairy, fruits, veggies and grains. We included family favorites that make life easier, too. The goal, though, was a list of true staples of a balanced diet. Sorry, no local coffee beans or boutique ice cream here.

A note: We sought to buy name brands as available, to help compare the shopping experience between stores. However, budget stores Aldi and Trader Joe's tend to differ from their competitors because they sell their own brands nearly exclusively. It's one way they keep prices so low. Some of the other stores on this list do offer their own value brands, so seeking those out when available could be one way to lower some of the total prices listed below. Grocery shopping took place over the course of a couple of weeks, so prices may have shifted at some stores.

The List

  • a dozen eggs
  • gallon of 2% milk
  • whole wheat bread
  • chicken thighs
  • box of spaghetti
  • black beans
  • 3lb bag of Cuties tangerines (or oranges in a pinch)
  • bananas (4)
  • head of broccoli
  • head of lettuce
  • chicken noodle soup
  • Jif peanut butter
  • Honey Nut Cheerios (family or large size)
  • ground beef
  • 'bar' style frozen pepperoni pizza (Heggies or Lotzza Motzza)

The stores

8. Kowalski's

You are likely to spend the most if you shop at this local chain. Here, ground beef could cost nearly $10 a pound. On the bright side, they had one of the best prices in the cities for name-brand whole wheat breads.

Total: $77.09

7. HyVee

Prices at the employee-owned, Iowa-founded chain — which expanded into the Twin Cities about a decade ago — dropped the overall tab into the sixties, but still left it on the high end overall. One item that made the biggest difference was a sale on frozen pizzas.

Total: $68.21

6. Lunds & Byerlys

Pizza night! The price of a frozen pie during one of the local grocer's famed pizza sales — a full $5 off at the time of publish — changed its standing on this affordability list. One bit of sticker shock we saw on the shelves — Cheerios for nearly $8.

Total: $64.28

5. Cub

Here's where just a few quarters can change store budget rankings. The Minnesota-based chain featured one of the best prices for a family-size box of Cheerios — $6.99.

Total: $61.75

4. Target

Minnesota-founded Target beat Cub by less than a dollar. Many items at Target, including 2% milk and eggs, were priced nearly identically to those at Cub. But beware the pull of the dollar section items, which add up quickly.

Total: $60.69

3. Walmart

Some of the best buys at the national chain were proteins and name-brand items like Progresso soup. Long known for its affordability, you'll spend nearly $30 less shopping at Walmart compared to other stores. But there are just a handful left around the Twin Cities: Walmart closed stores in St. Paul and Brooklyn Center in recent years.

Total: $50.21

2. Trader Joe's

Dear reader, we were stunned to discover it is possible to get something for less than a dollar in 2024. But at Trader Joe's, a pack of spaghetti, a can of black beans and a handful of bananas will all cost you less than a dollar each. Maybe you'll even luck out and snag a mini-tote return.

Total: $39.73

1. Aldi

Drum roll please! The European budget grocery store with locations around the Twin Cities came out on top, beating out Trader Joe's by less than a quarter. Aldi had the most items for less than a dollar, including a head of lettuce, a can of black beans and a pound of bananas. Just don't forget a quarter for your cart!

Total: $39.51