I’m a mom of three boys who go through a gallon of whole milk each week. At an estimated $4 per gallon, that means I’m spending more than $200 on milk alone each year. That’s a lot of money!
In February 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that the average price for a gallon of conventional whole milk in the U.S. was $4.38. The price is tracked each month, and it has continued to fall since late 2022. That’s great news for my overall grocery bill.
But recently, as I stood in front of the dairy section at Trader Joe’s—where I go at least twice a week—I wondered if I was paying the cheapest price for milk. I thought, should I drive over to Costco or ALDI to check their prices? Does Kroger actually have a better deal? I set off to find out.
Where To Buy the Cheapest Whole Milk
I visited five grocery stores where I live in Central Virginia, all within a 5-minute drive of each other, and noted the price of one gallon of conventional whole milk at each store on March 10. The price of milk fluctuates often and also varies by state and city, so the prices I discovered may not be what you see at your store.
Here are my findings. The price for a gallon of private-label conventional whole milk at:
- Trader Joe’s: $3.59/gallon
- ALDI: $3.03/gallon
- Whole Foods: $4.59/gallon
- Costco: $3.72/gallon
- Kroger: $3.39/gallon
The most expensive option is Whole Foods ($4.59/gallon), which has a reputation for having higher prices, so this finding was not surprising. The cheapest milk can be found at ALDI ($3.03/gallon), which is $1.56 or 51 percent cheaper than Whole Foods. That’s over $81 savings if you were to buy your milk at ALDI instead of Whole Foods every week for a year. Compared to the second cheapest option at Kroger ($3.39/gallon), ALDI’s prices are 36 cents or 11 percent cheaper—you’d save $19 per year.
The prices aren’t that different between the two stores I typically buy milk from—Trader Joe’s ($3.59/gallon) and Costco ($3.72/gallon). That’s good news for me because it means I haven’t been overpaying for milk. Will I buy milk at ALDI or Kroger going forward? Not likely. I don’t often shop at these stores so it would require an extra trip (time is precious for this working mom of three!) to save about $30 per year.
What About Organic Whole Milk?
Our family shifted from organic to conventional milk a couple of years ago when I realized we were spending nearly $600 a year on organic. I also stopped drinking dairy milk for health reasons and now reach for almond milk instead.
This buying habit aligns with market and price trends. According to the USDA, sales of organic milk have gone down about 5 percent year over year. This is partially due to higher prices—the average price for a half gallon of organic whole milk in February 2023 was a whopping $4.81—and there has been a shift towards plant-based beverages, like oat, almond, and soy milk, so fewer people are buying dairy milk.
Here are the prices for private-label organic whole milk at each store on March 10:
- Trader Joe’s: $6.99/gallon
- ALDI: organic milk not available
- Whole Foods: $6.99/gallon
- Costco: $10.89/1.5 gallons ($7.26/gallon)
- Kroger: $3.99/half gallon ($7.98/gallon)
My local ALDI does not stock organic whole milk, where I was expecting to find the cheapest price. ALDI does carry organic milk under its private label, SimplyNature, but a store manager told me they don’t carry it because it doesn’t sell. I called an ALDI in Lawrence, Kansas that carries organic whole milk, and was told the price is $5.15/half gallon ($10.30/gallon). That’s so expensive—even more than the most affordable options I found at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods at $.6.99/gallon.