HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Cheap groceries? Moving to Brookline area,,..from out of state

  • f

So - will have a car - so can move around easily to find good grocery prices.

Will actually be working slightly south of Brookline.

Not familiar with the chains here - Shop Rite near where I live now always had the best prices during sales ("can-can")


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hi, and welcome! You should check out Market Basket in Somerville. If you're a weekly shopper, it will be worth your while to make the trip. I don't know where you're coming from, but be prepared for the cost of living to be higher here.

    1. The cheapest prices are at Market Basket. The closest locations to Brookline are Somerville and Chelsea, and both are usually super-crowded unless you go at off-hours (I like to go after 8pm), and are probably a pain to drive to from Brookline. The Somerville location also tends to run out of things from time to time (skim milk, lobsters, isolated produce items like ginger or loose mushrooms). If you go to the Somerville one, you can combine the trip with a stop at Reliable Market, an Asian market with a heavy focus on Korean and Japanese products and very good prices. Other worthwhile stops in the area might include McKinnon's (meat, Davis Sq), either New Deal or Courthouse fish markets, or Mayflower Poultry (all on Cambridge St in Cambridge).

      I've recently been adding a stop at Whole Foods to my grocery shopping routing and I've been pleasantly surprised with the prices for many items, especially the conventionally-grown produce, house-brand items, and bulk items.

      I find Shaw's and Foodmaster to be painfully overpriced, at least compared to Market Basket (and often higher than WF too), unless an item is on sale. Shaw's also irks me by being the type of store that seems to focus on things like pre-packaged scallions, bagged salad mixes, and salt-injected pork at the expense of good, inexpensive produce and meat.

      If you're in the area, a stop a Russo's in Watertown for produce is a good idea. Good prices, excellent selection. It's a fabulous store.

      I'm sure people will chime in with more Brookline-centric suggestions.

      New Deal Fish Market
      622 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

      Courthouse Fish Market
      484 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

      McKinnon's Meat Market
      239 Elm St, Somerville, MA

      Mayflower Poultry Company
      621 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA

      Reliable Meat Market
      45 Union Sq, Somerville, MA

      Market Basket
      400 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA

      Market Basket
      170 Everett Ave, Chelsea, MA

      1 Reply
      1. re: emannths

        Market Basket Somerville was the bomb when I lived there years ago. Best prices on lobster and steamers. Great vegetable selection. Best prices all around. Decent meats. Closer to Brookline there should be some large Asian supermarkets in Alston.

      2. There's not much cheap in Brookline.

        South of Brookline being .... Where?

        5 Replies
          1. re: few

            Norwood is way south of West Roxbury, not to mention Brookline! There are lots of the giant stores down there such as Walmart, and in Dedham there is Whole Foods, Costco, BJ's, Ocean State and a giant Stop and Shop and a Shaws. In Westwood there is Roche Bros.which has great loss leader sales but generally is higher than the Stop and Shop, I can;t imagine why anyone would be willing to slog through the traffic to shop at Market Basket unless they were shopping for a months worth of food. The gas would be a cost factor for a trip that far.

            1. re: Berheenia

              It started out with suggesting Market Basket before the OP said they were working in Norwood. Your suggestions certainly make more sense. I didn't know Ocean State sold food.

              1. re: CookieLee

                My OSJL's food section looks like it might have fallen from the truck. A lot of odd brands..

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Agree but the OP asked for 'cheap groceries' and OSJL food is DIRT cheap.

        1. Trader Joe's in Brookline has some good values if you want to stay local.

          4 Replies
          1. re: suzysue2

            Yes, the Trader Joes in Coolidge Corner is great for certain things, like cheap wine.

            1. re: Kinopio

              Depends on how you shop and what you shop for. The Russian stores, particularly Bazaar, are great for all kinds of first quality meats, jams, honey, pickles, and some excellent produce. Russos is in Watertown and is great for most fruits, vegetables, cheeses, Clear Flour and Japonaise are in Brookline and where you go for bread, Trader Joes is fine for a lot of basics, including wine, tea, juice, but has lousy produce generally, Armenian stores in Watertown particularly Arax have great produce, spices, etc. See Emannths list above for the best in seafood (New Deal), chicken, eggs and other poultry (Mayflower), super 88 for all things Asian (Brighton). If you are looking for a single supermarket to shop in, Market Basket is the closest until the proposed new Wegman's opens in Newton, or you might try a membership at Costco in Waltham.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                We love New Deal and will only buy seafood here. However, it is anything BUT cheap.

                1. re: teezeetoo

                  IMO, Costco doesn't fit the bill as a "single supermarket" unless your buying habits are extremely limited (there are too many things they don't carry, or only carry in unreasonable quantities). Also, Market Basket has similar prices on many food items, though Costco's items are sometimes higher quality. Costco has its merits (I'm still a member), but for grocery shopping you're probably better off just going to MB.

                  I agree with Small Plates that New Deal is not cheap. It's one of those places that offers only the best quality items and (rightfully) charges more than supermarket prices. I've seen higher prices than New Deal though, and they certainly don't take the price-is-no-object attitude that some specialty/high-end places do. Same with Mayflower--you're getting stuff that's probably higher quality than Market Basket, and you pay a reasonable premium for it. I think Mayflower chickens are something like $1.60-$2.70/lb, depending on their origin and organic pedigree, whereas MB's Perdue chickens are $0.90/lb.

            2. you may also want to go to the farmer's markets which open in June and go through Thanksgiving; they are scattered throughout the Boston metropolitan area though they are not necessarily cheap.

              wf is most expensive when you buy their food that is prepared in the store; most of the regular items are not that far out of line.

              But, of course, why buy fish there if you can make it to New Deal/Courthouse?

              Formagio's also has excellent cheese, but again they are expensive.

              1. In addition to putting in a plug for Russo's and the local farmer's market, I'd also checking out Cyndi, who sells great fresh fish at the farmer's market during the summer and fall and then goes indoors and sells out of When Pigs Fly bakery during the winter months.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tartandfit

                  Yes I was just thinking of Cyndi the Fishlady and she's in Brookline every Tuesday in the winter (you order from her on-line in advance). Good seafood isn't cheap. For the least expensive the market at Super 88 in Brighton with it's live tank is the best option for decent quality. But, as I noted above, a lot depends on how you like to shop. If you are looking for a single-market source for everything, Market Basket is probably the best option, with Trader Joe's not bad for local shopping. Whole Foods is fine for their specials but not, in my opinion, worth the price for anything not on sale. Shaw's and Stop 'n Shop and Johnny's make up the rest and they are not very good.

                2. I echo most of what's been said here. We focus on cheap also, and find Market Basket in Chelsea to be among the best options. But, if you go when there's traffic, it will take twice as long. We go late at night, early morning.

                  Russo's: I like better than MB, much better, and prices are great also. I shop there right when they open on Sundays - traffic, again, is the issue. This is my favorite store in the area. This store is very heavy on produce, with a small meat selection, a sizable cheese selection, bakery, homemade pasta, deli, some prepared foods. You won't find many canned goods here, though, if that's what you are looking for.

                  Russian Bazaar: We enjoy this store. Interesting items for a fair price. When we don't feel like cooking, we like to stop by and pick up some prepared foods also - great deal.

                  Locally, Trader Joe's is where we stop to stock up on things we run out of - milk, eggs, etc.

                  The other local chains, Shaws and Stop N Shop, are on a need-to-buy basis only. They make me sad.

                  As for the Brookline farmer's market, it's fun to visit, and I long for all of the produce, but there is very little there that seems affordable to me. I generally skip it (though I got a dozen eggs there this fall that were wonderful, and not too pricey).

                  The cost of living here is high, but oddly enough, we did not find the cost of eating out much higher than when we lived in rural NY. The selection here is obviously much bigger, and there is a range of cheap eats that are much better while the same price as what we could get in and around our small NY town. We were shocked by how reasonable it seemed.


                  1. If you're willing to drive for bargains, you might want to check out Price Chopper. None of their locations are local to Brookline - the closest is probably in Shrewsbury, about an hour away. But they have these buy one get two free specials - my sis-in-law swears by them.

                    My next-door neighbor is a bargain hunter and he buys his produce at Rosebud Farms in Malden (where we live) and most of his other groceries at Sav-a-Lot (in Revere, but their website lists locations in Roxbury and Roslindale which are closer to Brookline).

                    1. Be patient, Wegman's is coming in 2013.

                      1. Roche brothers in w.rox (south of Brookline) is a very nice store and closer than Market Basket.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          Roche Bros. has a good fish counter but I find their prices kind of high in general except for specials.

                          I live within a short walk of Stop & Shop in Brookline - S&S #1, btw. Their produce department is fine. Shaw's and Star have worse produce. Don't know why. TJ's in CC has improved their produce since expanding the store. Their apples and pears have been dependably good lately, not mealy and true to the kind. They've had some terrific and huge butternut squash for the same price as the vendors at Haymarket.

                          Bazaar on Beacon and its big brother in Allston often have terrific produce specials. Especially berries and herbs.

                          Russo's is best for lettuce and some basics like peppers. They also sell my favorite smoked mozzarella, Calabro. Much of their produce is grown locally in season. You see their trucks at farms like Allandale. Russo's also has a good assortment of mushrooms, mostly at reasonable prices.

                          I go to Super 88 for things popular in Asian cooking. That kind of produce there is great and often very cheap. Mustard greens, many kinds of choy, etc. They seem unclear about many western vegetables and fruits and these often look sad.

                          1. re: lergnom

                            "You see their trucks at farms like Allandale." (Russo's...)
                            You see their trucks at Allandale because they _sell_ to Allandale, to supplement what Allandale grows, not the reverse...I love Russo's as much as the next guy, but just had to chime in here...

                            1. re: galleygirl

                              I love Russo's and they sell far more than basics...more like almost any kind of fruit and veg available and lots of unusual and exotic varieties as well as all kinds of dried and fresh pasta, bakery and breads, cheeses, deli, flowers, plants, seeds. However, they do not sell much local except local breads, eggs, some great local prepared foods. Even in high summer season, no local produce that I've ever seen.

                              1. re: Madrid

                                They do carry local produce, and label it as such (although I'm not sure exactly what they consider "local"). Right now (or at least as of last weekend) two varieties of their apples (cortlands and macs) are labeled local, and some of the butternut squash. In the spring/summer/fall I have seen strawberries, rhubarb, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, squash, carrots, parsnips labeled "local." So it's there, but you can't always depend on it being there. In other words I like to buy the local apples when I can and when they're good, but I wouldn't go there expecting the apples to be local.

                                1. re: stomachofsteel

                                  somebody must be cold storing those apples! I guess I don't go often enough to have seen local summer produce. Every time I have gone, I've looked but didn't see...so thanks for posting. I need to look closer! However, I do think Russo's is best known for exotic produce from around the world and I do appreciate that, and buy it. If you need specific chiles, mushrooms, citrus, tubers, Asian herbs and greens, fresh tumeric, meyer lemons, etc., they are almost always htere.

                                  1. re: Madrid

                                    Yes, last year their local apples lasted at least until Feburary I think, so they are definitely in storage somewhere. I agree that local produce is not exactly Russo's strength -- and I wish they carried more and were more forthcoming about exactly where it is coming from -- but I'm happy to see it there when they have it. Like many Russo's shoppers, I get local stuff from farmer's markets most of the time in the summer anyway.

                                    1. re: Madrid

                                      always have local apples, strawberries, tomatoes, and other local vegetables in season at russo's. The season is short and the farmer's markets are defiinitely needed to supplement, but we find local produce and eggs often here.

                                2. re: galleygirl

                                  Sorry, galleygirl, but Allandale sells to Russo's. They may trade, like they do with Verrill Farm - where the corn almost always comes from - and they may buy some things but they are a Russo's supplier. That is unless Jim lied to me, which I doubt.

                                  One of the good things about Russo's is they don't rely on the produce barns in Chelsea but have relationships with a number of farms. That is how they sell so much local lettuce, etc.

                                  1. re: lergnom

                                    They may indeed sell some things to Russo's,(altho I can't imagine Russo's having that in their profit plan) but they definitely buy some things too....

                                    1. re: galleygirl

                                      I have a friend who owned an apple orchard and she sold her entire crop to Russo's for years.


                                      1. re: BostonZest

                                        Penny, thanks for posting this. It give me even more incentive to email russo's and ask for more proactive local labels.

                                        1. re: Madrid

                                          That would be good, Madrid. They started labeling some of their corn this year, but almost all the other stuff has no label at all. Just says "local".

                            2. No one has mentioned Allandale Farm. Not cheap but support your only in-city working farm. Best apple cider around, Clear Flour bread, u-pick quality (but not price) berries in season, and bags of tomato seconds for $5 in late summer.

                              Also, while Brookline farmers market has nice variety, parking is a royal pain. If you are in South Brookline, Roslindale market on Saturday mornings may be more convenient.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: drb

                                Both the C line and the 66 bus make stops near the Brookline farmers market, or if you must drive, the parking garage under the Marriot is both inexpensive and always near empty.

                              2. This is turning into a great all-purpose thread on Boston food shopping. As others have said, we might be able to offer more specific help if you let us know what you usually shop for and where you are coming from/what you are used to.

                                Other threads on the Market Basket will explain that the stores are crowded and difficult to navigate because they re stock during store hours to save money. The turnover on the produce is very quick given the crowds so the value is really there. If you can handle the crowds, the experience is like a United Nations...lots and lots of people speaking lots of different languages. It can get annoying but frankly I find it less annoying than entitled people shopping in Cambridge and elsewhere.

                                1. Sorry, but Norwood is nowhere near Brookline. It may look like it on a map, but there's really no direct way to get there. I can't imagine you could get between the two within a 1/2 hr. I live in Westwood and make the 30-45 min trek to Russo's on occasion (yes, to me it's worth it). I'll also head to Burlington up 128 for the same amount of time and go to Market Basket and H Mart. I think Market Basket is great, I know others don't. I really wish they'd build one on Rt. 1 in Norwood - there's space near Sym's. Anyway, Wegman's was supposed to come to Westwood and they still have the land, but I don't know when that will happen. As for local to Norwood, there's a Shaw's (I despise that place though), Hannaford (not great), and there's a great Whole Foods in Dedham, but it's expensive. Good Luck and welcome to the area.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: swurvestar

                                    oddly enough - maybe the time of the commute....35min door to door.....gofigure