- Publix is the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the nation, with over 200,000 people working for the well-known supermarket.
- Though Publix is known for highly-rated items like its subway sandwiches and fresh-baked cookies, other items come at less of a bargain and are probably worth avoiding.
- According to shopping experts, it’s best to stay clear of the packaged iced oatmeal cookies and baby items like diapers that fall outside of the Publix Baby Club.
- Here are 18 things to buy on your next trip to the famous grocery store – and 15 to avoid at all costs.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ask anyone living in the Southeastern US what their favourite grocery store is and no doubt a good amount will say Publix.
Founded in 1930 in Central Florida, Publix is the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the nation, employing over 200,000 people.
Publix has locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, and North and South Carolina – but Florida has an especially profound attachment to the store, with about 800 stores in operation.
Publix fans could go on and on about the deals you can get at the grocery chain, but not everything at Publix is worth your money. Some products at the supermarket are either subpar or could simply be bought for a better price elsewhere.
Here are 18 products you should always buy at Publix, and 15 that you can totally skip over.
Buy: Publix sub sandwiches
Publix subs have a serious cult following, inspiring articles like this one by Thrillist that endlessly praise the sandwiches. You can find countless online reviews about the “Pub sub” as well, and even instructional videos on how to order them online.
Aside from the unique, fresh-baked sub bread, another plus is that Publix allows you to ask for any cheese from the deli for your sub. Other grocery stores might offer subs, but the “Pub Sub” is in a league of its own.
Skip: Frozen vegetables
Kroger rules on price point when it comes to frozen vegetables like broccoli and stir fry mix. Trader Joe’s and Publix are actually among the most expensive for these staple goods, so you might want to look elsewhere.
Buy: Publix fried chicken
Publix’s fried chicken is made fresh every day and is so popular, the chain sells over 57 million pounds at their delis each year. The fried chicken can be purchased hot or cold from the deli, and you can even order online.
The chicken even inspired comedian Kevin Fredericks to post a Publix fried chicken appreciation video to his Facebook page. We hear you, Kev.
Skip: Canned beans
According to a price comparison analysis by the site MyRecipes.com, Publix’s canned beans are among the priciest as compared to direct competitors. Skip these and pick them up at Aldi, instead.
Buy: Publix-brand pre-packaged bread
Many folks have sung the praises of Publix’s bakery for all the fresh-baked goodies found there. However, according to German Niño, a former employee at various Miami-based Publix locations for six years, another worthwhile item to pick up is their pre-packaged bread.
“I’d always get white and whole wheat bread, as they would have a good shelf life,” Niño told Business Insider.
They’re also generally less expensive than brands like Nature’s Own and Pepperidge Farm, while maintaining good quality.
Buy: Bakery cookies
Publix has been pulling the same hustle for decades. You wander over to the bakery, and if you’re a child – or shopping with a child – they will simply give you a bakery chocolate chip or sugar cookie for free. Why? Because you become a fan for life. As such, Publix fans swear by these cookies and grow up to buy them themselves.
Skip: Publix-brand iced oatmeal cookies
Unlike the delicious bakery cookies, these boxed cookies hail from the snack aisle and do not live up to the quality of their freshly made peers.
The iHeartPublix blog compared Publix’s and Archway’s iced oatmeal cookies for taste and size and found that the Archway variety were significantly larger and softer in comparison to the Publix kind.
Buy: Baby items for children up to 2 years old
Publix’s Baby Club can save you a ton if you sign up shortly after your baby is born. The store offers some generous coupons every month for a variety of baby items, including diapers and wipes.
That said, if your brands aren’t covered by their coupons or after your child is 2 or older, you’re better off shopping elsewhere.
Buy: Rotisserie chicken
Fried chicken isn’t the only kind of chicken adored by Publix fans. Many people also highly recommend the store’s rotisserie chicken, including the editors at Southern Living, who swear it will save your dinner in a flash.
Skip: Pre-made sushi, except on Wednesdays
Many Publix stores have sushi for sale, and while some also have sushi chefs on hand to prepare fresh sushi, most of the sushi available pre-made.
“It’s our opinion that they need a revamping, or maybe retraining of their staff on how to make rice and make sushi,” sushi chef and YouTuber Hiroyuki Terada said in a video. “The brown rice in their rolls were completely mushy,” he said, and “it was not enjoyable at all.”
If you live near an actual sushi restaurant, you might just want to eat there instead. Unless it’s a Wednesday, in which case it’s hard to beat the $US5 deal Publix offers (see below).
Buy: $US5 sushi on Wednesdays
A full sushi meal at a restaurant can get expensive. And while Publix sushi isn’t necessarily the finest quality, there’s definitely worse sushi out there.
If you’re curious to try Publix’s sushi offerings, you’d be wise to visit on a Wednesday, when packages of sushi are offered at a bargain price of $US5.
This important staple is likely priciest at your local Publix. However, you can use it as an excuse to head to Target, where it might run you nearly $US1 less per pound.
Buy: Publix-brand ice cream
Did you know that Publix actually has its own dairy processing plants? That helps the company maintain the quality of their dairy products, including everyone’s favourite ice cream.
According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Publix now has quart-sized ice cream in addition to the original half-gallon size, in flavours like strawberry, chocolate, and rotating limited edition flavours.
Skip: Shopping for different deals on back to back days
According to Jessica Probus of BuzzFeed, Publix’s sales cycle runs for about six to eight weeks, always ending on a Wednesday. That means that if you go shopping on a Tuesday, you’ll still find the same exact deals the following day. If you’re the type that loves shopping for deals, try going at the start of the week one week, and at the end of the week on a different week to maximise your savings.
Buy: Anything with a competitor’s coupon
Publix has generous coupon policies. The supermarket will not only honour its own coupons – many of which are now available online or via app – but also manufacturers’ coupons and competitors’ coupons.
Some locations will even allow you to double up on coupons, allowing your savings to multiply.
Skip: Buying anything in bulk
If you have a large family or hefty amounts of storage space, bulk shopping might be for you. In that case, there are many other stores that will better serve your bulk buying needs than Publix.
Buy: Thanksgiving dinner
According to the Penny Hoarder, if you’re looking to buy a pre-made Thanksgiving Dinner, Publix is where you want to get it. As of last year, the Publix Deli large turkey dinner is $US89.99 and includes a 16-to-18-pound fully-cooked turkey, five pounds of dressing, five pounds of mashed potatoes, 64 ounces of gravy, 56 ounces of marshmallow delight, and 32 ounces of cranberry orange relish.
Estimated to feed 14 to 18 people, this meal comes out to $US4 to $US6 per person.
Skip: Last-minute holiday dinner ingredients
That said, Niño, the former Publix employee, advises that people generally skip doing their last-minute Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner shopping due to overcrowding and low supplies.
“You can barely walk through the aisles and shelves will be cleared,” Niño told Business Insider. “Go at least three or four days before to be safe as it takes time for a new shipment to arrive. If cornbread mixes are gone two days before Christmas, it’s too late.”
Buy: Buffalo chicken dip
Kyle Smith and Melissa Jay of the food blog Allons-Eat even deem it the “best buffalo dip ever,” and they created their own recipe inspired by the dip.
Skip: Anything not on sale
Personal spending blogger Janell Poulette advises holding off on items that aren’t on sale altogether.
“If something isn’t on sale, it is probably more expensive than getting it at another store. I like to plan my shopping trips around the sales,” she told Business Insider.
Buy: Fruit salad
When you spend time in the produce department at Publix, you might happen upon a number of pre-packaged, fresh-cut fruit like watermelon, cantaloupe, and grapes. Niño said that he highly recommends buying produce at Publix.
“Honorable mention goes to their fruit salads. No other store compares or stays as fresh,” he said.
Additionally, if your Publix is out of sliced fruit salad, you can usually ask a produce employee if they could make a fresh container for you.
Skip: Diaper brands not covered by Baby Club coupons
As any parent knows, diapers come with a hefty price tag. And while Publix does occasionally have deals on diapers, they can be fairly costly most of the year.
This amount only increases if you happen to be buying diapers for more than one baby.Lydia Beiler at Parents.com suggests using Amazon Mum to get truly deep discounts on diaper purchases.
Buy: Sustainable seafood
Many swear by Publix’s fresh seafood. The grocer has stepped up its game by recently collaborating with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative to continue its commitment to sustainability.
Publix has become the focus of a human-rights campaign by the Coalition for Immokalee Workers, whose Fair Food Program fights the exploitation of Florida tomato farmworkers.
Since 2009, Publix has declined to sign on to the program, maintaining that the relationship between farmworkers and farm owners is a labour dispute.
“We will not pay employees of other companies directly for their labour,” a page on Publix’s corporate site says. “That is the responsibility of their employer, and we believe all parties would be better served if appropriate wages were paid by growers to their workers, and we were charged accordingly.
If the issue is important to you, then consider skipping the tomatoes next time you’re in the Publix produce section.
Buy: Any item you’re unsure of buying
Sometimes you’re at a store and you think you want to buy an item but are worried it will taste awful, or that you’ll change your mind, or that maybe you already have it at home.
If that describes you, you’ll be happy to know that Publix is one of the easier grocers when it comes to returns. According to Kiplinger.com, the store will even accept items you’ve opened or used if you’re not satisfied with them.
Skip: Things that aren’t buy-one-get-one
According to Southern Living, deal-conscious shoppers should avoid buying most things that are not buy-one-get-one.
“Just wait, because it probably will be soon,” the publication wrote.
Buy: Pet items — if you’re in the Publix Paws Club
Yes, that’s right.Publix has a special Publix Paws club where humans can sign up to get discounts for all the goodies they buy their furry friends. Some items may or may not be more expensive in other stores, but just wait for those monthly coupons from your club and then do your shopping.
Skip: Name-brand items
While Publix is usually great with sales, you might end up spending extra if you’re buying certain pricier brands. Writers at Southern Living agree that Publix brand items are generally just as good as non-generic brands. So next time, skip the Cheerios and Coca-Cola and go with Publix’s versions of your favourite items.
Buy: Bulk liquor
While Publix Supermarkets generally sell wine and beer inside the grocery aisles, they often also have an adjacent Publix Liquor Store where you can purchase the same – plus spirits and mixers.
According to Kiplinger.com, you can even get a 10% discount if you buy eight or more bottles – which isn’t huge, but any savings are good if you’re having to stock up on that much alcohol.
Skip: Dried pasta
A price comparison by MyRecipes also stated that Publix’s dried pastas were priciest overall. Once again, these were found to be least expensive at Aldi.
Buy: Coconut oil
In another cost comparison from the Penny Hoarder, it turns out that you get the best bang for your buck on coconut oil at Publix. A whopping 29 ounces for $US5.99 sure beats Trader Joe’s 16 ounces for the same cost.
Skip: Chicken breast
Yes, people love the taste of Publix chicken products, but that doesn’t mean you should buy all of them.
For example, in a cost comparison between Publix and Kroger, Publix’s boneless chicken breast was $US2.49 per pound even with a buy-one-get-one discount, whereas Kroger’s was $US1.99 per pound.
Buy: Treats from the mini Cuban cafe in Miami Publix locations
Many Publix locations in Miami – and some even as far as Broward – have a small cafe area that sells Cuban and other Latin American delights like croquettas, pastelitos, empanadas, pan de bono, and more. Some even have a Cuban coffee setup.
Miamians are spoiled thanks to the numerous Cuban cafeterias on every corner, but Publix’s small cafeteria can certainly hold its own. It even inspired one local alt-weekly to write a song about the cafe’s workers. If you’re just visiting and don’t have time to hit up a proper Cuban cafeteria, it’s definitely worth it.