How I started using a grocery price book….
A few years ago I started reading a blog that posted grocery store coupon match-ups. After reading for several weeks I got my list together, clipped my coupons, and headed to the store to stock up on all sorts of free products.
However, when I arrived at the store nothing was free, or even close to free. In fact only one of the six deals I was trying to buy at the store was even a good deal compared to what I usually paid at the commissary. I was so disappointed!
The problem, the blog I was reading used prices from the midwest and I was shopping in the DC suburbs. The difference was amazing. I’m sure if this is true for me, then it is probably true for many of my readers as well. How do you know if a good deal you see on a blog, in a newspaper, or in a store flyer is really a good deal?
Back in my twenties I was able to remember the price of just about everything. However today is a different story. If I don’t write it down I can’t remember it five minutes later, let alone a week later!
A grocery price book tracks the price of the things I purchase regularly at the stores where I shop. If you haven’t created one yet, I highly recommend it.
How to Create a Grocery Price Book
Create a grocery price book with a lined notebook or spreadsheet. I create pages based on stores because I only shop at a few places. If you shop at multiple stores, it could be better to create pages based on grocery items.
I have six columns on each page: date, item, brand, prize, size, and unit price.
Date: When did you purchase the grocery item. Prices and sales fluctuate by season so date is important.
Item: What are you comparing? Seems obvious, but if you are shopping with kids, it’s important to write everything down. 🙂
Brand: At my local grocery store there are at least five brands of spaghetti sauce. Over time you will see which brands are consistently on sale or always priced lower.
Size: Where I live $2.50 is a great price for a 16 oz box of cereal. However it’s not a good deal if the box of cereal is 9 oz.
Unit price: You can find this on the shelf tag in incredibly small print. This tells you exactly how much you are paying per ounce or pound for an item. This allows you to compare to real price of different sized items.
It’s important to track price and unit price because unit price allows you to compare multiple sizes of the same product and find out which brand or which store is cheaper.
When you shop, fill in the price book with the information. I recommend tracking only the items you buy regularly at first. Most people purchase the same 15-20 items every week, so start with those and then expand your price book as time allows.
How to Use a Grocery Price Book
Using a grocery price book is a great way to track the best prices for your area! A few weeks ago the price of milk varied by $2 at stores in my area. The stores where only three miles apart! Since the price of groceries varies so much based on location a price book is the best way to determine when to stock up.
For example, if the price of tuna never goes below $1.00 a can at your store, then you know to stock up when it goes on sale for $0.75 a can at Amazon.com. If you can find tuna for $0.60 a can, you should pass up the deal on Amazon.
A price book works because you keep track of your best prices, not the prices of people who live 1,000 or even 100 miles away from you. Use the grocery price book with the grocery store coupon match-ups to find the best deal for you!
By using a price book, you determine the best price and when to stock up. Do you have a grocery price book? Has it saved you money on groceries?
I would love it if you could do a post expanding on this idea. Like how to make the book, and what you put in it, and all that. I have never heard of this idea and think it’s great, but have no idea where to even start!
I would like to create a price book…..it just seems like a very daunting task. I think I would actually pay someone to do it for me lol! 🙂
I was just telling my husband last night that our Grocery Gadget app on his iPhone and my Android would digitally do this for us. It’s a got a great ‘scan barcode’ feature. Great tips, thanks!
I agree! I have a price list for Aldi because it is the main place I shop. It’s really helpful for me to see if the ads and/or coupons from other stores are worth a trip to an additional store! 🙂
Barefeet In The Kitchen says
Knowing the stock up prices for your household staples is the only surefire way I’ve seen to stay within budget. This is great advice.
I’ve done a price book in the past but I haven’t actively kept up with it for a long time. I can remember the prices of every item that I buy within a few cents of the actual price paid at the three stores I shop at, so I don’t bother spending my time on a price book any more. It does save me money though knowing the prices so I know when to stock up and when to only buy what we absolutely need. I’ve always been able to recall numbers fairly easily though, heck I remember every address and phone number I’ve had since I moved to the US when I was almost 3.
I copy and paste all the sales prices for the commissary into a spreadsheet that I use to see if the stores have a good price. I also compare prices to Costco because I really do like Costco:)
Great idea! Just one question- How do you do it? Do you carry a notebook to the store and write down prices or do you make it at home off your receipts? Is there an app for that? I’ve recently tried to start one just in the “notes” section of my meal planning/grocery list app but I accidentally deleted all my milk info when I tried to add the newest price! Clearly I could use some help in how best to keep a price book!!
Great idea Kathryn. I’ll definitely add that to my post list.
Geri's Super Saving Tips says
I love my price book and don’t know what I would do without it. It has saved me so much time and money. I keep my price book in the front of my coupon binder, that way I always have it when I am shopping.
Ditto to what Kathryn said. I am very interested in learning more about this, but have NO CLUE how to get started! I would love to know more abou it.
Jenn M. says
what app do you use?
I was going to ask the same thing. I’ve heard about them and would like to make one.
This is a great idea, every penny counts nowadays, especially for a family of 7!
Thanks for the help.
I recently started looking at your website and I love it. I agree with the other ladies about the price book.
Grocery IQ. It’s free on both the iPhone and Android Market. Good LUCK!
Darci Dembroski says
My Mom and I did this together… We used an Excel spreadsheet and wrote down all of the regular items that we purchase. Then in three columns we wrote the names of the three grocery stores we frequent. We spent some extra time writing down how much each of those items cost at each of the three stores so we’d know where we were getting the best deal. I then created a grocery list for myself for each of the three stores. The only warning I would give is… you must update this every few months because the prices do change at stores regularly. A bonus around us: Wegmans Supermarkets have lots of items that they’ve guaranteed a price on all through 2011 so we know those won’t change! I love that idea.
I’ve heard of doing one of these for years but have never taken the time to do so. I keep numbers in my head pretty well but I know that I don’t always get the absolute best deal. I depend on the Grocery Game for a lot of my shopping bargains due to lack of time, and I never spend more than 50c a roll on TP, but for all the myriads of other items I buy… a notebook may be the best thing to start.
I just did this! I started with my Costco latest receipt and just keep adding to it. I did this mostly because I was curious if buying this on amazon.com was cheaper than Costco. It turns out that it isn’t usually. It was also useful to compare Costco prices to coupon deals. I should mention that I live in Alaska. We have significantly fewer coupons and stores available to us here so it’s especially important to be aware of how much you are paying for things. Fortunately, I purchase most of my groceries at Costco (which is usually the best deal anyway), so starting to compile my list was easy!
Can I just say that I JUST started reading your blog and I’m so impressed and thrilled with your ideas and pictures and concepts. THANKS! I can’t wait to see how to create a price book. I live in the Northeast and the cost of groceries is outrageous.
I loved the tip, it’s a great money-saver to know where we can find the best prices; it seams doesn’t seam a great deal at the beginning, but when we sum it all up in the end of the month, the difference is quite substantial.
I just found the site, and I’m loving it!
If you don’t mind the suggestion, I think a monthly budget plan would be a great addition to this topic
I just started this, thanks to your post! I bought a 3 ring binder and normal college ruled paper. I am going to organize product by thing rather than brand name. Ex: Peanut Butter and then put the prices based on my receipt. On that same piece of paper I will put the brand name and the price so I can tell if the product is on sale, I can compare to generic brand and see if it is cheaper. I have also left room on the page to add when the items go on sale and at what price. It will take a while but my memory is HORRIBLE and this will be a start to helping me remember!!
I love your website! 🙂