Creating and using a price book to save money - %%sitetitle%%

Creating and using a price book to save money

Last week I mentioned in my Menu Plan Monday post that I was going to start using a price book again. Some of you asked for more information on this.

Although I feel I’m probably not the best person to give advice on this topic due to the simplicity of my system I’ll give it a try. Mainly I want to be able to recognize when something is a good price at the grocery store in order to maximize my food budget. I want to be able to look at the flyers, reference my price book and instantly know whether or not something is a good deal. I don’t bother tracking prices per store since I live in a very small town with only two grocery stores that are only a minute apart from each other. Therefore it really isn’t a big deal for me to shop at either store for the best deal. Those living in bigger centers may find it helpful to include this step however.

Here’s how I do it. In my notebook I label different pages with the various meats and products I want to track and then I break it down further from there. Tracking meat prices is a necessity for me because I can never quite keep all the various types and cuts of meat straight. For instance my first page is for chicken and looks like this (and don’t be shocked by the prices, I live at the end of nowhere don’t forget):

Chicken

Chicken Breasts (boneless/skinless)
$4.99/lb $11.00/kg

Chicken Breasts (with skin and bone)
$3.59/lb $7.91/kg

Chicken Fryers
$1.98/lb $4.37/kg

Chicken Drumsticks (with skin)
$2.19/lb $4.83/kg

Chicken Thighs (with skin)
$2.29/lb $5.05/kg

I have more listed but you get the idea. Each week as I look through the flyers and see a price lower than what I already have listed in my price book, I know not only to go stock up on that item but also to erase the old price and enter in the new lower amount. This allows me to consistently have a record of what is the best possible price for any particular item. With other products I do also include the unit price (size divided by price) in order to accurately assess a good price when dealing with different product sizes. Often what I think is a good deal at first glance turns out not to be so when I compare prices to my price book.

Maintaining a price book really is a fantastic strategy for reducing your grocery spending and I highly recommend it as a tool for taking control of your food budget.

For more information and ideas please visit these great blog posts:

The Price Book at The Family Ceo ~ Part 1 and Part 2

Price Books 101 at Mom Advice

Make a Price Book at organizedhome.com

Use a price book to slash your food spending at Get Rich Slowly

Comments

40 Responses to “Creating and using a price book to save money”
  1. 1
    Vanessa says:

    You say don’t get shocked by the price of your chicken but I am. That is cheap! I wish chicken for us was cheaper, I would love to eat more of it but it is getting very pricey here in Georgia.

  2. 2

    Hey Laura,
    I can’t believe how CHEAP your chicken is. Here in Montreal we’re usually paying around $15-$17/kg for boneless, skinless breasts. MAYBE 3-4 times/year we get a deal at $11/kg but not very often.

    I also used a price book and organized it in the order I walked around the store. Low and behold, 2 months later the store re-organized “to better serve the customer”. The end result was I had difficulty finding things in the store but I DID notice that they had jacked the prices on everything (maybe thinking if it was in a different order I wouldn’t notice???) – Nice try marketing department.

  3. 3
    Christi says:

    Wow! I am amazed at how much you guys pay for chicken. In Georgia where I live (Used to be close to Atlanta, now a smaller town) we pay maybe 2.99 a pound for boneless breasts. Today I only paid $1.99. My mom got on the bone chicken for $1.59 a lb! Maybe I should count my blessings. :-)

  4. 4
    Courtney says:

    wow I need to do this, just not sure I have time to do it all. i feel overwhelmed with so many things but saving money moves up the list.

  5. 5
    momrn2 says:

    Just curious… how much time do you estimate it takes you each week to maintain this??

  6. 6

    Thanks for the mention. I like your simple system. I think simple is usually best.

  7. 7
    Laura says:

    I would say it takes me about 10 minutes each Sunday night on just the price book but I do it at the same time as I sit down to do my menu planning and grocery list on Sunday night. Menu planning takes about 1/2 hour, so about 40 minutes all together each week.

  8. 8
    Lara T. says:

    I always liked the idea of a price book, but since I shop at different stores each week it was hard to find a good order to organize the book. I use a lot of coupons when I shop and try to buy only items on my list so I have a excel document with the price info. Its sorted by categories and has four columns. 1)Categories such as baby items, cleaning, canned goods, ect. 2)Specific item (ie. diapers, canned corn, etc). 3)A list of good price to pay (after coupons). 4)A column for the best price I’ve gotten in for. There is a 5th optional column that lets me put notes about the best stores, brands, and seasons to purchase certain items.

  9. 9
    Martine says:

    Thank you for posting prices! My prices are a little cheaper than yours in Ottawa. Is all of Canada this expensive?

  10. 10
    April says:

    This is a great I idea I will have to use it!Thanks

  11. 11

    I dug out my price book list from about 6 years ago–depressing! Food has gone up so much! It was very helpful in getting started. Now, I have it memorized where to buy the cheapest thing. We buy most things in bulk, but sometimes a local store has great sales for the week. Chicken through Sams club in Illinois was $2.20/ a pound for the frozen skinless boneless when you buy 10 pounds, which I usually do! If I can get it under $3.00/ a pound, I’m happy. You don’t have to do a lot of in store calculating if you shop at Walmart, they also have the price per ounce/ pound listed in the left hand corner of the advertisement.

  12. 12
    Forgetfulone says:

    These are great ideas, and I plan to visit your links, too! I mentioned you on my blog again today!

  13. 13

    This really is a great idea. So often, I see my grocery store’s “great price” and wonder if it’s really a deal or not.

  14. 14
    Damsel says:

    I’ve been meaning to do the same thing, but haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve read in other posts, though, that it’s also a good idea to write down the date that the price is at its lowest. Supposedly, stores have sales in cycles, and you can learn what those cycles are. So, if you’re getting low on a necessity, you could look at your price book and know that that item is going to be at its best price ever in a couple of weeks. Then you could hold off buying it for that long (maybe).

  15. 15
    FW says:

    I need to do this step. I didn’t think it was necessary at first because I really only have one store option, but this would really help me keep track of the sale cycle and when’s a good time to stock up. Thanks for the reminder!

  16. 16
    Lora says:

    I may need to start doing this–what with food prices going up like they are! This could be very helpful.

  17. 17

    Sounds like a wonderful tool in this war against prices! I would like to be able to keep up with past prices also, so I can compare, where we are today and where we were then…but don’t want a lot of paperwork – any ideas?

  18. 18
    AllyJo says:

    I’ve been thinking I would do this for 18 years. Thanks for the post.

  19. 19
    Karin says:

    I am constantly toying with the idea of keeping a price book…but can never seem to get it off the ground.

    This month, with your inspiration and simple system, coupled with $0.05 1 subject notebooks at Walmart, I might just have to give it another go.

    Thanks!

  20. 20
    Sweetpeas says:

    I keep mine in excel & then print it out & put it in a “report cover” add notes to it till it starts annoying me, then add the handwritten notes to the excel file & re-print.

    I also will note sale prices as well as regular prices, so I know which store to go to if I need it now, but also that if I wait, I can probably find it on sale for $x.

    And yes, w/ time I got to the point of not really needing it most of the time because I just knew that dry beans were cheapest at this store and cheese was cheapest over there (incidentally, it also helped me figure out that making my own butter (which is super easy w/ a blender or food processor) out of hormone free, raw cream is cheaper than buying the cheapest conventional butter. Gotta love healthier AND cheaper (and tastier, yum).

  21. 21
    Rachel says:

    This is great! I’ve done something similar, but mine is only on an Excel spreadsheet. I need to get it organized, printed, and into a notebook.

    Oh, and I WISH we had your chicken prices. :)

  22. 22
    Debby says:

    wow! i know you said not to be shocked about the prices, but i can’t help it!! and to read other comments about even higher prices!! yikes! i just bought boneless skinless yesterday for $1.89/lb which was good for here, but usual sale prices are only $1.99. i’m sorry it’s so expensive where you are!! is everything more expensive? what about beef? i also found ground 80% for $1.59/lb! maybe we all need to chip in and send you some $ for groceries! =)

  23. 23
    LouAnne says:

    I haven’t kept a price book in years, but it’s definitely a good idea to start again. My old price book is SO outdated.

    Chicken must be a hot commodity in some places?! I just paid 1.00/lb for boneless skinless, hormone and a/b free fillets and tenderloins. I stocked the freezer as tight as it would go. Usually I pay around 2.33/lb, so it was a bargain for sure. Don’t expect to see that again anytime soon! Whole birds are generally .63/lb to .99/lb.

  24. 24
    Christi says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! My family is going through a rough time financially right now (like everyone else) and I’m so used to going to the store and just buying whatever I want/need but now I’ve got to start getting serious and am starting to have a grocery budget that must be stuck to so I think this would be a fantastic idea for me to do.

  25. 25
    Laura says:

    Let’s see, here are some beef prices for my area:

    Regular ground beef
    $1.49/lb $3.29/kg

    Extra lean ground beef
    $2.99/lb $6.59/kg

    It’s interesting to see the various prices in different locations.

  26. 26

    For those of you with Palms, PDAs, or similar handheld devices, you might check out the free software HandyShopper. I first heard about it years ago and was reminded of it by Scribbit (she did a nice review of it on her blog). You can download it at cnet (http://www.download.com/HandyShopper/3000-2360_4-10021512.html). It’s not a price book, but you can manipulate it to be one. For example, I can add notes for each item I purchase that includes price history info, or just add my item multiple times to track the different prices (such as entering Publix – Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts as well as Great Value – Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, etc.). Sometimes, though, seems like the old paper and pencil is quickest and easiest.

  27. 27
    Cathy says:

    I’ve just started a price book. Not really to compare prices to other stores (there’s only one in my town), but more to see when something is on sale for a good deal.

    Also, we figure is costs us about $10 in gas to go to another grocery store. I eventually want to build up my book so that when I see the other grocery store’s prices, I can figure out if it’s worth the eight dollars to shop at another store.

    While my house remains cluttered, I find I love getting the grocery numbers in order. I may have found my calling!

  28. 28
    Tanja says:

    I love your blog, but I mostly stalk. However, today I linked to you. Go check out my blog to see why. Have a great day!

  29. 29
    Trac y says:

    That’s a great idea. I’m going to have to start one!

  30. 30
    maria says:

    Here is a great list
    compiled by our awesome Coupon Sense Instructors :)
    Maria Adams
    C$ Instructor

    NEVER PAY MORE THAN LIST:

    BABY
    Diapers $6.00/Jumbo package
    Baby wipes $1.00
    Baby food
    Baby formula
    Body wash, shampoo, lotion $1.50
    BAKING MIXES AND SUPPLIES
    Cookie Mix $.50 or free
    Muffin Mix $1.00
    Bisquick Pouch Mix $0.35
    Cake Mix $0.69
    Frosting $.50 or free
    Cooking Oil $1.00
    Flour 5 lbs. $1.00 or $.50
    Sugar 5 lbs $1.50 or $1.00
    Baking soda
    Salt
    Baking Powder
    BEVERAGES
    Soda Free
    Langers frozen juice Free
    Bottled 64 oz juice $1.00
    BREAD AND BAKED GOODS
    Loaf of bread $1.00
    CANDY
    Candy bar $0.25
    CANNED GOODS
    Vegetables $0.25
    Tuna $.50/$.33
    Canned Fruit
    Canned Tomatoes $0.25
    Manwich Free
    Chili beans $0.20
    Bush?s beans Free
    Canned Pasta $0.30
    Gourmet Soups $0.69
    Chef Boyardee $0.67
    Spaghettios $0.10
    CEREAL
    Malt o Meal $1.00
    Brand name $1.67
    CLEANING SUPPLIES
    Air freshener $.50 or free
    Cleaning supplies (windex, 409, etc) $1.00 or $.50
    Tide 100 oz $4.99
    Gain $3.99
    Purex $1.67
    Wisk $2.99
    Snuggles
    Downy 60 loads $2.50
    CONDIMENTS
    Mustard Free
    Relish Free
    Salad dressing Free
    Mayo $1.50 or $1.00
    Ketchup $.30-$.50
    BBQ sauce Free
    COOKIES AND CRACKERS
    Name brand $1.50
    Generic $.88-$1.00
    DAIRY
    Milk ? Gallon $1.80 (Sometimes less)
    Cheese 8 ox $1.00
    Yoplait Yogurt $0.33
    Sour Cream
    Cottage Cheese $1.00
    Cream Cheese $0.67
    Cool Whip $0.50
    Butter real, per pound $1.00 or $.50
    Spreads (margarine type) $0.50
    Small milks $0.30
    DENTAL HYGIENE
    Toothbrushes Free
    Toothpaste Free
    DIET AND NUTRITION
    Slim Fast
    Bars Free
    FROZEN FOODS
    Ice cream $1.50
    Banquet frozen meals $0.50
    Ice Pops $0.50
    Hot Pockets $1.25
    Pizza Rolls Free
    Frozen Veggies $1.00
    HAIR CARE
    Hair Color Free
    Hair spray
    Shampoo/conditioner
    JELLY, SYRUP, PEANUT BUTTER
    Peanut Butter (small) $1.00
    Jelly $0.89
    Syrup 24 ox $1.00
    MEAT
    Bar s hot dogs $0.20
    Other hot dogs(Hebrew nat., Oscar M., etc) $1.50
    Sausage $0.50
    Jenny O Turkey Tubes Free
    Bacon $1.00
    Lean ground beef $1.79
    Boneless, skinless chicken breast $1.47
    Chicken breasts $0.77
    Whole chicken per pound $0.57
    Pork chops
    Pork loin $1.88
    Lunch Meat $0.60
    MEDICINE AND DRUGS
    ETHNIC FOODS
    Flour tortillas $0.99
    Refried beans $0.25
    Barilla Pasta Free
    Canned green chiles Free
    Pasta sauce
    Salsa $1.00
    PAPER SUPPLIES
    TP per roll $.18-$.25 max
    Napkins Free
    Paper towels
    Paper plates
    Tissues $.70/box
    PERSONAL CARE
    Tampons $1.50/box
    Panty liners Free
    Soap $0.50
    Speed stick deodorant Free
    PRODUCE
    Grapes per pound $0.88
    Avocados each $0.50
    Mangos each $0.50
    Head of lettuce $1.00
    Tomatoes per pound $0.69
    Bell peppers $0.50
    Baby carrots $0.99
    Cilantro per bunch $0.33
    Green onions per bunch $0.33
    Yellow onions per pound $0.33
    Potatoes 5 pounds $1.00
    Bananas per pound $0.33
    SEA FOOD
    Salmon $3.99
    Shrimp $3.99
    SIDE DISHES
    Lipton sides Free
    Uncle Ben?s ready rice $0.25
    Mahatma rice mixes $0.25
    Rice a Roni/Pasta Roni $0.25
    SNACKS
    Chex Mix $0.50
    Granola Bars $1.00
    Fruit Snacks Free up to $.50
    Tortilla chips $1.50
    SPICES/FLAVORING
    McCormick Taco Seasonings $0.25
    Spices $0.99
    This is with our COUPONS :)
    More info email me :)

  31. 31

    That is a great great idea, but I don’t have time to do that. Has anyone else said that? (ugh) … I admire you!

  32. 32
    Brooke says:

    I have thought about this often, so am concerned about the time it will take. You may give me the inspiration yet.

  33. 33
    Melody says:

    I used to have one in Excel. It worked ok, when I used it. It was formatted on the computer, and then printed out; I filled everything in by hand and reprinted pages as needed.

    Then I got a Palm. Wow. Mine is really old, but I found a Shopping List software that works with it. Now everything is right with me when I’m out shopping. I blogged about it, if you’re interested.

  34. 34
    Rachel says:

    I want to do this, but I never seem to have the time! Maybe I will start with my reciepts and go from there. Thanks so much!

  35. 35
    Amber (BGH) says:

    I started to do this once but never really got it going. Perhaps I’ll try again… ? :)

    Amber

    Bringing Good Home

  36. 36
    Jenny N says:

    What would be great is if the grocery stores would let you access your purchase data from their membership cards. Then you could see everything about what you’re buying. Of course, then you’d know when you paid too much at their store. LOL!

  37. 37
    Amy says:

    That is so great! I abandoned the price book, but am having to pick it back up because something strange has been happening at my supermarket…the packages have been shrinking! I need to recalculate what I am paying and start getting back on track again.

    Thank you so much for the link!

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