Saturday, April 18, 2009

How to Make a Price Book and Slash Grocery Spending

If you want to stock your cupboards with food purchased at the lowest prices, you need to know what the best prices are! My price book, which allows me to stock up during the best sales, has made the biggest difference to my grocery budget. It saves me far more money than coupons, or any other list of grocery saving tips and tricks.

My main goal at Stocking the Larder is to tell you what I have discovered each week from comparing the flyers, my coupons and my own price book. That is actually how this blog was started. I kept emailing my brother a list of the best deals I found each week. He suggested I start a blog because other local shoppers might find it useful. If you are living in Ontario, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed to keep track of my weekly grocery store deals.

You can do the same thing I do, if you have a little extra time and some patience, to make sure you are getting the best deals on the food you want to store in your home. Some people only track a few items, which is a great way to get started.

My price book is an Excel spreadsheet, with a new tab for each category of grocery item. These categories include:
  • Dairy and Eggs (including cheese, milk, butter, eggs)
  • Fresh Produce and Meats (including fresh fruit and vegetables, different sorts of meat)
  • Dry Goods (including flour, sugar, cereal, dry pasta, and a section for treats)
  • Canned Goods (including canned tomatoes, canned soups, oil, tuna)
  • Frozen (including frozen fruit and vegetables, ice cream)
  • Beverages (including apple juice, tea, coffee, orange juice)
  • Pet Care (including cat food and kitty litter. I can't use the cheapest brands of food, because they don't seem to agree with my cats. I keep track of the brands that work, listed separately. It helps me keep track of the best prices as well as what my cats will eat!)
  • Personal Care (including toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper)
  • Cleaning and Food Storage (including garbage bags, laundry detergent, ammonia)
I list everything I buy under each category. I add prices to my price book from my receipts and from the weekly flyers. For each item I record:
  • price paid
  • size of the item
  • unit price
  • date purchased
  • store
  • coupon used (if any)
My spreadsheet automatically figures out the unit price for each item, usually calculated per 100 mL or 100 g. (The price per millilitre (mL) or per gram (g) is often so low, it would show up as $0.00, which isn't very helpful! Also store labels usually give unit prices in terms of per 100 mL or 100 g, making it a more useful number for comparison shopping.)

A sample unit price calculation:

Price Paid: $1.99
Size of the item: 750 mL

Unit Price = Price Paid/Size of of the item
Unit Price = $1.99/750 mL
Unit Price = $0.00265 per mL

To make this more useful, multiply by 100
Unit Price per 100 mL = $0.26 per 100 mL

I keep multiple prices for most items. This helps me see what items have a regular sales cycle, and helps me determine how much to buy during a sale.

I make a weekly shopping list, so I find that I usually don't need to bring my price book with me. If there are any prices that aren't clear from the flyers (usually related to item size), I make a note on my list to check it out at the store. I am working on making a sheet I can print out and keep in my coupon wallet so that I can always check to see if a clearance item at the grocery store or some unadvertised special is really a good deal, but this isn't a priority because it is so infrequently needed.

If you considering starting your own price book, there are several great resources on the web.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for the guide, this tutorial was extremely important for me to learn how to make a price book and slash grocery spending. Many thanks