Don’t Eat Your Wallet! 10 easy steps to reducing grocery expenses – Step 2 Use a price book. This is one of the most important tools. Although you may find these already done online, they really won’t help you because it must be unique to YOUR area and YOUR family. Grocery stores can charge different prices within the same chain. I live 3.8 miles from two Krogers (crazy, huh?—both exactly the same distance from my house)—and there are a few items that have up to a 10 cent difference ON THE SAME ITEM between those two stores.

Your price book can be paper and pencil or electronic but, again, needs to be personalized to your family. This is how you’ll figure out the lowest price generally available on items your family uses regularly. The key is “items your family uses regularly”. If you only buy an item once or twice a year, it’s not as big a deal as if you are saving weekly or monthly. When you find a deal that beats that best price, stock up! I keep mine on the computer and carry a printout of it in my purse. Here is a peek at mine:

(Picture will be added when I get technical help!)

Obviously, I still have work to do. It’s wise to update it periodically, too.

Excel makes it easy to do the math. Price divided by size = unit price. So, $6.99 divided by 40 (ounces) = $0.17/oz. It helps me to remember the formula by reminding myself that if I spend $1 for 4 candy bars, they cost $0.25 each (1.00 divided by 4 = .25).

Once you’ve collected prices from your usual stores, I highly recommend highlighting your best price among the options.

To start your own price book, make a list of a dozen items you purchase regularly. Click here for an Excel or PDF file to help you get started (or just use a piece of scrap paper). Remember things like personal items, laundry products, other cleaning supplies, over the counter (OTC) medications, and especially any item that you can only use a particular brand. For example, my family has a lot of deodorant and shampoo allergies, so some of the guys can only use Degree clear deodorant; one child can only use Neutrogena’s basic shampoo (hooray when we found a store brand of that for a fraction of the cost!!); special dental floss is needed for the kids with braces. If you can only use a particular brand, make a note of that (circle or highlight the item).

Once you have that first dozen items, add-on items over the next month as you do your shopping. Take a few minutes each day that you go shopping and add to your price book. It’s so much easier when the receipt and item are nearby—so you have the price and size available to do the math. You’re done whenever you are comfortable with your list.

By the way, see that pricey item “cashews”? They add such a great touch to stir fries which gets my gang eating more veggies, making them worth the splurge here occasionally. And to make sure they don’t disappear before they are needed in those recipes, I measure recipe portions into sandwich bags and put an “off limits” sign on the cashew container. Works here. 

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