Baby Steps To Saving on Groceries: Creating a Price Book

The way I see it, you have a few options to remembering what the best deals are.  You can:

1.  Develop a great memory for numbers (even though you may not remember what you ate for lunch yesterday).

2.  Start your own blog and write about grocery prices 7 days per week (believe me – you’ll never forget prices again!)

3.  Create and keep a price book until #1 happens

What is a Price Book?  It is exactly what is sounds like.  It is a listing of the groceries you buy with the regular price as well as the rock-bottom price.

How can this help you?  We all know the games that grocery stores like to play.  We are conditioned to believe that, if an item is in the circular, it must be a good price! But the truth is:  stores just love to knock $.19 off an item that is normally $2.69 and call it a sale. While you can usually figure out that it isn’t that great a deal once you are in the store, that doesn’t help you too much if you are sitting at home creating a shopping list from the circulars!

So how can you create one?  It’s easy!

A price book can be something as simple as a looseleaf notebook (similar to your coupon binder) with sections for each category of food.  Simply write down the items you buy along with the price.  When you see an item on sale, make a note next to the item of the sale price. It’s even a good idea to make a little mark next the sale price each time you see it at that price.  The next time you are flipping through the circulars and see Apple Juice on sale for $2, a quick flip to your Beverage section will show you that if you just wait a few weeks, it will probably be on sale at 3 for $5 (at which point you want to stock up with enough to last you until the next sale).

Oh – and the best part?  Creating your price book is not something that you need to do while you are in the grocery store chasing your children around the aisles. These days most grocery store receipts show the regular price as well as the sale price.  Simply grab your last few receipts, a cup of tea and get to work!

Want to get more high-tech (or neater) than a notebook with scribbles?

Check out this site, this site and this sitefor free printables and tools that you can use to create your own price book.

There is also a not-very-frugal-but-oh-do-I-love-it program out there called SplashShopper. It is $30 and was given to me several years ago by my father-in-law.  It is available for desktop, Pocket PC, Blackberry, Smartphone, iPhone and even for my fellow Palm lovers (all 3 of you).  While I love it, I would suggest that you use the 30-day trial before buying. It’s one of those programs that people either love or hate…there seems to be very little middle ground.

Do you have a price book?   How has it helped you?


  1. says

    I first used a price book 13 years ago. I got so I didn’t need it much once I could remember the prices. There were a few years in there that I didn’t keep up on the pricebook changes (WHEN did the price of hamburger become “a good deal” at 1.69 a pound? Anyone? Anyone?). Now I have one again, mostly because my husband has started to do a lot of the grocery shopping and needed a guide so he stopped buying hamburger at $2.09 a pound. {faints}

  2. says

    I used one for a while about two years ago and it was very helpful. I only tracked about 25 different things because I’m horrible about remembering numbers and I never could remember if Safeway, Luckys or Costco was the best bet for certain things. Now that I’ve got a pretty good handle on where to buy certain things, I haven’t kept up lately. It might be a good idea to do it again to make sure I have the good deals down.

    Kendra@ShoppingforTwos last blog post..A Little Lark T-Shirts

  3. says

    I started with a price book (handwritten) then graduated to a program on my Palm and now most of the numbers are in my head. New or never purchased items I do write down until I become familiar with it’s full and sale price.

    Another great post.

  4. Liz says

    Greetings from one of the three Palm users. Are you familiar with Handy Shopper? It’s freeware and I love it for grocery shopping. You create a master list of items, click the ones you want, and they appear in a “needed” view. Then click them off as you buy them, checkout, and you’re done. It’s pretty much infinitely expandable–list as many different stores as you want, with their aisle numbers and prices. I have one for the “best prices,” so I can check what the rock bottom price is as I’m shopping. You can also set up different databases, say for drugstores and grocery stores. It’s available for both Palm and Windows Mobile. I am dreading the day Palm finally quits supporting organizers, I don’t know if I can live without this program!