I've found it quite challenging to keep our grocery bills reasonable here in Canada. In other places I've lived, I could get a lot of bang for my buck by doing most of my shopping at bare bones stores like Aldi or Lidl. However, there's nothing like that around here, and food prices are quite high. So in order to become a more savvy shopper, I have once again turned to The Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyzyn, my favorite reference for saving money. Amy is a genius at keeping her grocery bills down, and she says that making a Price Book has been the key.
This year, I finally compiled a Price Book, where I can record what various items cost at different stores. I took a three ring binder, and divided it into categories (Meat, Vegetables, Grains, etc.). Each section will have one page per item, and I keep the pages in alphabetical order for easy reference. So, if you flip through my fruit section, you'll start with Apples, turn the page to Bananas, and on to Cantaloupe, etc. As in the example below for peanut butter, I have one column each for the store name, brand name, price, and unit price. To calculate the unit price, divide the price by the amount. Once you have a basic list of some recent prices, you might decide to only add a new one if it's lower than the ones you already have.
I'll also write notes to myself on certain pages. For example, I have a page for canned beans, but a note at the top says: "Alternative: cook dried beans and freeze in portions." Same with things like yogurt and pasta sauce and tortillas--it's generally so much cheaper just to make them at home.
I compiled my prices from actual receipts, sales flyers, and writing some prices down as I browsed in the store. It's worth it to check out stores you haven't visited as well, or local sources like nearby farmers. It's a bit laborious at first, but once the Price Book is set up, it's easy to use. I've learned when a sale is a great deal, and when it's not really a sale at all. I've been surprised to learn that buying from the bulk bins is not always cheapest. There are grocery stores on the expensive side, but their sales are fantastic.
Some people can probably just remember prices in their head, but it's good for me to write it down! If it sounds like too much work, I'd recommend starting a little Price Book with the 10-20 items you buy most frequently. Or perhaps you have found other good ways to track prices?
Proof and Certainty
1 day ago