Grocery Price Book

AnneAugust 4, 2001

Looking for some advice - I usually just lurk but I'm trying to get into OAMC so here I am, asking for help.

I think I'm making this Price Book thing harder than it has to be. I'm having some trouble making one for my groceries - I've never used one before so I'm only just getting the hang of it.

I've used an excel spreadsheet with all the local markets down the side and all my items across the top. I write in size, price and then price per unit so I can compare.

Now, do I write down only the sales price or the regular price? How do I work out when it will probably go on sale again so I can stock up until then? Is there anything I'm leaving out that will help me?

And finally, generic vs brand name, I think generic is fine but are there any products for which you actually prefer a brandname?

Please share your methods with me. Thanks very much.

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I am anxious to see the answers here as I have thought about doing this too but it seems like so much work.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2001 at 1:52PM
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Well.....I think that you are supposed to have a sheet for each item. Then you will have the prices at the different stores, sales and regular prices. Then when you get a few of the sales in, you will see a pattern in the timing of the item on sale. I don't know if this is making any sense. But, it is like for paper towels, I have found that my best buy is to wait for them to be on sale at Target. I haven't yet got my price book going (just starting), but I think they go on sale every 8 to 10 weeks. Once I get that really figured out, I will know how many to buy at the sale price to get me through to the next sale. Also, I will know where to go if there is one of those mishaps where a roll fell in the sink and got soaked and I don't quite make it to the next big purchase. Hope that helped...

    Bookmark   August 5, 2001 at 11:30AM
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A friend, Deb, who reads here suggests this:

In front of each section of my coupon file I keep a recipe card, and I write down when there was a good sale, what store it was and what the price was. That way when matching up your coupons with your weekly ads it's easier to keep track of how often it may fall on sale. Hope this makes sense.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2001 at 8:06AM
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I think you're hitting the nail on the head by comparing prices across the board. Keep them honest. I think, though, that you only need to do this to find the overall cheapest market around, then shop there exclusively. Why? The cost of running around town to save on single items hits you in costs that aren't obvious - gasoline, wear and tear on the car, time lost on other things, etc. Use coupons on things you normally buy. If you happen to be at Target or Walmart and see a great buy on something, stock up on it.

On generic items you'll probably want to experiment. There will be hits and misses, for sure. It kind of depends on what your used to.

Just my opinion...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2001 at 7:27PM
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I have seen tips (I think at and in the book the Tightwad Gazette) that items generally go on sale in about 6 week "rotations". So, until you notice a different pattern or get the hang of your store, assume you should stock up about 6 weeks' worth when you do see a sale.

For the price book, save yourself a little time by only charting somewhat higher-priced items (meats, packaged cereals, soda, convenience foods) and the things you buy lots of (staples like flour, eggs, canned goods, produce). Don't bother with something like spices, occasional snacks, or whatever else you buy sometimes but not every trip to the store. In my price list, I only wrote down the regular price of the item in my price sheet, so when there is a sale, I would know if it was a good deal or not. I think I want to go back and add which stores usually put things on sale and what their sale prices are, since I really only want to buy stuff when it is on sale and ideally never pay full price!

I also agree with Mike's suggestion about totalling up all your info when you're done and just finding the cheapest store overall. Figure out which store has the most cheap items and what it would cost you to buy one of everything there (even though some of the items would be cheaper somewhere else). Then figure out what you would pay if you went to get each item at the store that was cheapest for that thing. Then you can decide if the $$ saved is worth the extra trips, or if you will simply do all of your shopping at XYZ store from now on!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2001 at 11:12AM
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I happened across a nice chart at that tells you the general rule for who's cheaper as a
general rule across the country - warehouse clubs like Sam's or Costco, vs. the supermarket. If you don't have the time
or inclination to keep a detailed price book, this is a good rule of thumb about what to buy where. It's one of the articles in the "Free Preview" issue.

Of course, you'd still have to have a price book if you wanted to decide between several different supermarkets in your area, but this is a good starting point anyway!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2001 at 2:52PM
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I agree about the folly of running from store to store; I work from home so road time can quickly become lost income. And the price books seem like so much work. So I save the grocery sale newspaper ads and clipless coupon books from the mail, and I also go online to the major chain stores in my neighborhood to compare sale prices. After a few cycles I can see where the things I use most are cheapest and plan my shopping accordingly.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2001 at 8:44PM
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