One of the key ways to save money grocery shopping is to create a book to keep track of prices in your area. But, how can you track prices when there are so many different brands and sizes to choose from? It sometimes seems like there is a conspiracy bent on confusing consumers. However, it is possible for you to beat them at their own game.
From store to store, the prices for many items vary widely. But, in general, they average out overall. The key is to figure out how to buy only the cheapest products at each store. Among the grocery shopping options you may have in your area are
Overpriced stores that regularly have great sales:
- Day old bread stores
- Farmers markets
- Warehouse stores
- Natural foods stores
Creating a Price Book
You will want to use a small loose leaf binder for your price book. Each page of the binder should only contain the prices for one item (such as, peanut butter, milk, eggs, butter, etc.) By using a loose leaf binder, you will be able to organize the items in alphabetical order for quick reference. On each page, you will want columns for the price, the brand, the unit price (for example, cents per pound), the size of the item, the store from which the item was purchased, and the date when the purchase was made.
To help build up your price book, you may want to start by looking at the sales flyers for stores in your Sunday paper or online. Also, look at your grocery receipts. You may also want to bring your price book with you to the stores to compare prices, like a money saving spy. You will soon find that not every sale that grocery stores have is really a sale. With months of records, you will be able to identify with confident when you find a good buy.
You may think that the idea of shopping at so many stores is inconceivable and that the idea sounds like too much work at first. But, in the long run, it does pay off. To make sure you hit all of the stores in a 30 day cycle, you might try shopping at different stores each week. After you get used to the planning involved, aside from a few short trips for unbeatable sales, you will only need one shopping trip per month.
Buy in Bulk
Using your price book, you will be able to know with a high level of certainty when you spot a good deal. In order to maximize this knowledge, you need to take full advantage of these sales. You should have a good idea of how much of an item your family will go through before it expires. Let this be your guide for how much you buy. If you have space for it, you may want to invest in a larger extra freezer.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why is there no smartphone app or website for this?” Through the magic of the internet, users could catalog prices at local stores and help build the database. There are a variety of different apps and websites that are attempting to do just that. Unfortunately, they all rely on user input and constant updating to be successful, and none of the apps have developed a large enough following to be of much use.
In the meantime, you will just have to rely on good old fashioned pen and paper. Nonetheless, the price book will revolutionize your shopping experience. For the first time, you will feel like you are in control of your food budget.
Additional Resources To Help With Your Food Budget:
- 12 Ways To Save On Grocery Shopping – Money saving grocery shopping tips from the experts at WebMD.
- 49 Ways To Save Money On Groceries – An exhaustive list of money saving ideas from Neil Shelton, a top personal finance blogger.
- Save Money On Groceries Without Coupons – Hidden tricks to save money without clipping coupons from Kiplinger personal finance.
- How To Save Money On Groceries – The one and only Oprah’s money saving tips.
- Save Money On Holiday Groceries – From your’s truly, ReferLocal.
- Save Money On Healthy Groceries – Healthy food can really get expensive! Here are some tips to stick within your food budget and still eat healthy.
If you have a secret for staying within your food budget that we haven’t covered, let us know in the comments!