Cutting Food Costs: The Price Book
Here I am again, into a new month with a new meal plan! I’m dedicated to cutting our food bill while also avoiding the “what should we do for dinner” dance each evening.
Here’s a quick update. This month, I planned for 16 meals. I’ve been to the grocery store once, Wal-Mart once, and Walgreens once. I’ve spent a total of $242 and there’s nothing (as of today?) I know I’ll need by the end of the month.
I also borrowed a book from the library on cutting our grocery bill even further, Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half by Steve and Annette Economides. I’ve seen this family on TV, and they’re truly experts at frugality. There are a ton of tips in their book, but so far, the biggest one I’ve taken away so far is the need to have a price book.
The importance of a price book isn’t new to me, but I’ve really procrastinated doing it. I’ve just been too lazy to do the work myself and record prices. Instead, I’ve taken shortcuts: followed blogs that list and rate the week’s grocery deals, I’ve checked out CouponMom and similar sites for their ratings, and I started my super-abbreviated price list in August for about 8 items.
After reading the section in the book on having a price book, I finally realized no shortcut is going to have as big an impact as the price book itself. So finally, I dug out a little, old notebook and filled it alphabetically with a list of products we use regularly, one per page. It only has a couple weeks of price info in it right now, and some items have no price yet. But for a few, I’ve noted prices from several ads and/or stores and I’ve found a shocking variation in prices that I never would’ve noticed before.
Cheerios. We’re brand-specific on this one, but I’m okay with Regular, Honey Nut or whatever other flavor. Cheerios also comes in a bunch of different sized boxes. A couple weeks ago, the 8.9 ounce box of Regular Cheerios was priced at $3.19 at our King Soopers. This week, a 14 ounce box of ANY Cheerios is $1.99 at Safeway. Big difference!! That’s a range in cost of 14 cents per ounce to 36 cents per ounce.
Kraft singles. Again, we’re brand specific on these. I’ve tried generic singles and they are *bad*. Yuck! Last week Kraft Singles (16 pack) was $2.88 during my shopping trip at WalMart. This week, the same size package is $1.49 at King Soopers! (If that’s not a great argument that Wal-Mart doesn’t always have the best prices, I don’t know what is.)
Coffee. We’re not brand specific here, per se, because we go with either the generic Kroger brand or Folgers. The Kroger brand 34.5 oz package of “Breakfast Blend” is almost always $8.99, and Folgers is almost always $9.88 at King Soopers. (Yow. Coffee is so expensive!) This week, the 34.5 oz Folgers Country Blend was $6.99 at Walgreens. I haven’t tried Country Blend before, but for a $2 savings, I think I can give it a shot!
Another quick and easy one is Diet Pepsi. When we drink pop, it’s almost always Diet Pepsi. Usually the price is 3 12-packs for $11, which *seems* pretty good, considering the individual cost per 12 pack is around $4 or $5. Two weeks ago, the price at King Soopers was 4 12 packs for $10. I’m pretty sure I’ve also seen 5/$12, but not for a while. So far, my “buy price” is now $2.50 per 12-pack.
So there you have it. The concept of a price book could mean a difference of $2 or more per item on my shopping list, and I’m finally doing it. I just take my little notebook with me to the store, write down some prices here and there, and then I use my receipt when I get home to fill in the rest. Not every price is updated each week, and I even have a few items where I haven’t yet put in even one price….but I’ll get there. Grocery store ads also help me update the prices.
Do you have a price book? Do you know your “buy price” for the major groceries you use? Am I the only one who can’t remember the “good” price from week to week? (I wouldn’t be surprised at all, actually!)