Last week, I talked about how I organize my coupons. My box holds coupons, but also is my price book and my menu planning helper, too.
What’s a price book?
A price book is a list of items you use the most often, with notes about where you can get it for the best price. It’s your key to paying the lowest price for the bulk of your food.
Some people actually write it out in a notebook, but I’d just lose that. So, I write my price info directly on the card in my coupon box!
How do you set it up? Next time you go shopping, save your receipts. You can also make a note of sizes and prices of your staples at the store, but some shops (cough, WalMart, cough cough) get annoyed when you do that, so be discreet. (Yeah, writing down how much a bag of rice costs shouldn’t be a problem, but some places are just hyper sensitive.)
Divide the total price by the units (usually ounces for food products) and you’ll come up with a price per unit so you can compare different sized packages. You can’t always rely on the store’s price tags, so do the math yourself.
Grape jam (the cheap HFCS kind) costs $1.18 for 24 oz. at WalMart. $1.18 / 24 = 4.9 cents per oz.
Why is this useful? Someday, Kroger might have a sale on Welch’s, say, 2/$4 for 28 oz. I might have a 55 cent off coupon. Is that a good deal? $2 – 55 cent coupon = $1.45. $1.45 / 28 oz. = 5.2 cents per oz. Now I know it’s cheaper to buy Bama without a coupon than Welch’s with a coupon.
It also helps me optimize my grocery shopping time. If I can discover from loss leaders and sales that Kroger only has one item that is cheaper than my usual grocery store, I won’t make a stop there – even though their sale flyer seems to show rock bottom prices.
I write the date, the store, the brand, the size, and then the price per unit.
My entry for brown rice looks like this:
01/09 Adolpho WalMart 32 oz. 3.5 cents/oz.
02/09 Daguet’s HEB 48 oz. 4.77 cents/oz.
(Yeah, my handwriting only gets worse when jotting notes down on the grocery cart!)
The price book is how I figured out that I wasn’t saving any money at Sam’s Club (except on soy sauce. They have a killer deal on Kikkoman!)
Every once in a while, double check your card and make sure the price hasn’t gone up at one store and your prices are still accurate. Just check one or two items each time you go and your book will always be up to date.