When purchasing big ticket items such as cellphones, TVs and furniture, we spend hours scouring retail stores, browsing Amazon and even going to flea markets for great deals. What if I told you that you can exercise the same level of thoroughness in a fraction of the time while grocery shopping, allowing you to save hundreds of dollars each year? How is that possible, you may be asking. Friends, look no further than a price book.

What is a price book?

A price book is a go-to book of all your staple grocery items that lists the prices of each good from different grocery stores in your area.

Once compiled, it allows you to diligently compare prices for each good ensuring that you always buy the most affordable version and save!

With a price book in hand, you will very easily be able to tell if an item is really a good deal or not. For example, imagine if you’re shopping for cereal and find its pricing to be as follows:

Trader Joe’s – $4.99

Aldi – $4.50

K-Mart (sale) – $4.75

While in K-Mart, you may be tempted to pick the item there because the word “sale” sounds enticing, however, with your price book in hand, you can quickly check and see that Aldi is offering the same item for even less than the supposed K-Mart sale!

Why all the fuss?

While K-Mart may display huge “sale” banners all over the product, you could still realize more in savings by shopping at Aldi. As you can see, having a price book is a real money saver because it eliminates all the noise from items that appear to be reasonably priced but that are not really a good deal when you shop elsewhere!

How it works

Putting together a price book can be a really fun exercise that can be completed in 3 simple steps.

1. Save receipts

The first step in the process is to gather all the relevant prices of items you regularly buy.

The simplest, no-fuss way to do so is to keep all your receipts in an envelope over a couple of purchase cycles so that you have good data points. This allows you to gather the relevant data points during your regular shopping routine.

An alternative way is to go to your top go-to grocery stores in your area and take down prices manually of all the items that you regularly use. This can also be handy in that you can commit a few hours to this process and be done in one effort. If you do it this way, I would suggest taking photos of the pricing information which you can then write when you get home.

2. Prepare your book

Step 2 is the meat of the process. This step involves doing the following:

Select the medium – do you enjoy organizing your life electronically or do you use pen and paper? This is important to distinguish so you can determine what will make the most sense for you in terms of where to create your price book. Whatever the case, any medium is equally good, the key is to work with something you are comfortable with.

I personally love pencil and paper. Find a small, portable notebook that you can dedicate to this exercise.

Alternatively, you can use Google Spreadsheets from your phone to track prices.

Whatever the case, simplicity is key.                                 

Set up the tabs

Tabs are an essential part of the price book because they make it so much easier to locate where everything is!

Some helpful tabs to include would be: beverages, bread, dairy, fruits, meat, veggies, toiletries etc. If you’re feeding a family, other tabs such as kid’s lunch or baby items

could be particularly helpful.

When it comes to the pencil and paper version, dedicating a page or half a page to a category of items will be sufficient.

Set up columns

The key pieces of information you should look to track are the following:

  • Date
  • Item
  • Store
  • Brand
  • Price and quantity
  • Unit price

Listing items alphabetically under each category will be very helpful in allowing you to track items quickly.



Record the prices

Now for the best part – recording prices. This can be done in multiple ways.

Firstly, and potentially the easiest, is recording the prices into your price book right in the store. This will no doubt present itself as the easiest and quickest way depending on your circumstances. I highly recommend doing this at off-peak hours otherwise you could end up jostling elbows with many shoppers at your local Trader Joes – not fun!

The other alternative is to simple calculate the price per unit.

Price per unit = display price / number of units

For example, almond milk at my local Trader Joe’s is $2.69 for a 64oz. bottle. For the price per oz., I simply divide $2.69 by 64 to give me 4.2cents per oz.

3. Periodically update

Now that the book is up to date and ready for use, remember to carry it with you on every trip to the grocery store and you’ll begin to see how much more purposeful you become with your money and how much happier your bank account becomes!

If you’ve been struggling with your grocery budget, I can guarantee you that incorporating a price book into your shopping trip will make a world of difference! While it may seem time consuming to prepare, don’t be discouraged – push through and begin to realize immediate savings that will boost your budget.

If you have any questions at all on how to set one up, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or question below! Would be glad to help out!


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