Finding the best price on grocery items can be a game changer in a family’s budget. Grocery price comparison and general grocery pricing can be difficult to understand, but knowing those prices can save you thousands each year. This grocery price book and supermarket price spreadsheet will make it simple for busy families.
Post-Covid note: Food prices do seem to fluxuate a lot lately, I feel like. Ride those waves, check out different grocery stores, keep a small amount of food storage, and hopefully you can ride the waves of price increases and still try to get your best value where possible. The good news is that some items seemed to decrease in price during all of this!
Grocery Price Comparisons with a Grocery Price Book
What is a grocery price book?
It sounds complicated, but it’s not. For me, it was just writing down the items in the grocery flyers that we used frequently.
It really is just that simple.
Yes, you may have outliers, but for the most part, there are probably 40 (or so) items that your family uses REALLY frequently — ones that are often on your shopping list.
I would start small, and then expand your list as you get better at it — it’s the best way to do it (so you don’t get overwhelmed at the first).
It’s just keeping track of pricing on those items so you can REALLY know what’s a good deal (vs not a good deal).
Where are the Cheapest Groceries?
That’s the big question right — which grocery store saves you most? The reality is that some companies run BIG sales, but regular pricing is higher.
Some grocery stores have better every-day pricing but then run fewer sales. As you compare sales at local grocery stores you’ll start to see it more and more. Trends will become more clear. It’s awesome! Most people find using this helps them figure out a favorite grocery store for pricing, convenience and having the things they need.
How to make a grocery store price comparison chart:
Making a grocery price list can be done a few ways.
Grocery Store Price Comparison Chart
For me (back, before smartphones), I just did it in a tiny notebook. I’d write the store name, the items we buy frequently, and the price of the item (and often the # of ounces).
The benefit to this one is that it’s VERY “there” — easy to look at flip through to see what prices were and when.
The con is it’s not always available. If I left that at home on my way home from work I couldn’t just look at my phone. And if it’s not there it’s not helping your grocery budget.
Pro Tip #1: As you’re jotting down prices on food items make sure to somehow note what size the container is. Getting the lowest price on the UNIT PRICE is what’s important. Just because you pay a dollar for 3 oz of mayonaise doesn’t make it a good deal (since it’s so little). Try to be as accurate as possible (things like toilet paper are hard to figure out because of how they show the square footage) — and assess the “total price” of an item.
Pro Tip #2: The first time you shop with this method, it might take more time than usual. But soon it won’t take much time at all!
Grocery Price Comparison Spreadsheet
Welcoming in the new age of smart phones or your mobile device makes this a lot easier to lower your grocery bill.
In fact, I created a spreadsheet for you, and you can download it to see how it works comparing the best deals on your grocery list. You can easily use it in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel during your grocery shopping.
But again, you’re mostly just writing down the items you use most frequently and then noting their sale price.
BTW if getting in routines to really make life EASIER is on your list of things to do — I totally recommend this course. So many families have engaged their families to help them more with it!
What do I do now?
Ok, once you have the prices, study that book in your spare time.
- Memorize what a good price is on those items — or maybe make an extra column for when you find a “new low” on it.
- You won’t ALWAYS find the super low prices, but start to gauge a target price at which you’ll buy, and a target price at which you’ll stock up
- Notice the cycles. Stuff seems to go on sale every 6 to 8 weeks. Somehow that always helps me when we’re running low and I’m not seeing a favorite item on sale.
A word of caution:
Be thoughtful of what you have on hand (which is why I have a pantry inventory excel file) that will help you neither run-out nor buy too many of an item. Now isn’t the time to throw a grocery list out the window — the cheapest way to buy groceries is to not buy them at all!
Compare Grocery Store Prices in your Area / Zip Code
The easiest way to create a grocery price book
Some of you might be feeling a little overwhelmed right now — and are asking….
Is there an easier way?
Yes, there is.
When we moved to Arizona I KNEW that the prices were WAY different than they were in California (for instance, as Trader Joes has similar prices across it stores often they were cheaper in California, but that isn’t as true here in Arizona).
I also had just moved (and needed a lot of food for my family of 5), I was starting a new job, my husband was also starting a new job, and graduate school.
I just was overwhelmed — so I used Deals to Meals. I paid for it, and it really taught me how to manage prices in my new area.
Grocery Price Comparison FAQ’s
I would ask around — but honestly, I think nothing substitutes being able to glance at a flyer and know what’s a good price, and what isn’t. Yes, I often use something like Deals to Meals to get comfortable with good prices in our area when we move.
But, once I get good — I go it alone. It just saves time.
Honestly, I do think staples have GREAT every-day pricing at Walmart. BUT, other grocery stores aisles will beat Walmart. SO, if something’s on sale buy it at the grocery store, but if you need a staple or something you rarely find on sale, Walmart is a good option — I think!
I think that 100% varies depending on where you live. And, honestly, what you’re looking for.
Either way, creating a price book is one of the smartest and most cost-efficient things I ever did. Knowing good pricing on items you buy over and over, week after week is just HUGE financial sense.
I found it really helpful to find other like-minded grocery bargain hunters who could point out good sales. It’s just hard to catch everything as a human.
It can be tempting to make many shopping trips to multiple stores for a lower price, but remember your time is also quite valuable, so do what works for you.
I would commend making a meal plan so you know what you need and don’t end-up over-buying.
Don’t forget to grab the spreadsheet
Check out one of my favorite ways to save at the grocery store, and then check out my other family finance posts below that: