As mothers, we spend untold amount of time making sure our families have food to eat. Let’s look at some ways to take the stress and redundancy out of the process!
Yesterday: When to Shop
Grocery Shopping Tip: Çreate a simple, portable price book.
Have you heard of a price book before? A price book is a log of what items cost at each store you shop at. Usually they are spreadsheets that then you print and put in your household notebook.
The idea is that after noting down the prices, you not only know what store you should buy what items at, you also know the baseline price so you can recognize sales. Yes, you can’t always trust the fact that there is a sale tag. I have sometimes even seen a sale tag that had a price higher than it had been the week before!
But a price book is a lot of work, clearly. Is it worth it?
It is very helpful to know the baseline prices for the items that you buy so that you can recognize both good deals and tricky marketing. It’s helpful for when you’re at a store you don’t usually go to, to know if these prices marked as “amazing deals” really are.
But, a price book is a lot of work. I made a complete one when I was newly married and eager to increase my grocery shopping skills and savvy. Just the process of making it helped my understanding and knowledge of grocery store pricing and ballpark numbers to expect. After years of shopping now, I generally have a good estimate ballpark in my head, but I have much more, and much more important, things to track with that internal CPU space. Plus, sometimes my husband takes the list and gets the items for me, and even though I have items (like meat and vegetables) on a list, my real process is to only get them if they are within a certain price range, and, their price determines the quantity I buy. It is hard to add that to a list! Calling up the right numbers is especially difficult while at the kitchen table.
So, of course, the answer is to simplify the price book.
Already it is easier because we have a limited master pantry list and only 2-3 stores to check. Even a full price book is a manageable project with those limitations. But I want to simplify it further.
- Copy your master pantry list. However you keep it – paper, document, or Evernote note – start a new one and name it Price Notes.
- Immediately after the item, you’ll write the lowest non-sale price you typically find or the price at which you are willing to purchase the item (with produce, for example).
- It’s best if you can keep your prices standardized to a unit price, usually price per ounce or pound is the easiest to track. Use # after the number for price per pound and z or * after it for price per ounce.
- Add the initial of the store you usually find that price at. I use W for WinCo, C for Costco, and Y for Yoke’s. Then I can tell at a glance if WinCo’s sale price beats Costco’s normal price or if Yoke’s advertised sale is actually a lower price.
That’s it. One number next to each item on the list to give you a baseline price for in-the-moment comparisons.
A price book helps you take advantage of real sales and not be taken advantage of with false sales.
Mystie Winckler began menu planning at 11 years old when her mom delegated one dinner a week to her. Marrying at 19, she’s had a lot of practice over the years. But between growing and homeschooling her family, meal planning often requires brain power that just isn’t there any more. Simplified Dinners is her solution to take the effort and thought out of healthy, frugal cooking. And now it is available for you, too!