Monday Mission: Make a Grocery Price Book

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Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to make a price book to keep track of the best deals on real food in your area.

Whether you shop at Farmer’s Markets, online in bulk, or at a variety of grocery and health food stores, chances are there are ‘best deals’ out there on most of the items your family eats. You don’t want to forget where to find them!

Make a Grocery Shopping Price Book

Years ago when I kept a Flylady control journal, one of the parts in mine was a price book. It was a really helpful way to make sure I knew basic price points on the staples so I would know if a sale was a good deal or not, compared to best prices at other stores. I didn’t always even have to refer to the price book after I finished it, because I held a lot in my head.

Then food prices started skyrocketing and I had another baby (and started blogging), and that was the last time I kept a price book.

Farmer’s Market Confusion

Egg and garlic market

I remember especially when I first was going regularly to the Farmer’s Market, I’d walk up and down the whole length of the market, checking all the prices and trying to remember the least expensive ones as well as make a mental list of all that I wanted to pick up that day.

By the time I was making purchases, there were so many numbers swimming in my head that invariably I’d be buying a vegetable and just grab another veggie at the same stand, then a few paces down I’d see that second “efficiency buy” for a dollar a pound less. Arg! Foiled by distractions in the stroller and too much information without writing it all down.

I don’t have a smart phone, but is there an app for that? Just think: a Farmer’s Market price book app could track farmer’s prices via GPS according to where their stall is, and I’ve always thought an app that determines best price at various local stores – people could input prices into a shared database like gas buddy – would be awesome. Is there anything like that?

My Price Book

Personally, my price book will be most important for bulk orders, to answer  questions like, “What is the price of nuts per pound at Country Life, and is that sale at Meijer a better deal perhaps?”

This week, I’m bound and determined to finish the one I’ve started in a spreadsheet doc and make it work for me. My old one was on paper, which was my first mistake – too hard to update as the prices change.

I’ll save it on my computer, mostly, and find it quickly using my search function trick. I have the items on each row, and the columns at the top are labeled “size” first of all, where I’ll put “/pound” or “/ounce” or “/liter.” Then there are columns for the places I most commonly buy food: Country Life, Costco, Meijer, Aldi, other.

I think I might need a separate page for produce, just so I don’t get too many columns going once I add the market prices.

So far here’s my list:

  • Black beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Green Lentils
  • Great Northern beans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Flax seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Basmati rice
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Teff
  • Sorghum flour
  • Arrowroot starch
  • Almond meal
  • Baking powder
  • Raisins
  • Dried cherries
  • Dates
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic powder
  • Cumin
  • Parsley, dried
  • Peanut butter
  • Olive oil
  • Tahini
  • Stevia powder
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Sucanat
  • GF pasta (rice)
  • GF pasta (quinoa)

Turns out a price book list is also a good place to note the information you’ve learned about quality and sourcing. For example, some of the spices at Country Life are irradiated and others aren’t, but none of the spices are at my local health foods store, which has great bulk spice prices.

New Series

What Does a Real Foodie Buy at

This week’s series will give me a head start in filling the prices in – I’m sharing “What Does a Real Foodie Buy at…?” all week long, with posts on my opinionated purchases at Costco, Aldi, Country Life, Amazon, and Tropical Traditions. Get ready to chime in with your favorites!

If you don’t have access to a Farmer’s Market (or can’t get to your local one at the right time), you can order produce boxes from a number of online sources. If you’re in Michigan, Chicago, Kansas City, Colorado, or the Tri-State area, our new sponsor Door to Door Organics delivers right to your door. (Take $10 off your first order by clicking this link.)

Do you keep a price book for groceries? Why or why not?

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon and Tropical Traditions from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. Door to Door is a May sponsor receiving their complementary mention in a post. See my full disclosure statement here.


Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

29 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Brittany says

    Thanks for the great reminder. I used to do this, but haven’t kept up. We’ve really been pushing our food budget lately, so this would be a great time to re-start. :)

    It’s always good to figure things out by ounces too. Recently I did the math and realized that I was paying over $100/lb for arrowroot at my farmer’s market (that I can buy through Azure Standard for $3.50). It was just in such tiny amounts that I didn’t realize it. I felt so dumb! My high school Consumer Ed. teacher would be so disappointed in me! 😉

  2. Katie says

    The grocery list app I use (Out of Milk) lets you put in prices and then saves them. So I can look up items I buy to see if a sale price is cheaper than the usual price I pay.

    Although it lets you specify a unit (so, you’re entering a price for each, like .49 per apple, or you can say per pound; either way you can specify how many items or pounds of items you’re buying and it will calculate the total for all of them), it doesn’t have a good way of specifying a per ounce (or whatever) price. That sounds confusing. What I mean is, I can put in that I’m buying almonds in bulk for 3.99 per pound here or 4.99 per pound there, but if I’m comparing packages, like one store sells 12 ounces of chocolate chips and one sells 16, it doesn’t have a good way to calculate that price comparison. You have to type out the details in the notes section if you want to keep track of that, or just remember in your head how big the packages are, which clearly is a problem.

    Our Farmer’s Market is not that big and the prices are pretty homogenous, so that hasn’t been a problem. I like my app for tracking my grocery list (what I need to buy, and how much everything I need to buy will cost with tax), but I haven’t found a good way to track prices efficiently in more detail. I used to keep a handwritten pricebook and tried to do one on the computer, but it is just too much work to keep updated!

  3. says

    Katie what we need is a crowdsourcing app for grocery prices. :-) I am sure a tech geek is going to come up with that and make millions.

    For the moment I go to Whole Foods only for the organic bread which is very cheap. Guess it’s a loss leader for them. I visit the Chinese market for fresh wild caught King Mackerel and of course vegetables, mostly Asian vegetables. For spices it is always the Indian stores. It’s also good place for Lentils, Red Rice (which is better than brown rice and tastier). Not sure about nuts though. They are so expensive, but Trader Joe’s is relatively reasonable.

  4. says

    I think the Gas Buddy app does basically what you’re talking about… but how amazing would that be for a farmer’s market??? I really need to get a handle on our family’s food budget – this is a great idea. I don’t have time to shop around a ton, but I do usually go to a grocery store, health food store, farmer’s market (in season) and Sam’s Club at some point every week or so. Knowing if something is a good price would really be great.

      • casey says

        That would be great. I don’t think it would work for farmers markets because they change constantly but for something like Costco it would be great.

        When you sign up for e-meals.com you can choose a grocery store and they will print a grocery list with prices for you and depending on the store they will sometimes even tell you where the item is located.

  5. kitblu says

    It’s not exactly the same thing but I use a small notebook to record prices in the weekly flyers for foods I purchase. I usually get 1 week per page so I end up with at least a years’ worth so I can track trends – should I bother.
    I don’t know about elsewhere but in my area some grocery stores have price matching. If you bring in a flyer from another store that has a cheaper price, that store will match it. This is handy especially when the store with the sale brings in only a limited quantity. The price match is only good for 2 of the product but that is usually what I would buy anyway.

  6. Eileen says

    I used my phone camera to snap shot the price / per ounce at costco with the ingredients and transfered it over to my list. Made for an easy way to record while shopping. Look forward to seeing your list.

    • Christine says

      Great idea Eileen! I think that might be the only way I can make this happen with a baby and two toddlers along for the ride.

  7. Christine says

    Just found an app called MyRBPrices. Put a few things in to try it out. Looks okay, but I’ve never kept a price book, so I’m not sure how well it would work for that. Anyone else use an app you like for this?

  8. Brittany says

    MoneySavingMom has a customizable one-page Stock Up Price List that’s divided into categories. There’s one that already has the products in it, but there’s also one that is completely blank and you can type your own items. The only downside is that there isn’t a place to put where that lowest price is…and if you want it alphabetized, you have to do it yourself. But overall, I found it very helpful, and thought maybe someone else would too. :)

  9. Jill via Facebook says

    I really want to do this. I need to get my act together on it – but I also have a newborn :)

  10. Natalie via Facebook says

    I have the Shopper app. It lets you enter the price for the item and the store name, but not different prices for different stores. Kind of a pain at first but it works for me! Good luck!

  11. says

    I’ve been trying on and off for a few years. Now I’m determined to finish, I’m even busier now with a 6 year old, 3 year old, 2 year old, and 3 month old but they eat so much that it is driving me crazy to feed them for what I want to spend on groceries. http://moneysavingmom.com/ has some really good free worksheets to fill in for it to put in a binder.

  12. Shauna via Facebook says

    I use Menu-planner.com on my iOS devices. It also allows you to import recipes. You can add as many stores as you want. It will scan, but I don’t bother much b/c it only works well with name brands.

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