Comparison shopping can help you save a bunch of money on groceries. Keep reading to learn how to comparison shop while buying groceries.
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Welcome to week one of the money-saving grocery shopping challenge! I’m so glad you’re here participating in this challenge with me. If you missed the introduction to this challenge and what to expect, you can find that here.
This week we are going to learn about how to compare prices between brands at the grocery store as well as compare prices of items between different grocery stores.
We all know that food is one of the biggest chunks taken out of our budget. But…we all have to eat!
No matter how many coupons you use or how many items you scan into Ibotta, you’re still going to pay way too much on groceries if you’re not shopping at the right store.
However, there is a way to save a lot of money on groceries – although it may take a little bit of your time.
How to comparison shop between stores to save money on groceries
Prices can vary greatly between brands as well as between stores. With just a little bit of effort and time, you can create a price book to compare prices and learn which store has the cheapest price.
I have a grocery price list worksheet that you can print to get you started.
How to track your purchases:
- Check prices online: Most grocery stores have prices online now, making it easier to find item prices and compare. Just pull up the sites of the grocery stores closest to you. Enter the items you buy frequently into the search bar of all the grocery store sites. Write down the prices of the item from each store to compare.
- Save your receipts: Another easy way to track your purchases to help you comparison shop easily is to use your receipts. Save the receipts from the grocery stores you shop at frequently and write down the prices of the items you buy most in your price book.
- Go the old fashioned route: Or, you can comparison shop the old fashioned way and write down the prices of items as you walk down the aisles of the grocery store.
How to use the price book worksheet to comparison shop and save money
There are many ways to create a grocery price book. I prefer a much simpler method that I can just quickly look at to compare prices. The prices I have written above are regular, non-sale prices.
Here’s an explanation of how to use the grocery price book worksheet that I shared with you:
- First, track only the items you buy the most of.
- Make a list of all the staples you always have on hand, such as meat, veggies, bread, milk, etc.
- Stick with the stuff you always have on hand. Don’t worry about the extras you buy once in a while.
- Don’t include items you buy in bulk, such as toilet paper. If you’re purchasing those at a warehouse club store, then more than likely you’re already getting the best price.
- Choose your stores.
- At the top of the chart, write down the names of the stores you normally shop at.
- Write down the prices.
- This is where most of the hard work comes in. As I mentioned above, you can search prices at your grocery store’s online site, use receipts to track your purchases or keep track of the prices while you’re in the grocery store.
- Figure out the unit price of the items and write those in the space below the grocery store’s name. Since each grocery store sells items of different sizes, it’s essential to know the price per unit at each store.
- To figure out the unit price of an item, divide the price by the unit of measurement. For example, $24.99 divided by 20 pounds gives you a total of $1.25 per pound. (more info below)
- Compare prices
- Once you have all the prices listed, you can easily see which store has the best price on the items you purchase the most.
- As you can see in my price list above, Kroger has the best price on ground beef and Walmart is the winner on milk. And if there’s a sale as well as a coupon, then that brings the price even lower!
Keep in mind that my grocery shopping price list worksheet is a lot simpler than most. If you want to create your own with more details to help you comparison shop, then I would include these key items:
- Size (oz, lb, product count, etc.)
- Price per unit
Why is unit pricing so important?
I mentioned above that knowing the unit price is key when comparison shopping. Why is the unit price so important to know? Items with the lowest price are not always the best deal. Knowing the unit prices of items can save you a lot of money on items you buy all the time. This goes for other items, too. It’s not limited to just groceries.
Unit pricing lets you compare two different types of the same item by using a common unit of measurement. This helps tremendously when you’re trying to buy something in bulk. And it will help you find the best deal on just about anything.
To figure out the unit price, you’ll first need to find the common unit between items, and in most cases, it’s the “ounce”. Then you just simply divide the cost of the item by the number of units (or ounces).
Example: You’re at the grocery store looking for a bag of frozen corn for dinner. There’s a 10-ounce bag from Brand A that costs $1.50. And there is a 6-ounce bag from Brand B that is $1.20. That bag may look cheaper, but is it really? Let’s see.
- Brand A = $1.50 divided by 10 ounces = 15 cents per ounce
- Brand B = $1.20 divided by 6 ounces = 20 cents per ounce
Looks like Brand A is the better price!
How to comparison shop between brands to save money
If you live in a small town and only have one grocery store to shop at (like we used to), then you can still save money by knowing how to comparison shop between brands.
Generic brands have come along way over the years making them just as good (if not better) than name-brand. Their ingredients are almost the same and the nutrition list compares similarly as well. And sometimes the store brand is healthier. Plus, the food is just as good quality-wise as brand-name. Yet most generic brand prices are a lot cheaper.
For example, a 16-ounce box of Kroger brand spaghetti is 49 cents cheaper than the brand-name Barilla.
And a 24-ounce jar of Ragu pasta sauce is $1.79 compared to the 24-ounce Kroger brand, which is only $1.49.
If I’m having meatless spaghetti tonight for dinner and I buy the generic brands, I’m only spending $2.49. Compared to the $3.28 total of the brand-names. That’s a savings of 79 cents! If you have meatless spaghetti once a month, that’s a total savings of $9.48 a year.
Is generic always cheaper?
Not necessarily. Especially if the brand-name item is on sale and you have a good coupon. In some cases, you can actually get the brand-name items cheaper than the store brand. That’s why it’s always best to compare prices! Also, search the sales ads to see what brand name items are on sale and if you have a coupon to stack with the sale.
Best items to buy generic
Sometimes, certain generic brand and brand-name items have the same ingredients. And in some instances, they’re even made in the same location! Here are some of the best items you should always be buying generic, especially if you’re serious about saving money.
- Create a price book to easily compare prices. This allows you to quickly see which store has the best price.
- Only keep track of the items you always have on hand.
- Track the unit price to see the best price. To find the unit price, simply divide the cost of the item by the number of units it has in it.
- The generic brand isn’t always the best price. Check for sales and coupons for brand name items.
Next week we’ll be focusing on meal planning and how it can help you save money on groceries!
Do you have any tips and tricks to share about how you comparison shop to save money on groceries?