How to Comparison Shop to Save Money on Groceries
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?
28 thoughts on “How to Comparison Shop to Save Money on Groceries”
Thank you, Michelle! This was an informative and thorough post. I have a bad habit of just grabbing what I need and not looking at the price. Then I am always shocked by the grand total I am paying at the checkout. This will help me to be more attentive to prices and make better choices.
What great tips, I especially like this I never looked at it this way
Brand A = $1.50 divided by 10 ounces = 15 cents per ounce
Brand B = $1.20 divided by 6 ounces = 20 cents per ounce
You have some really great advise here. xoxo
I use to be so bad at only choosing the name brand. I think it was how I grew up. But now I don’t even think about choosing a generic brand. Most times they actually are better. Awesome tips, Michelle! Pinning so I can start this weekend!
Excellent post, Michelle: things our grandparents taught us still ring true, today.
You’re so right about the generic products not always being cheaper. I’ve noticed that more than a few times. Some great and practical advice and techniques to save money on the essentials. Thanks, Michelle.
I always do!
These are some great tips Michelle! Looking at the unit price is so helpful, especially when, as you said comparing prices. It also helps you see if that ‘value size’ is really a value…. Tweeted and pinning to my Financial Wellness board. Thanks for sharing this information!
This post definitely makes me want to take extra time to find the best price. Thanks so much for this informative post. It’s really helpful! Hugs, CoCo
Always nice to be reminded of this! Thank you!
You’re welcome! 🙂 Thank you for reading!
We have lots of money-off specials with loyalty cards here. Always worth looking out for.
That’s great! I wish we had more ways to save here. Stores are getting strict with their coupon rules now.
Inevitably, if I shop for groceries anywhere other than Aldi’s, I pay a higher prices. It may be a few pennies, but it adds up! Granted, Aldi’s doesn’t have as much variety, but shopping there keeps me from impulse buying (another way to save!).
That’s great that you can save at Aldi’s. I think some grocery stores have way too many choices and it can get overwhelming. So not having much variety is helpful in some ways. 🙂
I compare prices a lot too and another thing I do is to go with a list of what I need to get. And say no to the desire to buy outside the list unless it’s needed and I forgot to list it out. ?
That’s a great idea! Not buying outside the list saves a lot of money. There are a lot of temptations on the end of the aisle at the grocery store. Good for you for sticking to the list! 🙂
Great tips Michelle, and I really appreciate all the time and effort you’ve put into this! Many thanks!
Thank you so much! I’m glad it’s helpful. 🙂
These are great tips, Michelle! I know my supermarkets by heart and what I like to buy at each store.
Thank you so much! That’s great that you know exactly what you like to buy at each store. That makes shopping quick and easy! 🙂
Have you ever thought about doing a YouTube channel?
My wife watches these ladies clean their homes and make crafts to decorate their homes. And shes fascinated by it! Lol! Come to find out, stuff like that is pretty big right now. ??
Just a thought…. if you started I know it’d be viewed!
I’ve thought about it but I just can’t get up the nerve to be on camera! I don’t know why that’s so scary to me. LOL!
Aww…thank you for your support and kind words!
Probably the same reason I don’t like posting pictures of myself lol!
I’m sure you can do it!
Unit pricing is so important!!! I use this all the time!!
Great info here Michelle!!
Thank you so much!
Such a detailed approach. This is very cool, I will definitely use your advices, I always wanted to be able to save wisely.
Thank you! I’m so glad you found it helpful.