You’re the Next Contestant on "The Price is Right!"

Recently readers asked,

I do use coupons and read all of these sites but still spend 150-200 a week at the grocery store? Any suggestions? — Jessi

I am terrible about coupons. I’m much better at frugal shopping. What are the best ways to save as a frugal shopper, without coupons? — Jenna

Both of these questions lead to the same kind of answer. In fact, the basic question here is how can we reduce our spending at the grocery store? That’s the bottom line. That’s the goal. It doesn’t matter how you get there – as long as it’s legal.

I don’t want anyone to think that she has to clip coupons in order to make ends meet. It can help, though. That is what has really helped me — when I combine them with good sales. Usually, just using a coupon isn’t going to do it. In fact, when I first tried coupons I gave up because the generic brand was usually cheaper than the name brand with the coupon. Coupons are great if it’s for something that you will use and if the price is right.

But how do you know when the price is right?

One of the best ways to save at the grocery store is to have target prices. If you have a number to shoot for, then you don’t need to wonder if something is a good deal. Some people keep detailed price books which help them track the good deals. (Read Get Rich Slowly’s post to find out more about those.)

I’ve never been successful at that. I have boxes filled with half-started price books and daytimers. I’m just not good at that.

It has got to be plain and simple for me, something that I can carry around in my head. So, I have target prices. These might not fit your lifestyle, your budget, or your local stores. But, these are the guidelines I use for determining a good deal. If the price is less than these, then I think the item is fair game, provided that I can pay cash and it’s something we’ll use within a reasonable amount of time.

fruits and vegetables – $1/#
dry pasta – $0.75/#
meat and chicken – $2/#
cereal – $0.50/box
cheese – $3/#
milk – $2/gallon
sugar – $0.40/#
flour – $0.40/#
eggs – $0.10/egg
canned vegetables and beans – $0.50/can

What target do you shoot for? Got any other advice for Jessi and Jenna? Share it in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Here is what I try to shoot for:

    fruits and vegetables – Less than $1/pd
    dry pasta – $0.75-1.00 a box
    ground chuck – $1.58 a pound
    boneless chicken- 1.99 a pound
    bone-in breasts-.89 a pound
    cereal – $0.50/box
    cheese – $2.00 for 24 slices
    milk – $2/gallon
    sugar – whatever Aldi’s price is!
    flour – whatever Aldi’s price is!
    eggs – $1.00 a dozen
    canned vegetables and beans – $0.50/can

  2. fruits & vegetables- less than $1/#
    Dry pasta-$1 or less per pkg
    meat/chicken-$2/#
    cereal-$2 or less per box
    cheese – less than $3/8oz (I usually can get it for 1.77 or 2.77)
    milk (organic)-$3 or less per 1/2 gallon
    sugar/flour-$2 per 5lb bag
    eggs-$1/dozen
    canned veggies,etc -$0.50 per can

    Cereal where I live (rural AZ) is very expensive. I would LOVE to find some for 50 cents a box! Even w/ a coupon that's tough for me.

    I find that alot of coupons are for processed food, which is usually expensive. The more whole foods we can eat, the better. It sure helps to make whatever you can from scratch.

  3. Christina says:

    A couple of suggestions would be, revamping your dinner recipes. Look at how much you’re spending on dinners alone. Are there high priced ingredients you can do without or substitute? Is there anything you can make from scratch rather than buy? Is there anything you can make in bulk rather than buy prepackaged items? (ie: buy some water bottles then fill them with juice, water, etc rather than buying juice boxes, bottled water, etc for on the go; make carrot sticks rather than buy baby carrots; shred a block of cheese rather than buy pre-shredded cheese; etc.)

    If you don’t want to use coupons a lot, you could just pick a few things to use them for. Start with diapers and wipes or a brand name you “just have to have”.

    Good luck!
    Christina
    http://www.recessionproofshopping.blogspot.com

  4. my biggest money saving tip is to make a meal plan that uses main ingredients that you already have.

    leave out the other ingredients if they aren’t important and put anything that is important on your grocery list. don’t buy anything not on your list.

    then if you want to use coupons, sort through your coupons and see if you have coupons for anything on your list. make sure to compare the brand name price with the coupon to the store brand price without a coupon before deciding which to purchase

  5. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    I always look for boneless skinless chicken breast at under $2.00/lb, because I know I can get it for $2.20 at Costco and the breasts are all pretrimmed (which save me time). If I’m going to buy it elsewhere it has to be under the $2 mark. This week they are on sale for $1.69/lb so I will get a few.

  6. Heather says:

    I’m somewhat of a newbie too, so these are great helpers. I’ve never thought of setting a price, I just try to wing it at the store. I have been buying what’s on sale and using coupons on these items.

  7. Mary Ann says:

    I never have been able to maintain a price book either. I have tried to set a target price for a number of things. I use a small notebook that I keep in my purse that I just put the lowest regular price of an item in. Most of these lowest prices happen at either Aldi or Sam’s Club. I could not remember what I was paying for cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream and a bunch of other things. This kind of price book is simple enough that I can use it and it actually helps. When I’m combing the sales flyers, I can immediately tell whether or not it’s a good stock-up price or not.

    I love coupons but I will admit that I use more on personal care and non-food items than actual food. It’s possible to save money without being a super-couponer! Whatever I get free (shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.) at CVS or Walgreens leaves more room in the budget for quality whole foods. I use some coupons, shop the sales and know where the lowest price is on staple items. I also cook from scratch. This saves me quite a bit every month.

  8. FishMama says:

    Great suggestions, everyone. Thank you!

  9. Thank you so much for your price lists! I have been struggling to keep a price log for a while now, and like you, have half-used notebooks. It’s was frustrating to leave something unfinished but things kept changing and I couldn’t keep up! :)

    Having a mental “target price” is much easier for me. Glad to see there are others like me! :D

  10. Shannon Sikes says:

    My general price list for stocking up is:
    Fruits and Veggies = $1/#
    Bonless Skinless Chicken breast = $1.67/# or less
    Bone in chicken = $.99/# or less
    Ground Beef = $1.49/# or less
    Chuck Roast = $2.49/lb or less
    Cereal = $1.67/box (aldi price) or less
    Dry Pasta = $.89/box or less
    Milk = $2/gal
    Eggs = $1/doz

  11. kleiosbelly says:

    because i’m completely anal, i made a chart in word, organized by grocery store aisle, with the items i regularly buy and the lowest prices i have paid for each. took some time to set up but for me it was worth it, esp. since it helps me remember what to look for when i’m making my list (such as, i always forget to check the flour and sugar bins to see if they are low).

  12. Carrie says:

    Very useful post. I linked to it in my 30 Quick, Green and Frugal Meal Planning Resources list.

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  2. [...] the Miserly Mom recommends otherwise, I have never been great at keeping a price book. But I do keep a mental list in my head of what price is a stock-up [...]

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