One of my all-time favorite frugal authors, Amy Dacyczyn (I went to link to her Wikipedia entry – can you believe there isn’t one yet?), has long reccomended maintaining a price book for groceries. I tried keeping a paper version before, but it was a real pain in the neck to keep up-to-date and organized in a way that I could actually use. Attempts to use Excel to keep the data organized never really got off the ground. But I recently came across this Grocery Price Book Spreadsheet at Sean Payne’s Uncommon Way to Wealth website which looks more user friendly than anything I’ve seen before. What I like about it is the ability to quickly calculate a per weight/unit cost as well as the per serving cost.
When I’m ready to go shopping, I can easily print out the price book pages organized by aisle so I can tell at a glance if the price has gone up, down or stayed the same. And when I want to calculate the cost of a meal or recipe, it’s very easy for me to determine how much the individual ingredients (i.e., a single banana, a teaspoon of vanilla, etc.) cost.
Now I know that a cup of homebrewed Trader Joe’s coffee costs me 22 cents (including cream and sugar!). I always knew that it was less expensive to make coffee at home than to go to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, but I didn’t realize it was such a huge difference. I’m definitely looking forward to using this price book spreadsheet in the future.