How to Create a Price Book to Track Grocery Prices

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Create a Price Book to Track Grocery Prices

What exactly is a price book? It’s a tool used to track prices of things you commonly purchase (typically – but this can extend to clothing or other things as well) at various stores and different times and places. No savvy shopper would be caught without one. If you’ve never considered keeping a price book before, here’s why you should: you’ll be arming yourself with the knowledge you need to make informed buying decisions – avoiding the confusing marketing tactics.

Before you begin, it helps to save your grocery receipts for a month or so. That way, you’re already in possession of the itemized records of exactly what my family had purchased when, where, and how much we paid. You can also grab the store circulars from recent weeks and record that data as well.

how to create a grocery price book

Price Book Method One: The Notebook

The traditional method, the notebook method, is often what people think of when they think of a price book. A spiral bound notebook small enough to keep in your purse For most people, it works best to label the top of each page alphabetically. Include canned tomatoes on your “T” page, cereal on your “C” page and so on. Record the date of your purchase, the price, as well as the unit size of each package so you can calculate the price per ounce. Start with the 25-50 items you always buy, then move on to things you occasionally buy.  It’s best to avoid recording items you rarely buy unless you really want to make this more of a project than it has to be.


price book price book

Price Book Method Two: The Spreadsheet

With smartphones everywhere these day, I think the most efficient way for you to log your prices is using Google Docs and the Google Drive app.  I created my spreadsheet in a couple hours one afternoon. In the rows across, record the names of the stores where you shop most often. On the left column, write the name of the food items you purchase along with the unit size. In the cells where the store and the product intersect, record the price.  What I like about this method is I can make changes on my computers at home with receipts and I always have the spreadsheet handy on my phone while I’m shopping.

After you keep your price book for awhile, your outlook on begins to change.  Sometimes you will realize that advertised sales aren’t necessarily all they’re cracked up to be, and sometimes they’re not bargains at all.   You’ll be able to spot rock-bottom prices on favorite grocery items and add them to your stockpile without hesitation – knowing exactly how much to buy.

Related forum discussion:

How to keep a price book


  1. Julie says

    I use a spreadsheet, and I keep all my receipts by the computer….when the kids are napping or not fighting (like that ever happens 😉 I quickly update my spreadsheet….although, I did actually format mine to calculate the price per unit (per ounce, per diaper, per slice….) so that I can keep better track of Costco vs Save-A-Lot pricing…..

  2. Cindy says

    I do this just with a small notebook but need to be more organized with it. I also like to note what store has what price so I know when a sale comes if it is a good sale or not. I wish there was an app for the smart phone or ipod that I could use. I do use my ipod for my shopping list as I don’t have a smart phone as yet.

    • Heather says

      I totally agree with Cindy that there should be a smart phone app for keeping a price book that also allows you to compare prices between stores. Who do we talk to so we can make that happen?

  3. Andrea says

    The app “Smart Shopper” does this. You hold the iphone/pod up to it, and it will scan the bar code and tell you if it’s on sale, the usual price, and if it is cheaper in a 50 mile radius (or ever how many miles you set it to.) Amazon has one of these also.

  4. katherine says

    I think the iphone app you’re referring to is called shop savvy. Smart Shopper only calculates what you would pay when you input the % discount.

  5. Betty819 says

    With the cost of gas now days, I don’t see how it is cost effective to drive from one store to another to save a few pennies or dollars. Our nearest Target is about 9 or 10 miles, the nearest Walmart is 15 miles, We have many food chain stores close by, as well as CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens. I can’t drive from place to place and deal with getting my handicapped husband with walker in/out of the car umteem times. It’s too hard on him and myself.

    I wonder if the store that you frequent the most can pull a list of all the items you have purchased, say in last 3 months..along with price paid? It would sure help making a price list..even though prices are subject to change..


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