I came across a concept for a "price book" in a book called Early Retirement Extreme (which I highly recommend for extreme frugalists). A price book is a list you create yourself that simply lists the lowest prices of any food you see on sale. And being the frugal shopper you are, you try to only buy that food item when you see it listed at that price.
Preferably, when you see your item at your lowest listed price, you buy enough of it to last you a long, long time.
All kinds of food bargains are out there, if you are an eagle-eyed shopper. There are two for one specials, markdowns, loss leader markdowns and specials mentioned in circulars or from a business' website.
My husband had been doing this in a small way for years. He eats a lot of chocolate chip cookies, from a certain brand. He only buys the cookies when they are on sale for a certain price, and then he buys pretty much all the items on the shelf. That lasts him for months. Since he eats these regularly, and they don't go bad within that time period, he saves a lot of money.
I recently started keeping my own price book. It's a small $1 notebook that fits in my purse (picked up at the dollar store). I just write down the best prices I see on the food items I use the most. Using pencil is helpful; you can scratch out an old price whenever you find a better one. I also add where I found that lowest price, just for my own records (ie - Safeway, Trader Joes, Costco, Whole Foods, Publix). I also write down the size of the item, since that does make a difference in savings.
Examples of recent price book savings -
- I found a "buy three, get one free" special on boxes of Special K Protein Plus cereal at Vons.
- I only buy my preferred brand of cat food when my local ALCO emails me their monthly "30% off one item" coupon.
- If you are not extremely picky about your wine, there can be awesome specials of decent brands at Trader Joes, grocery stores and even local liquor stores, when they try to clear out a brand to make room for something else. I can frequently find a brand that normally sells for 8 or 9 dollars on sale for 2 or 3 dollars. At most grocery stores, if you buy six bottles of wine, you get another 10% off all of them. So in these cases i can buy 12 bottles of wine for a wonderfully low price, get an extra 10% discount, and be set for quite some time. :)
- Keeping on eye out on dented can stores, grocery outlets and dollar stores can be fruitful. If your dollar store gets a shipment of hot chocolate mix or something you know you use often, stock up for the year. Things come and go in these stores, so take full advantage of what you find. I usually get all my canned beans, breakfast bars, tortillas, soups and pasta at these places.
- Plenty of food storage - You will need to ensure you have enough room to store lots of food if you want to fully take advantage of good prices. Make storage out unlikely places, such as under the beds, in the back of bedroom closets, in crawl spaces (cans do well there) and cabinets under the stairs.
- An awareness of what you eat regularly - Don't stock up on things you don't eat much. You don't want to clutter your cabinets - you want to shop smart and save money.
- Making an effort to eat your supplies before they go bad - Again, think about non-perishable food for your larder. If you do see a sale on produce or other short-term foods, think about ways to stock up and preserve said foods.
- Try a price book for sundry non-food items you use regularly! This theory works for buying batteries, mailing supplies, duct tape, office supplies, laundry detergent, window cleaner, oil for your car, and anything else that you know you use on a regular basis.
Helpful Amazon Resources -