When it comes to budgeting, many families struggle with sticking to their food budget every month. There are lots of ways to lower your monthly grocery spend: you can save money on groceries by meal planning, eating in instead of eating out, but you can also learn how to save money at the grocery store every single time you go, no matter the store you go to, with this one simple tip!
3 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store with a Grocery Database
Want to know how I save no matter what grocery store I go to? My grocery store database. What you may not know is that all grocery stores secret shop one another, and set their prices accordingly. A follower who works for Costco actually told me they secret shop ALDI and make sure they beat their prices on KEY items. And you can do the EXACT.SAME.THING.
What is a grocery store database? It's just a running list of the products I buy most, and the prices I find them for at different stores. It helps me decide where to shop, what to buy where, and decide when a weekly special is really worth stocking up on. Read on to see how it works, and download the FREE grocery database template to start your very own at the end of this post!
Use a Database to Price Compare
At its most basic level, a grocery database helps you price compare your most frequently purchased items. The goal is to record the products you find, their price, and then translate that price into a price per unit that's comparable across stores.
Whole Foods, ALDI and my local grocery chain sell bananas at a per pound price. Costco sells 3 pounds for a fixed price. Translate them to a per pound price so you can compare like to like and easily see where you'll get the best deal.
Know When a Deal is Worth Jumping On
Any store can throw up a sign proclaiming something is a Weekly Special. But how do you know how much of a deal it really is? Is it better than what you pay for buying in bulk at the discount store? Is it so good you should flex your budget and fill your freezer for future savings?
By keeping a grocery database, you'll have a much better sense for what typical pricing is for the products you buy most... and when to jump on those deals. This is how many save money at the grocery store - buy buying big quantities when the things they regularly buy anyway can be bought at a steal and stocking up!
Save Time on Fewer Stops
A grocery database also helps you decide where to shop, and what to buy where. If the local grocery chain only offers you a good deal on 2-3 items you only buy a few times a year, skip the trip there.
Don't forget that your time can be just as valuable as your money. Making 3-4 trips a week to complete your weekly grocery run has a cost too - your time, gas and sanity. Use a grocery database to maximize your savings and concentrate your efforts.
How to Save Money at the Grocery Store
In order for your grocery database to be most effective, you have to collect and aggregate GOOD data. I could share my comparisons with you, and have as an example in the downloadable database template below, BUT be aware, the prices are really only relevant in my immediate area.
Food and grocery pricing is extremely regional, and can vary dramatically even from county to county and town to town. It's a big part of what determines the cost of living where you live. So, your best bet is to build your own grocery database using the simple method below.
Gather Your Data
You can do this in a couple of ways. Whatever your method for data collection, you want to make sure you have price, as well as the quantity you get for that price, in order to make comparable price comparisons.
- You can save your grocery receipts. The one flaw in this is the receipt won't always have all the information you need to make a complete entry in your grocery database.
- Take photos while you shop. I create albums on my phone by store. Make sure to capture the price tag, as well as any quantity or product size information.
Build Your Grocery Database
Once you've collected your data, whether by receipts or photos, enter the information into your Grocery Database. You can download the template spreadsheet to start your own at the end of this post!
Be sure to be as specific as possible, so you can make informed choices. The most important data points are to make sure you are comparing similar products on the same basis - whether it be price per pound, price per ounce, or price per item or each.
Remember you can make yourself crazy trying to find the best price on every single item you pay. To get yourself started, use the 80/20 rule to improve your efficiency and save the most. Focus on the 20% of items you buy most often that drive 80% of what you spend.
For most families, these are items like milk, meat and produce. It may also be things like your kids' lunch snacks or breakfast items. You know what you buy most often and what costs you the most. Focus there first... and you'll get the most savings for your efforts.
Get Your Downloadable Grocery Store Database Template
Ready to build your own grocery store database and discover how to save money at the grocery store EVERY time you shop? Click below to download your Grocery Database template. It includes an example with real prices from my latest trips to ALDI and Costco to help get you started.
Get the Grocery Database Template
Click below to access it from the
FREE Family Finance Mom library.
Here you will find a formatted, excel spreadsheet you can download, save and use to build your very own Grocery Price Database to help you save money at the grocery store every time you shop!
How much does your family spend on groceries every month? How do YOU save money at the grocery store?
For more great ways to save money on groceries, be sure to check out this post on Meal Planning and 25+ Ways to Save $500+. You can find all of these and more on my Save on Groceries board on Pinterest!