Stores have all kinds of tricks to encourage us to spend more money. One of them is marking items with special “sale” tags or quantity discounts like 3 for $5. The only way to tell if the item is actually a good price is to know what the item usually costs. A price book can help you do that.
Keeping a price book is simple. All you need is a small notebook where you can record the price you pay for commonly purchased items. You can refer to the book to determine if a deal will actually save you money and track which grocery stores tend to have higher and lower prices. A price book can include as many items as you like or just the staples you buy frequently. For example, I keep a list of prices for the items I buy every week like apples, milk, chicken breasts and string cheese. Knowing the usual price for these staple items allows me to spot a good deal really easily and helps me recognize when a deal is actually just a gimmick.
Click out our video below for a simple guide to starting a price book and start saving today!
Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.
WOW, one of the grocery stores is advertising 17+ different fish deals in their ad this week…someone must be thinking Lent. To sort it all out, I converted the prices into price per pound and then put them in order from the least to the most expensive per pound.
My fish list told this story:
Buying in bulk saves money.
Breaded fish usually costs less—that’s because you are paying for breading and fat instead of fish.
If you want the convenience of someone packaging your fish into serving sizes, cooking it, or stuffing it you pay more—sometimes a lot more!
Canned tuna is not the least expensive fish.
Most fish are low in fat and cholesterol and a good source of protein, which makes them a good choice for a healthy diet. Oil-rich fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines, are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to our diet and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
So what am I going to buy? I don’t need the extra calories and fat that comes with the breaded fish, but I can’t use 10 pounds of Pollock either. I will probably buy a couple of packages of the imitation crab meat which is Pollock that has been processed and flavored. I’ll use it to make a sandwich filling or add it to pasta salad. Since the shrimp price is good for that size shrimp, I’ll buy a pound to keep on hand for a super fast, no work appetizer. Although it is not advertised, I bet I can get a pound of Pollock for under $2.50/pound which I will bake in the oven with some seasonings and bread crumbs. I am going to keep looking for a good price for salmon.
What’s better? What’s cheaper? Canned tuna or salmon?
We checked out costs in central Iowa last week. Cost per ounce varied from
$.10 for chum salmon in a 14.5-ounce can to $.86 for “Smoked Alaskan Pacific Wild Caught Salmon” in a foil package.
Spend Smart Tips • Avoid the foil packages—those started at .38 per ounce.
• Note that individual serving cans (3-ounce) cost twice as much per ounce as the regular (5-ounce) cans.
• Both canned salmon and tuna provide good amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and since they are canned, sodium. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.