Monday, January 12, 2009

Tip One: Buying Things on Sale

Every tightwad book or book on cheap eating will tell you that you should fill out a price-book. By having a price-book, you know what the lowest price is for anything and then you can only buy things at the lowest price. I totally agree that you should never pay full price for things - especially some things, however I have never had a price book.

I tried several times to start a price-book but have failed every time. I know that they work, I just can't make them work for me! I don't remember to bring them with me, I don't go to enough stores, the thing I really need isn't in the price book, or whatever. I finally gave up and just set some "won't go over" prices for certain items.

There are certain things that I never pay full price for: boneless skinless chicken breasts, boxed cereal, pop (Diet Dr. Pepper is my friend), cheese, canned chili, canned/jarred spaghetti sauce, boxed mixes (ie, rice-a-roni, stuffing mix, etc), ketchup, salad dressing, salad oil (vegetable or canola oil), canned fruit, and barbeque sauce. I'm sure there are a couple of others but I've forgotten them right now. When I find these things on sale for less than my "never more than" price, I buy lots!

Most of the things on that list are "extravagances" meaning they are things that we don't need, could use a substitute or could make ourselves. I could make chili instead of buying canned, but canned chili is great for those quick meals - as long as I don't spend more than 80 cents a can. I could stop drinking Diet Dr. Pepper and start drinking water (which I have vowed to do this year, just not now!), but I really enjoy it and I won't spend more than $2.75 a 12/pk.

Boneless skinless chicken breast are another example. I'm very squeamish about my meat - I like it as far away from its original state as possible. I don't want to work around bones and stuff, so I buy only boneless skinless chicken breasts. More expensive, you say? I could buy a whole chicken and cut it up, you insist? Yeah, well, it ain't gonna happen in Crazyville. I'm willing to buy the boneless skinless kind - but I won't spend over $1.89 a pound for them. When I find them for less than that I buy a bunch and Foodsaver them and throw them in the freezer. How much is "a lot?" Well the last time they went on sale for $1.49 a lb at Albertsons I bought 15 lbs worth. Yes, I could get whole chickens for cheaper, but I wouldnt use them and they would go to waste so it would NOT save me money.

That is the whole trick about buying on sale and stocking up. If you buy something just because it is a "great deal" and then let it sit on your shelf for years collecting dust or throw half of it away because your family won't eat it, it isn't that great of a deal. I only buy this stuff in multiples when I know we will use it up. I know which brand of chili we like - and only buy that one - and I have 9 cans of it in my Crazyville Food Shoppe right now!

I won't drive all around town to get these deal, either. I shop at one store, it happens to be the cheapest in town for everyday prices. I will go to the two stores nearest me if they have some crazy loss leader sale (like the $1.49 chicken breasts, or $1 boxes of cereal). But I don't end up going anywhere else very often. I just watch for stuff to go on sale and stock up when it does. Then I WON'T BUY IT AGAIN UNTIL IT GOES ON SALE! I'll do without it until I can get it under my "never more than" price. So when I find it, I usually buy a lot.

Which brings me to my next point. Where do I keep all this stuff??

Try to find somewhere in your house that you can keep an expanded pantry. Some people are lucky enough to have a good sized pantry in their kitchen. Some people have shelves in the basement,

some have shelves or cupboards in an attached garage. Some people put them in under the bed bins under the beds. Wherever you find space and it works, go for it. It will save you so much money! This system allows you to always use 79 cents a can spaghetti sauce or $1.49/lb chicken breasts. Way better than $1.99 spaghetti sauce or $3.99 chicken breasts.

This coming week, I will be posting recipes that use some of my "never more than" price items. Tomorrow it will be pasta bake using canned spaghetti sauce (that I never pay more than 89 cents a can for!). See you then!



Lynn said...

Great tips. I agree a price book is a great idea but it has never worked for me. It just doesn't work for me for the same reasons you listed.

Nancy M. said...

I've just never had the motivation to do a price list. I have been keeping old receipts, though, and they tell me how much I pay for everything.

momstheword said...

Great post. My pricebook is a little tiny memo pad that I carry in my purse. I have a pricebook folder at home that contains my pricesheets that my hubby made (but you can get them from

In the pricebook I just list the rock-bottom price of the items so that I have an idea when out shopping.

I am like you, some items I know when I should buy them. Like, I won't pay over .99 a pound for grapes. If they aren't on sale, we wait until they are and eat something else instead.

I like to buy B-less, S-less chicken because it's heathier.

momstheword said...

I have posted a link to you on my blog. I hope that's o.k.

Jane Anne said...

I have been working on a pricebook and I didn't even know it! I have never been a good price shopper- I just don't remember numbers at all. Now we are trying to be more responsible with our money and I really want to cut back on our grocery bill. I have spent a couple of weeks comparison shopping. I actually built a table and went to several stores to compare prices. I realize it is taking a lot of time and I can't/won't do that all the time. It is eye opening for me, though! I am looking forward to your recipes!

Jill said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who failed at the whole price book thing. I should have thought of having a little book that I could keep with me.


Nancy said...

No price book for me either. I seem to be able to remember prices to within a few cents on items that I buy regularly.

Excellent pantry stash! Looks like you could go a few day/weeks w/out a trip to the grocery store.

TX Doodler said...

I am soooo with you on being "squeamish about my meat" part. I've tried to buy the whole chickens & family packs of pork chops. It was more expensive & we wasted a lot. (Not to mention it made me want to be a vegetarian!) Do you find it cheaper to buy your skinless chicken breast fresh/per pound vs. buying one flash frozen bag of breasts? PS- I love your stash pantry! I'm gonna shoot for this goal in '09. (I'd never thought of stashing under the bed!)