Thursday, February 21, 2013

Working the Price Book Data.....Part 1

It's time to make some sense of all this data.
Here are the 6 weeks of grocery store prices....

Ground Beef...2.28/3.69  3.79/3.99   2.79/2.99   2.49/3.89  3.49/2.99  2.79/3.99
Chuck Roast....3.99/3.99  2.99/3.99     3.79/3.79   3.99/5.29  2.99/3.99  3.99/3.99
Hot Dogs....4.99/5.99  4.99/5.99    4.99/3.00   5.39/3.50  3.99/5.99  5.39/5.99
Pork....3.99/3.00  3.99/2.99   3.49/2.99   2.99/3.69  1.99/2.49  3.49/3.69
Bacon....2.98/3.50  3.99/3.50   3.99/3.00   2.98/4.00  3.50/3.49  3.99/3.50
Chicken Breast....2.99/3.09  2.99/3.49    2.99/3.99   1.89/3.29  2.99/3.19  .99/3.29
Chicken Whole.... .78/1.69  1.39/1.89    1.59/1.49   1.59/1.79  1.29/1.69  1.59/1.69
Salmon....10.00/7.99  0.00/7.99   9.99/7.99   6.99/7.99  6.99/7.99  11.16/7.99
Cheese....1.77/2.99  2.00/2.00    1.75/2.00   1.66/2.00  1.50/3.00  2.00/2.50
Butter.....3.00/3.50  3.49/3.98    2.50/2.50   3.00/3.00  3.49/3.50  3.00/3.50
Eggs....1.93/1.50  1.79/1.89     1.83/1.53   1.25/1.99  2.09/1.99  2.09/1.99
Carrots.... .90/1.00  .75/1.29    .90/1.69   .90/1.00  .75/.78  .99/1.00
Potatoes....1.48/2.50  2.99/2.99  1.50/2.00   .94/2.50  2.00/3.99  2.99/2.50
Celery.....1.69/2.59  1.99/1.89    2.99/1.50   1.49/1.50  1.99/2.50  1.99/2.59
Onion..... .49/.75  1.69/1.00  .59/1.69   1.69/.75  1.25/1.99  1.29/1.50
Salad Greens....2.50/1.95  2.50/1.85   2.50/1.85   1.99/1.85  2.50/1.85  2.50/2.50
Pasta..... .88/1.00  1.00/1.00   1.00/1.00   1.25/1.25  1.00/1.00  1.00/1.00
Spaghetti Sauce.... .88/1.00  1.33/1.25    1.50/2.00   1.66/1.50  1.00/1.25  1.00/1.25
Coffee....5.65 lb/5.12 lb  5.65 lb/4.16 lb   (4.00)5.65/4.85*   4.32/4.80  5.65/4.80  3.87/4.35
Soup Tomato...1.05/.75  1.05/1.00   .50/.69   .79/.69  1.05/.75  .79/1.00
Soup Cream....1.00/.75  1.29/1.39    .99/.75   .99/.75  .80/.99  .99/1.00
Flour.....2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19   2.00/2.19   2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19
Sugar.....2.69/2.69   2.69/2.69   2.50/2.69   2.69/2.69  2.50/2.69  2.89/2.50
Brown Sugar...1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69    1.89/1.69   1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69
Honey.....4.00 lb/3.45 lb  4.00 lb/3.45 lb    4.00 lb/3.32 lb   4.00 lb/4.00 lb  4.29 lb/3.32 lb  4.00 lb/3.43 lb
Deli Ham...5.99/7.99  4.99/5.99   4.99/7.99   3.99/5.99  4.99/7.99  4.99/4.99
Deli Provolone...7.99/8.99  4.99/8.99   5.99/8.99   5.99/7.99  5.99/5.99  5.99/7.99
Frozen Pizza...4.49/4.99  5.00/3.33   5.00/3.33   4.00/5.00  5.00/5.00  4.49/3.33
Ice Cream...3.00/3.00  2.50/3.00   3.50/3.00   2.50/3.33  3.75/3.00  2.50/3.00
Frozen Broccoli...1.88/1.50  2.19/2.00    2.09/1.25   2.15/1.59  1.33/1.25  1.33/1.50
Soda....4.99/4.00  4.00/4.00   3.66/3.25   4.00/3.00  4.99/3.67  3.50/4.00
Chips....3.00/3.00  3.00/2.50   2.15/2.15   1.88/2.15  3.50/2.00  2.15/2.15

That's a whole lot of numbers, isn't it?
Let's start breaking this down into manageable bits.

You'll notice that with some items, the prices changed every week or so, and with other items, they stayed the same for most of the last 6 weeks.

Let's look at those items that didn't vary much in price first.

These would be the FLOUR, both REGULAR CANE SUGAR and BROWN SUGAR.

Flour.....2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19   2.00/2.19   2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19
Sugar.....2.69/2.69   2.69/2.69   2.50/2.69   2.69/2.69  2.50/2.69  2.89/2.50
Brown Sugar...1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69    1.89/1.69   1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69

The flour went on sale at only Store #1, during Week 3.  It didn't go on sale at Store #2 during this cycle.

The cane sugar went on sale 2 weeks(Week 3 & 5)but only at Store #1.  The cane sugar went on sale at Store #2 during Week 6.

The brown sugar stayed the same price at both store for all 6 Weeks.  But you will notice that it is always .20¢ cheaper at Store #2.

So what conclusions can we draw from this information?
1-These items rarely go on sale so they are items you want to buy ahead when you do find them on sale, but only according to your needs.  If you only use 1 bag of flour every 3 months, don't go wild and buy 10 bags.  Baking goods tend to go on sale around the "big" Holidays--Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.  Easter is coming up so think about buying enough flour/sugar/yeast/baking soda and powders to get you to Thanksgiving, IF you have the storage space and IF you find it for a low price.
2- The flour has very low price volatility so you need not worry about finding the rock bottom price in the cycle as much.  If you use flour often(do a lot of baking, bread making), it might be wiser to figure how much you use and check out a resource where you might get it cheaper in bulk--like a warehouse store, a bulk food store or a restaurant supply store.  If you just use flour in regular "home" cooking(for sauces and the stray thickening agent), it might be just as good to buy it at the grocery store, catch the buy price and do a little stocking up on it.
3-On the cane sugar, if the data were to continue as it has, you would see a price drop at Store #1 during a week or two and then a price drop at Store #2 in the following week or so.  During a 6 week cycle,this means you would have more than 1 chance to pick this item up at lowest price.
4-The brown sugar also has very low price volatility and is always priced lower at Store #2, therefore I should always buy this item at Store #2 for a lower price.   Since I  know this price is lower at Store #2, I can now go to other grocery outlets and price out their brown sugar.  I would try Aldi and Sav-A-Lot(which have lower price points)and the Restaurant Outlet(I'd have to buy larger bags but it would be lower priced per lb.), If I find it cheaper than $1.69 2lb. bag, you know that's your buy price.
5-Now look again at the cane sugar price in Week 6.  Do you see that Store #1 has INCREASED it's price on the item?  The reg. price was $2.69 and now it's $2.89.  I will be interested to see if Store #2 increases it's reg. price this week, as stores in my tiny town tend to mirror each others prices.

In conclusion, I know my buy price on flour is $2.00 or less, on cane sugar is $2.50(or less if I can get a name brand with a coupon for lower), and on brown sugar $1.69(or less)but ONLY at Store #2(unless I see it for less at Store #1).

Now let's look at Cheese--
Cheese....1.77/2.99  2.00/2.00    1.75/2.00   1.66/2.00  1.50/3.00  2.00/2.50
The lowest price was $1.50(Store #1), the highest price was $3.00(Store #2).  That's a $1.49 difference for 8 oz. of cheese!  You will notice that Store #1 always had the lowest(or the same)price as Store #2.
The lowest price in the cycle was during our Week #5, so I should look to pick up 6 week's worth of cheese in about 4 weeks from now and/or when it goes down to $1.50 a bag again.  And unless Store #2 has a big loss leader with cheese in the next 4 weeks, I'll find the cheese buy price at Store #1.

Now let's look at Deli Ham-- 
Deli Ham...5.99/7.99  4.99/5.99   4.99/7.99   3.99/5.99  4.99/7.99  4.99/4.99
The first thing I noticed was Store #2......the reg. price was $7.99 and they brought the price down every other week $2-$3.
At Store #1, if the pattern holds, the price of Deli Ham this week should be $5.99.  I had Daughter check and it IS $5.99 this week. lol  But there is a different Deli Ham there this week that is $4.99. ;-)
At any rate, the Deli Ham is always less at Store #1, so I'll look to buy it there and at the $3.99 price, which I anticipate should be back in 2-3 weeks.

Now let's look at Ground Beef--
Ground Beef...2.28/3.69  3.79/3.99   2.79/2.99   2.49/3.89  3.49/2.99  2.79/3.99 
Meats are generally the most volatile prices in the grocery store.  They use meat as a loss leader to get you into the store and hope you buy lots of other things at not so great prices.

You will notice that every week, except for 1(Week 5), Store #1 was less expensive than Store #2.  There was a $1.71 spread in price on this item from the highest to the lowest price!

If you had bought 1 lb. of ground beef each week at these 2 Stores, you would have spent $17.63 at Store #1 and $21.54 at Store #2.  That's a difference of $3.91 just buying it every week at 1 store rather than the other.  Not even buying ahead, you would have saved money buying on demand at Store #1.

Now if you have bought 6 week's worth of ground beef(6lbs.)ahead at the lowest price in the cycle(Week #1 at Store #1), and freezing 5lbs. of it for the coming weeks, you would have spent $13.68....that's an additional savings of $3.95 over $17.63.

So take your pick.....
Spend $21.54, $17.63 or $13.68 and get the same exact items in the same exact amounts.

You saved money buying at the less expensive price weekly and you saved the most buying at the lowest price ahead.
Savings $3.95 may not seem like much, but that's just 1 item on your shopping list.  Mulitply saving $1 here or $.20¢ there for every item on your shopping list and it adds up quickly!

More later.....



  1. My favorite part of numbers - analysis! You do it awesome, Sluggy. It's very true about meats being so volatile... I swear there are stretches when no meat cut or type goes on sale, and your numbers do show that. Another thing I buy pretty much weekly is produce, and sadly, that can't be bought ahead, in bulk, and stored (that I know of), so some times I see cucumbers for $0.69/ea, and sometimes for $1.25. Frustrating, even when buying just 1!

    1. Sadly Tanner, you are right about produce. Some items if you are cooking them eventually can be frozen for later but you'd want to buy those during the Summer from a farmer to get the best price. The produce you can't freeze is the wild card. The best way to approach that part of your grocery bill is to only eat produce seasonally AND buy it when the store has it as a loss leader. That means being VERY flexible on when you eat which produce item. I got very nice Spinach last Saturday for cheap so I bought 2 big bags. Even though I wasn't thinking about Spinach for the menu this week before, it is now on. lol We did a big traditional Spinach Salad and I've been enjoying Spinach salad with strawberry viniagrette and almonds for lunch. I might saute the rest of this last bag to have with the fish on Friday.

      And I would LOVE to see a cuke for .69¢! Haven't seen one of those since last Summer..... lol

    2. Aldi's has cucumbers for 29cents this week and Publix has 1 lb radishes for 99cents. It sounds strange but I love them both together for an afternoon snack so I stocked up (as much as I can). Thanks for the price book info., I've started one.

  2. Sluggy,
    There has got to be a book, a teaching position, or something that can use your skills to teach people to save money when they shop.

    The hardest part of all this is getting started, having enough money to buy more of any one item you need for the week. I did this with my first conscious act of buying for the far future about 30 years ago. I looked at the green beans at about a third of their usual price. Wheels started turning concerning which items I could leave off my shopping list and what I could stretch until next week instead of replacing now.

    The first two or three weeks after all the green bean buying were rough. Not every week could I afford the specials in an appreciable quantity. Little by little, I started eating only food bought on sale. I even froze broccoli that I found in the grocery at an insanely low price.

    I think people on an extremely low budget might think they cannot do what you do. I started out with little and still have little money. But, even without the highly organized method you use, I still can do better than just buying what I need as I need it. I need to try your tracking method and see if I can get better and save more money.

    Even though I could not buy enough cheese to last until the next sale, I did get enough to avoid the regular prices for a few weeks. Then, I jus try to consciously eat less cheese, making it last longer. No one really needs to eat an 8 oz chunk of cheddar cheese in 24 hours, anyway!

    While I am not in a financial position to do all that you can do, I do not buy what I need for the week any longer. Okay, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables. Even some of those will last for several weeks. I even drink the sour milk if it gets a chance to sour.

    I get so excited when I can buy at the lowest price, use coupons, and buy on Wed and get the 5% senior discount! Keep up the good work.

    1. We all do what we can. Having more money means you can just do more of it.
      Just having $5 extra each week to "invest" into shopping at lowest price and stockpiling eventually adds up.

  3. great analysis of your numbers. I get it, now I have to do it.

  4. I love that you are making this easy for newbies to understand.

  5. I thought my price book was as good as it could get but you have made it so much better. We have been adding extra into our food budget that is ONLY for stock up items nothing else.

    Can't wait till I can get my garden in


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