How to Make a Database of Grocery Prices

by Michael Keenan

Every week -- sometimes more often -- grocery stores print off new advertisements trumpeting their new "Biggest Sale Ever!" or "Can't-Miss Deals." Logically, you know not every week has the best deals known to mankind or deals that will never come up again. But, without a way to check to see if the prices are really that good, it's easy to get caught up in buying items you won't need for a while or paying a higher price than the best sales. However, if you create a database of grocery prices, you can quickly and easily separate the super sales from the not-so-specials.

Create a spreadsheet using a computer program like Excel that allows you to enter data in multiple columns. Using a computer spreadsheet for your database allows you to update regularly without running out of space and to keep as many records as you want without having to worry about your binder overflowing.

Create different worksheets for different categories of groceries by renaming the tabs. To rename a tab in Excel, right-click the tab at the bottom of the screen and click "Rename," then enter the category. The categories should be customized to the types of food you buy. For example, you might create different worksheets for produce, diary products, canned goods, meat and seafood. If, however, you're lactose-intolerant, there's no reason for you to keep track of milk prices.

Enter the categories of information that you want to keep track of at the top of the columns on each worksheet. For example, you should include the name of the item, the date it was on sale, the store it was on sale at, the size of the item, the total price and the unit price. For example, if the sale was $1.50 for six ounces, $1.50 is the total price and the unit price is 25 cents per ounce.

Tip

  • Bold the best sales in each category so that you can quickly see how a new sale compares to the best price you've seen. It make take a few months (or years), but if you stick to it, you can even start to predict when the best sales will be. For example, your local grocery store might have an amazing cereal sale once per year in August, so you know it's time to stock up.

About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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