Before quitting my teaching job to become a stay-at-home mama in 2015, saving money was not at the top of my priority list when it came to grocery shopping. I have always been the one to do most of the meal planning and shopping, but sales were not a huge deal to me. I planned out our meals based on what sounded yummy or what new recipes I found on Pinterest. I definitely didn’t plan them around what was on sale!
Now that we are living on one income (one teacher’s income!) I am much smarter with our money. I look forward to getting the Costco Warehouse sale booklet in the mail each month, and check my email regularly for other store specials. Our local market sends “Secret Sales” to shoppers’ emails each week. You literally show the butcher the email. I feel like I’m buying beef off the black market or something!
One thing that was hard for me to get a grasp on at the beginning of my saving journey was comparing prices across stores. If I thought I saw a good deal at the grocery store, I had no way of knowing if it beat Costco prices or not.
I thought I was so smart when I made a giant price list spreadsheet. I had each item, then what they cost at Costco, Target, and Winco. Highlighted in green was the best price. Makes sense, right? I came across a few problems very quickly:
- I would never remember to bring my list with me anywhere!
- I couldn’t easily update it. (I was not going to print out the whole thing every time a price changed.)
- It was a 4 page list and annoying to page through at the store.
What a pain. Soon, I wasn’t using it at all. After a few frustrating store visits where I was unable to know if I was getting a good deal or not, I decided to try again.
Ever heard of Google drive?? For those of us with Gmail accounts, we have access to basically Microsoft Office online. You make a document (Google Doc, Google Spreadsheet…) online, save it online, and view it online. All formats are available in free apps so you can have it on your phone too! This was a game changer for me!
I created a Google Spreadsheet. I didn’t want everything I frequently buy on the same spreadsheet, so I broke it down into 4 sheets. Here is how my sheets are labeled:
- Costco Grocery
- Costco Other
- Winco Grocery
- Target Other
Here is what my Costco Grocery List looks like:
I wanted to just get a babysitter and take a trip to those 3 stores to create the ultimate list, but that didn’t happen. So I looked at some past receipts I had as a start, and now I usually just add items and their prices in at the store. As you can see, I have normal prices along with sale prices on this list. I also have a notes section. For ground beef at Costco, I have the price, but also a note telling me to just wait until our local market has their secret sale!
Now, when I’m out and about, I can check prices at other stores with a few taps of my finger. I solved all the problems of my first version:
- I always have my phone with me, so I always have my lists with me!
- I can update it at the store at any time!
- It’s all digital and and alphabetized, so it’s super easy to sort through!
If you would like to create your own Grocery Shopping Cheat Sheet, create a Google account (if you don’t already have one). Once you have an account, you have access to your Google Drive, which contains the Google versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint… The spreadsheet version is called “Google Sheets.”
Click the link below.
You will get an un-editable blank version of mine. To make it your own, simply press “File” then “Make a Copy.” You now can edit it to your liking. Enter in your favorite store names, categories, then items and prices!
Finally, download the free Google Sheets app on your phone. Now you are ready to access it anywhere, anytime!
I hope this strategy helps you as much as it has helped me! When saving money is part of your job, it’s vital to have the right tools. Having Google Sheets on my phone has been a life-saver! I never wonder if I’m getting a good deal-I know I am!
*P.S. Google Docs are super easy to share with others with Gmail accounts! I share my Price List with a friend. No reason we each have to make our own if we shop at the same stores!