Meal Planning: What IS a good deal? How do I know I'm paying the lowest price? #mealplanning #cooking #shopping

One of the best tools you can have in your arsenal for meal planning is knowing what exactly is a good deal on something. Once you know, you can easily breeze through a weekly ad circling the things you need to stock up on and/or make part of that week's meal plan because it's on sale. You'll also be able to breeze past a lot of the items they want you to think is a deal but is really just a few cents off last week's price.

So, how do you know what's a good deal?

You have to do some research and it will take some time to get through the approximate six week cycle grocers and suppliers use to put things on sale.

Here's how I did it:

Step 1: I'm a Costco member. Their prices never change. So, I took an hour on a weekend to make a list of the things we purchase most often that they offer. I jotted down the item and the price per pound or per item as I found them in the store, like this:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts $2.99/lb
80% lean ground beef $3.99/lb
Ground turkey $3.11 each (1.25lbs)
Dungeness crab $5 each
Flank steak $7.99/lb
String cheese 80ct $10.49 for the bag

Step 2: Once home, I input my data into an Excel spreadsheet for easier comparison. When the weekly ads for my local grocery stores come out, I grab my price sheet and fill in and compare the prices for those items like this:

Item:                                              Place:  Price:      Place:      Price:
Boneless skinless chicken breasts Costco $2.99/lb  Safeway  $1.77/lb
80% lean ground beef                   Costco $3.99/lb   Safeway $2.49/lb
Ground turkey                               Costco $3.11ea    Safeway Buy1Get1Free or $3.50ea
Dungeness crab                             Costco $5 ea        Safeway $3.99 ea

Step 3: I then edit my price sheet to only include the lowest price and check the ad again next week to make any price adjustments.


So I always know what is truly the lowest price of the items we purchase most often! When I'm looking at an ad or see something on sale or have a coupon for something, by looking at my spreadsheet, I know instantly if it's truly a good deal. This is the ultimate goal!

Tip: If you need an item before you can complete your research, I suggest only purchasing what you need for that week as it might go on sale or a coupon might be offered for it next week. Don't stock up unless it's at the lowest price you've found.

Item:                                               Price:       Place:
Boneless skinless chicken breasts Safeway   $1.77/lb
80% lean ground beef                    Safeway  $2.49/lb
Ground turkey                               Costco     $3.11ea    
Dungeness crab                             Safeway   $3.99ea

I do not do this for every single item in my pantry, fridge and freezer. Mainly things we buy often like meats, poultry, seafood, dairy products, canned goods, wine, and pantry staples like ketch-up, soy sauce, oils and vinegars, etc. I also do this for things like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, body wash, and razors. 

Like I mentioned above, it takes some time to figure out what is the best price for an item but it's worth it to do the research when you find more money in your wallet! ;)


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