Knowing Your Prices Is The Key To Saving Money On Your Grocery Bill

sale prices

Today I’m going to help those of you who want to save money in your grocery budget by posting your shops in The Grocery Game Challenge. I’m going to talk to you about the Importance of Knowing Grocery Prices.

Knowing your prices, and knowing them well is the best way to get more bang for your buck in the budget. This is not going to happen over night, this takes a lot of practice and a consistent weekly effort to perfect your grocery shopping.  I still don’t  have it perfected but I’ve learned a lot and still learn every time I shop.

I’m going to use Whiskas Cat food as a great example.

  • Walmart Regular Price is $6.99 for a 1.5 kg. It does go on sale for $6.49.
  • No Frills Regular price is $6.49 for the same 1.5 kg bag.

Did you know how long it took me to figure this out? About 4 months.  I was so hung up on Flyer Watching and buying items on sale, thinking  the sale price is The Price to Watch for.  I wasn’t engaging in comparison pricing of “Regular Prices” at each store.

This is where I suggest for your to start. Take the basic necessities – the stuff you run into the store for more than 1x a week.

Write down the following: As these prices vary between towns/provinces

  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Butter/margarine
  • Eggs

Then each time you’re in a different store check on the prices of these items. Don’t be scared to look at Drug Stores, or even your local gas station. It may be one of their “Loss Leader Home Drivers” to get you to come into their store.

Write the prices down in a small notebook that you can carry with you. When you find a better price ,cross it out, and add the new price. You must also mark down if the item is a clearance item or flyer buy. Typically a flyer price you will be able to find at a later time.

I’ve previously purchased cereal for $1.00 on clearance, but I can’t say “from now on, I’m only going to only purchase cereal for a $1.00”. I may be waiting a long time in between finding that deal again and it’s simply not realistic to use that price as a standard. Even if that’s the “BEST Price” you have found it at you may never see it again.

When it comes to cereal the Average Sale Price is around $2.99, but once in a while you’ll find it on sale for $2.49 or 2 for $5.00 (This would potentially be the Best Price) So depending on your shopping habits, you can decide to stock up when the price is cheaper than $2.99.

A Shoppers Drug Mart store on Dupont Street in...
A Shoppers Drug Mart store on Dupont Street in Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tip: Don’t Only shop off your flyers! 

Below is where I will typically shop to pick up the Best Prices.

  • Milk – $4.43 at Shoppers Drug Mart for a 4L of 1% Dairyland.
  • Bread – $2.00 I’m not brand orientated and will buy bread at $1.99 anywhere it’s on sale or not. If it’s cheaper I’ll buy extra, or if I have a coupon. (I will only freeze up to 4loaves at a time)
  • Butter – $2.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart for In house name “Everyday Market”. Regular price, and rarely advertised.
  • Eggs – $1.99 per dozen at Shoppers Drug Mart. Regular price -Limited to 4 per purchase. Again this is regular price.

So now I know where to shop for these every day items and for the best price. Who would have thought that Shoppers Drug Mart would be the cheapest place to purchase these items.  (These are for the stores that I have near me…..Your store and price list may be different from mine)

Example of another product that I found cheaper than regular price is……..

Cheese Whiz –  No Frills Reg Price $9.19………. I found the same size at Value Drug Store for $6.99 an Everyday Price …..On sale for this week for $5.99 where the Friday past it was $4.99. A very steep difference in the price for a product that is virtually identical.

Knowing product prices will in effect make it easier to watch the flyers and shops for deals. You may not be tempted to buy butter on sale for $3.49 when you know you can get it cheaper somewhere else for reg price.

Perhaps since I know the best price for butter in my area is Shoppers Drug Mart I will only purchase it there unless I find it cheaper.

Have you ever ran out of an item and had to send your spouse out to pick it up?

Knowing the cheapest shop to send your spouse on these spur of the moment jaunts is important so you don’t cringe when he comes home with an overpriced item.


Cleaning Supplies


These are items we don’t buy on a weekly basis, and perhaps sometimes it’s a little harder to know prices when starting out off the top of your head.

This is why it’s so important to be mindful of the pricing of specific products. You also want to watch for weight, size, litres, portions etc.. as this will all make a difference in pricing of any product you wish to purchase.

Fantastic Spray– Regular Price at Wal-Mart is $3.27 with a typical sale price of $2.99. At Shoppers Drug Mart Regular Price is $5.99 and will go on sale for $3.99 …… (So obviously not a good buy at flyer price) When the Best Price is $2.99 on sale, paying the extra $0.27 at Wal-Mart any day of the week is best if you need the product right away.

Some people enjoy Price Matching so they don’t have to go from shop to shop or might not have many shops in their city. Time+ Gas = $MONEY$ and are all very important factors when planning your shopping trips.


Seasonal Buys 


Suntan lotion: Variety of brands Regular Price $11.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart, Wal-Mart $10.99 regular. Plenty are on sale for $9.99 and I have seen them as low as $7.99 at Extra Foods.

Washer Fluid – Awesome buy is $1.99 per 4 litre bottle.

Pop/Chips – It’s Summer time and with all the BBQ parties and camping trips happening pop and chips go hand in hand.  This week Wal-mart has 24 pks of pop for $6.97 or $3.49 per case of 12. I’ve seen pop on sale for $2.99 per case of 12 so that would be the ultimate time to stock up.

Tip: Do watch your expiry dates as there’s nothing worse than flat pop.

Chips always go on sale 2 for $5  and even cheaper if you keep an eye out depending on the brand you enjoy.

Flyer Shopping – Everything that is in the flyer today will be on sale again in 3 months time as products have a cycle time. Flyer Prices always vary store to store so don’t get upset if you don’t always find what you are looking for. What’s in one flyer this week potentially could be offered cheaper next week at a different store.


Types of Prices


3 different price points you should know 

  • Best Every Day  Price – Only on Items such as HIGH NEEDS – milk, bread, eggs, pet food, baby needs). If you ran out and had to buy these items (This moment – you don’t have a flyer with you, and you’re in a crisis – where would you send your spouse ?
  • Average Sale Price – So you can justify what a Low Price is.(buy if you run out, while waiting for the best price.
  • Best Price – so you can stock up on these items at the best price.


What Regular Prices should you  know off top of  your head?

Milk, bread, butter/margarine, eggs, meat per pound or kg, and fruits/veggies. Don’t forget about Pet food and baby needs ( diapers, formula, wipes)  if they apply to your household.

Everything else  you will simply have to keep track of Sale Prices through weekly flyers. Know the difference between an “Average Sale Price” and a “Best Price” by keeping track of your spending. Prices will come to you with time and writing down your shops or by playing The Grocery Game Challenge will encourage pricing education.

Instead of Changing how you shop 100% today, taking baby steps will lead to permanent changes little by little.

Check out this FREE Grocery Price book for even more help to save you money.

Guest Contribution: Theresa Bruce runs Canadian Free Stuff and has been helping Canadians save money since 1999, by providing free samples, coupons, and free contests to enter.



Photo Credits:123rf

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  1. I don’t watch the price on everything but I do keep an eye out on the things we buy regularly. Those prices I’ll have a better idea of, especially with prices going up every time you turn around. This helps with stocking up on basics, if the sale is a good price I’ll buy more than if it’s a soso price. I don’t have access to the big stores like SDM or Walmart unless I go out of town, but I have found that the store across the street is a little cheaper for the most part than that big store out the east end, selection isn’t as good but it works for me. Plus I don’t need to drive there saving money on gas. All in all this was a very good article and food for thought.
    PS as for Chez Whiz I we go through a lot of it and I lucked out as it was $3.99!! a couple of weeks ago across the street so I bought I think 7 jars of it.over a couple of trips in… beats paying $6.99 as that is the regular price there right now.

  2. I’m pretty good with knowing my prices. We are in the stores frequently picking up sales and fresh produce. The one grocery store in town usually has the best price on meat and produce, while their price for milk and canned items tend to be expensive, while another has the best prices for cereal and another for canned items…good thing we live in a small town orthe saving we get would be eaten up by gas 🙂

    1. When I moved to Canada I was rubbish at knowing any prices. Mrs.CBB had to teach me from the ground up. In the UK I knew it all. I was a smart shopper and even participated in focus groups and hand held devices where I input my shops for points where I get gift cards, cd’s dvd’s etc. Now I’m proud to say I’m fine with knowing Canadian Grocery Prices but learn something new everytime I go! Cheers Vicki. Mr.CBB 😉

  3. Its very important to know your prices. Just because it says ‘sale’ at the store doesn’t mean much. If we didn’t keep track of prices, we’d never succeed with our $100/month/person grocery budget

    1. Hey there Brian, Thanks for your comment. I’ve been trying to get the point across as much as possible to my fans who scour the ads to do price matching and using coupons. This guest post was perfect to explain the difference and I hope it’s made a difference to some of my fans. thanks for your comment… and please post your weekly shop in The Grocery Game… would love to see how you make out with your $100 per person budget… you can post no matter where you live in the world but the monthly contest is for Canadians only. The point of the game is to be mindful of shopping habits and budget. Lots of posters have significantly dropped their budget just from typing it out and hearing me whisper in their ear ha! Cheers Mate.. Mr.CBB

  4. Awesome post! This is definitely a way to maximize cost-savings when using coupons. A lot of consumers who don’t know the prices of certain items are fooled into thinking they are getting a great deal on the BOGO promotions but the store has actually hiked up the price on the item to make up the difference. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I agree but for those that aren’t so much into ‘saving money’ or following prices like some may think it’s a stellar deal. I don’t even bother with those BOGO event…. Thanks for commenting. Mr.CBB

  5. Awesome post! Coupons can definitely be more effectively when you know your prices so that cost savings can be maximized! Some stores will try to offer a BOGO promotion and hike up the price tricking the consumer into thinking that they are getting a deal. That is why it is important to know what you are really spending!

  6. Do you have any standards to the quality of the food, or is it just price you watch for? If I see bread on sale for $1.99 but it is full of crap, I would happily pay $4 for Silver Hills bread, or even $5 for Eziekiel bread from whole foods. Saving $2 but eating a bunch of bleached white flower, lard, and “natural flavour” is not a smart investment to me.
    Usually when I see canned food or cereal on sale for $1 it’s processed food with MSG or cereal high in white sugar.

    1. Hi Troy,
      It all depends on the person’s grocery budget and what they can afford. Some families are unable to purchase such luxury foods like Silver Hills which may cost more than normal whole grain or white bread but I do understand what you are saying. We buy what’s best for us and what we enjoy,I would like to think we are both athletic and fuel our bodies with healthy fruits,grains,lean protein,vegetables and legumes. plenty of water and vitamins and occasionally ,mainly the weekend splurge one day.

      Personally we purchase our food on sale, with price matching, at the market, or on the reduced rack… anyway we can save we will do it but still eat healthy on a budget of $190 so yes it is possible. If someone wants to eat all organic food they can do the same all you need to do is stick to a budget.. There is a misconception that people who use coupons buy all crap food which is just that a misconception. I agree there are many coupons that you can buy pre packaged items, foods, etc but not all.

      We’ve purchasd fresh fruit,veg, health drinks, bread (silverhills) with coupons…. Some families have no choice and sometimes they are simply blessed to put any food on the table. Do you buy all organic foods? What is your monthly food budget?
      Cheers Mate..

      1. No, I don’t buy all organic. I guess my point is that I get sad when I go to Walmart and see families fill their carts with the cheapest food there is. It is usually the sugary processed foods made by big companies that can afford these super low prices as loss-leaders. The kids often look so overweight and unhealthy. Getting a deal is a blessing and one should always be on the lookout for it. Sometimes buying the cheapest food isn’t really a deal in the long run though.

  7. I downloaded a nice little pricebook/spreadsheet thing to keep track of these sort of prices (can keep track of weight/unit/price and it sorts out price per unit and such) but I have been slacking with entering stuff on it. I need to get on that again, my mother seems to have a filing system in her head for what everyone sells stuff for but I lack that ability.

  8. this rang so true for me yesterday! Im now looking at my receipt from Shoppers and I have to laugh – its telling me before coupons I saved 28.20! Looking at the regular price of these items at other stores I would have saved ten dollars maximum! Its amazing the difference of regular price items can be at different stores. Its taken me a while and Im still not super good at knowing my prices but Im getting better. Im learning to divide the price by how many units your getting (especially with toilet paper!) and so many great communities to go to to ask questions if this is a great deal, never be afraid to ask!! Great read, thanks for sharing.

    1. It’s funny how we notice the little things. That was the point exactly… so how much did you really save? Are you will to figure it all out or at least try…. probably not because the number will never be true unless you have master lists of all reg priced items at the shops.. likely what Theresa is putting together. I would use what she has a guide to learning and educating myself on the prices of items but personally I won’t be tracking That. What I do track is the amount of money I save by handing in coupons because it doesn’t matter if you use it on a Best Price or Reg Price it’s money you didn’t have to take out of your budget. This is a true number. Hope that helps. Mr.CBB

      1. perhaps one to keep track of all the prices and it would tell me average sale and best price based on what i input. much like a spreadsheet, but one i don’t have to set up!! Most of the grocery apps don’t work with canadian stores anyways, i’m probably better off creating my own spreadsheet.

        1. It would make sense to have that as an app, I bet alot of people would use that… I’m not well versed with apps as I don’t have a fancy phone.. just one of the old phones with call and text… don’t laugh…

  9. Some great tips to keep in mind on future shopping trips. I have never thought to look to Shopper’s Drug Mart for food items, as I have always thought of it as being an expensive store. I’ll have to reconsider now. Will have to start keeping price lists now to figure out the best regular pricing as suggested. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Joanna,
      We always get our milk,eggs and butter for the most part at Shoppers unless the milk is on sale somewhere else and we have a coupon. We also get our sugar at SDM most times during 20x points events. We learned early on the prices at all the stores in our area, not bad for a bloke who a few years back had no idea what the cost of anything was in Canada. Mr.CBB

  10. Great post! People often forget about everything you mentioned! I tend to do a lot of price matching and I do almost all of my shopping at RCSS which I know can be priced a tad higher but I use my MIL’s discount which can even out any differences. Things like baby bottle liners I will go out of my way to Walmart because they’re always way cheaper there.

  11. great post, very informative! I also try to match my coupons to the flyer’s, that’s when you REALLY save:) Who’s going to pay $9 for cheese whiz at one place, when they can get it somewhere else for $7? Not me!!!!

    1. Hey Jen,
      Yes and using coupons on the lowest price for the product you want is the best bang for your buck… Price matching is something we take advantage of often so we don’t have to drive all over the city. Mr.CBB

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