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WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Updated Price Book

Posted September 6, 2012

 

With the rise in food and non-food prices in the last year, here is an updated Price Book listing buy prices for meat, produce, pasta, toothpaste and more! Please share your feedback on these prices and add others not on the list.

One of the questions I am asked frequently is how to determine the best prices for items we use often. Is $2.00 per pound a good price for chicken breast? What is a stock up price for paper towels? How much should I be paying for toothpaste?

I have received a number of questions from readers about whether the buy price changes as you become more proficient at couponing and as your stockpile increases. The answer is definitely YES! When I first started couponing, I was thrilled when I bought name brand toothpaste for .50 a tube. Now that I have been couponing for a while and have a number of tubes in my overstock, I generally wait until it is free. Often, I get paid to take it home with the combination of sales, coupons and drug store reward programs.

Following is an updated Price Book with both the low price I usually wait for as an experienced couponer (with a stockpile) as well as the prices of the upper limits that new couponers should aim to stay at or under if they don’t already have that stockpile going. The upper/high end prices are still good deals, they just aren’t as low as they go when the stars are aligned and the coupons match perfectly with the sales (which we all know doesn’t happen for every product every day).

My suggestion is to stock up for 3-5 weeks worth when the prices hit the Low Prices listed for those items that are non-perishable or can be stored in the freezer. If you are running low on something and need it to complete the meal plan or you are just getting started, it’s fine to buy at the High End prices, but don’t stock up on too much. Save your stocking up for the Low End prices. Most of the prices for items (other than meat and produce) are found when a sale and coupon are combined.

Please keep in mind that if you have allergy issues or special dietary needs (gluten-free, for instance), some of these prices will not apply because those products are generally going to be more expensive.

Produce

Try to stay at $1.50/lb or less for most produce. Ideally, look for produce sales that are $1.00/lb or less. All the area grocery stores have apples, pears and oranges for $1 or less per pound on a regular basis. Don’t buy packaged lettuce and spinach unless you want to spend much more per pound than needed.

Here are some ideal buy prices for fruit and veggies. Keep in mind that when they are in season, you will find these prices more often. Sometimes you will even find them at lower prices. That might be a good time to buy in bulk and freeze the produce. It is often less expensive per pound to buy produce bagged in 3, 5 or 8 lb bags.

When produce is out of season and $50 per pound (ok, not really that high) I often buy frozen produce. When on sale with a coupon, I can often purchase 1 lb. of frozen veggies including broccoli, peas, corn, carrots and more for less than $1.00. Keep in mind that organic produce will usually be much higher than the cost of the non-organic prices I have listed below.

Apples and pears
Lower buy price: .80/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Strawberries
Lower buy price: $1.00/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $2.00/lb.

Citrus
Lower buy price: $.80/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Peaches
Lower buy price: $.99/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Grapes
Lower buy price: .99 per lb
Higher buy price: $1.50 per lb

Bananas

Lower buy price: $0.44 per lb
Higher buy price: $0.59 per lb

Cucumbers
Lower buy price: $.50 each
Higher buy price: $.75 each

Carrots
Lower buy price: $.50/lb.
Higher buy price: $1.00/lb.

Baby Carrots, peeled
Lower buy price: .89/lb
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Squash, Zucchini squash
Lower buy price: $.75/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Green peppers
Lower buy price: $.50 each
Higher buy price: $1.00 each

Celery
Lower buy price: $1.25 each or less per bunch
Higher buy price: $1.75 per bunch

Yellow, Orange or Red Peppers (these are usually much more expensive than green peppers so I just don’t but them as much)
Lower buy price: $0.50 each (when Aldi offers the 3-pack for $1.50)
Higher buy price: $1.50 each (I usually only buy when they are $1 or less per pepper)

Broccoli bunch
Lower buy price: $1.50 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.75 per bunch or less

Tomatoes
Lower buy price: .99/lb or less
Higher buy price: $1.50 per lb or less
Roma tomatoes are often less expensive than slicing tomatoes.

Asparagus
Lower buy price: $1.25/lb or less (when it finally hits $1.25 or so once a year, I stock up, blanch and freeze because we all love asparagus oven-roasted with olive oil and a little bit of salt)
Higher buy price: $1.75 per lb or less (since it rarely gets this low, we generally don’t buy a lot of fresh asparagus)

Cantaloupe
Lower buy price: .99 each
Higher buy price: $2.00

Spinach, romaine, green leaf, red leaf lettuce
Lower buy price: $1.50 - $1.99 per bunch
Higher buy price: $2.25 per bunch (Greens are usually much more expensive when pre-packaged)

Meat

Look for buy one get one free deals, family size packages and marked down meat to get the best buys. The prices below are sale and family size prices. Keep in mind that markdown prices can go even lower so check the markdown meat section at your stores when you shop. I recommend you use the meat that day or freeze it.

Chicken legs and wings
Lower buy price: $.69/lb (often sold in 10 lb bags)
Higher buy price: $.99/lb

Split Chicken Breast
Lower buy price: $.99/lb or less or less
Higher buy price: $1.25 per lb or less

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast or tenderloins
Lower buy price: $1.69/lb or less
Higher buy price: $2.25 per lb or less

London broil, beef stew meat
Lower buy price: $2.50/lb or less
Higher buy price: $2.99 per lb or less

Beef Roast (like boneless eye of round)
Lower buy price: $2.99/lb or less
Higher buy price: $3.50 per lb or less

Turkey, whole
Lower buy price: $.40/lb - usually this price is only found around Thanksgiving so buy an extra one for the freezer at this price, if you have the room.
Higher buy price: $.80 per lb or less
The best price on turkeys is in November and December. I usually buy 1 or 2 extras to use throughout the year. Often, stores require an additional purchase of $20 - $25 to get the .40 - 50/lb price.

Turkey Breast
Lower buy price: $.99/lb or less
Higher buy price: $1.50 per lb
Again, the best price on turkey breast is in November and December. Stock up for the next 6 months when they hit .99/lb. During Thanksgiving 2011, the best prices we saw were .99/lb for bone-in turkey breast.

Ground Beef (75% - 80% lean)
Lower buy price: $1.50/lb or less
Higher buy price: $2.25 per lb
Ground beef is usually cheaper when sold in bulk (often 3 lb containers). Obviously, you will pay more for 93% lean.

Pork Chops Boneless, pork spareribs, pork steaks
Lower buy price: $2.50/lb or less
Higher buy price: $3.00 per lb

Beef Steaks (like NY strip steak)
Lower buy price: $4.99/lb
Higher buy price: $5.99 per lb

Fish
Lower buy price: $4.00/lb or less
Higher buy price: $5.50 per lb

Shrimp
Lower buy price: $5.00/lb or less
Higher buy price: $6.00 per lb (When Harris Teeter offers the Buy 2 Get 3 deal on 2 lb bags, it's usually around $5.50/lb)

Snow Crab Legs
Lower buy price: $4.99/lb or less
Higher buy price: $5.99 per lb

Deli Meat
Lower buy price: $2.50/lb or less for packaged deli meat (like Oscar Mayer, Hillshire Farm with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $5.00 per lb at the deli

Bacon, 12 - 16 oz, $2.50 - $3 .00 per lb or less is a good price

Dairy & Frozen

Eggs
Lower buy price:  .99 per dozen or less (Best deal recently was Davidson eggs for .34 per dozen with BOGO sale and  coupon at HT in August 2012, but those deals are rare)
Higher buy price: $1.25 per dozen (they usually go on sale at the grocery or drug stores every few weeks for .99/dozen. When they hit that price, but a couple dozen since they are usually in date for a few weeks)

Yogurt singles, 4-6 oz
Lower buy price: $.15 each or less
Higher buy price: $.40 each

Yogurt 4-packs (like Activia, Danimals, etc) $1.00 or less with sale and coupon (often free to .50 with $2 sale and .75/1 doubled coupon at Harris Teeter or Lowes Foods or a triple or super doubles coupon event)

Shredded cheese, 8 oz.
Lower buy price: $1.00 or less
Higher buy price: $1.50 (Cheese freezes well in the package so stock up when it's $1 or less)

American cheese slices, 12 oz
Lower buy price: $1.00 or less
Higher buy price: $1.50 per package

Sliced cheese, 8 oz.
Lower buy price: $1.25 or less
Higher buy price: $1.75 per package (look for BOGO sales on store brand or name brand with a coupon. We have seen recent sliced cheese prices of $1.30 with BOGO store brand sale)

Sour cream, 16 oz
Lower buy price: $.99
Higher buy price: $1.50

Cream cheese bricks, 8 oz
Lower buy price: $.99 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.25

Cream cheese spreadable tub, 8 oz
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.50 each

Refrigerated biscuits and croissants .50 - .75 each with sale and coupon

Milk
Lower buy price: $1.99 or less per gallon (Sometimes you can find expiring milk on sale for $2 or less per gallon. If you freeze it or use it in the next 2 or 3 days, it is usually just fine. I've bought expiring (but not yet expired) milk many times with no issues.  Walgreens and Kroger have offered milk deals often. Most weeks, anything under $3 is a decent price.)
Higher buy price: $3.25 per gallon

Orange Juice, 64 oz
Lower buy price: $2.00 or less (usually store brand)
Higher buy price: $2.50

Butter, 16 oz
Lower buy price: $2.00 or less (butter freezes well so if you use it often, stock up when it hits $2 or less per lb)
Higher buy price: $2.50 per lb

Margarine sticks, 16 oz.
Lower buy price: $.75 or less
Higher buy price: $1.25 or less

Dip (like Dean's Dip or Heluva Good Dip, 8 oz) .50 - $1.00 with sale and coupon

Frozen pizza (medium to higher quality)

Lower buy price: $2.00 (after sale and coupons)
Higher buy price: $3.50 (after sales and coupons)

Frozen vegetables (16 oz)
Lower buy price: $.50 or less
Higher buy price: $1.25

Frozen ravioli – look for BOGO sales making them around $2.50 - $2.75 per 24 oz. package

Frozen pierogies - $1.00/ - $1.50 per box on sale with coupon

Veggie burgers (like Morningstar and Boca)
Lower buy price: $1.50 or less per package (with sale and coupon they were $1.50 per box at HT and LF in last August 2012)
Higher buy price: $2.50 per box with sale and coupons

Ice Cream, 48 oz.- 56 oz (like Breyers, Blue Bunny, Mayfield)
Lower buy price: $1.50 or less (with sale and coupons)
Higher buy price: $2.50

Miscellaneous Food

Pasta and rice, 1 lb packages
Lower buy price: $.25/lb or less (with sales and coupons)
Higher buy price: $1.00 per lb

Pasta sauce (approximately 26 oz)
Lower buy price: $.50 - .75 per jar (Store brand and Hunt's are often on sale for $1 per jar)
Higher buy price: $1.25 per jar

Mustard (12 oz specialty or 20 oz yellow mustard)
Lower buy price: $.50 or less
Higher buy price: $.75 each

Ketchup, 10 oz pouch or 24 oz bottle
Lower buy price: $.50 each or less (with sales and coupons)
Higher buy price: $.99 (for 24 oz bottle)

Jelly/jam (10 – 18 oz depending on brand)
Lower buy price: $.50 each or less (sale with coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.25 or less

Peanut butter (16 – 17 oz)
Lower buy price: $1.50 each or less (since December 2011, the cost of peanut butter has increased significantly.. If you can find it for $1 or less per jar with the combo of sale and coupon, that's an excellent stock up price. $1.50 is a good price. Store brand goes on sale for $2)
Higher buy price: $2.00

Salad dressing or marinades (14 - 16 oz)
Lower buy price: $.50 or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.25

Mayonnaise, 30 oz.
Lower buy price: $1.50 (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $2.50 (look for BOGO sale)

Salsa (16 oz)
Lower buy price: $.99 or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.50

100% Whole wheat bread, 20 oz loaf
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less (stock up and freeze when $1 or less per loaf)
Higher buy price: $1.50 per loaf or less (look for BOGO and store brand sales)

White bread, 20 oz. loaf
Lower buy price: $.99 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.25 per loaf (Kroger often has Kroger brand white sandwich bread for $1 per loaf)

Hamburger and hot dog buns, 8 count, white bread, $1.00 or less

Crackers (8-16 oz)
Lower buy price: $.50 or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.00 - $1.50 per box

Cereal (both high fiber and kids cereals)
Lower buy price: $.50 each or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.25 per box or less (there are many good cereal deals during August and September during back to school sales. Cereal is usually in date for many months so stock up when your favorite hits a low price)

Granola Bars
Lower buy price: .50 each or less per box (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.25 per box

Chips (potato, tortilla, cheese puffs, etc, 9 to 10 oz)
Lower buy price: .99 each or less (often for store brand BOGO)
Higher buy price: $1.50

Popcorn, 3 pack microwavable, $1.00 or less with sale and coupon or store brand

Apple Juice, 64 oz
Lower buy price: $.99 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.50

Sodas - 2 ltr.
Lower buy price: $.75 each or less (usually store brand or a rewards deal at the drug stores)
Higher buy price: $1.00 (Pepsi and Coke products go on sale for $1 every few weeks at multiple area stores)

Sodas, 12 pack 12 oz cans
Lower buy price: $2.00 or less (often store brand)
Higher buy price: $2.25 - $2.50 (for name brand)

EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), 17 oz,  $2.99  with sale and coupon (I look for a BOGO sale and combine with coupon or a store brand BOGO sale)

Sugar, 4 lb, $1.99 - $2.25 on sale

Flour, 5 lb bag, $1.99  - $2.25 (sometimes less during the holidays with coupons)

Cake mix, .75 or less )if you wait for sale and coupons, you'll find it as low as .50 or less)

Brownie mix, $1 or less

Canned vegetables including beans (approx 15 oz can), .50

Canned soup, condensed .50 or less (like Campbell's cream of mushroom or chicken noodle)

Canned soup, ready to heat, $1.00 or less (like Progresso) - we always stock up in the fall when the soup sales kick in and the coupons become available as the temps get cooler

Non-Food

Toothpaste
Lower buy price: FREE to $.25 (often free and a money maker with sales, coupons and drug store rewards)
Higher buy price: $.50 per tube

Toothbrushes
Lower buy price: FREE to $.25 (often free and a money maker with sales, coupons and drug store rewards)
Higher buy price: $.50 per toothbrush

Floss, .25 or less with sale and coupons and drug store rewards

Shampoo/conditioner/hairspray
Lower buy price: $.50 each or less for name brand with sales, coupons and drug store rewards
Higher buy price: $1.25

Lotion, $1 or less

Razors, multi-pack disposable, free to $1 after sales, coupons, drug store rewards

Razors, refillable, regular price $10 or so, usually on sale for $1.99 or less after sale, coupons and drug store rewards

Shaving cream, .75 or less after sale and coupons

Pain relievers, often free - $1 after sales and coupons and drug store rewards

Cough drops, .50 or less during cold and flu season after sales, coupons and drug store rewards

Hand soap, 7.5 - 8 oz bottle
Lower buy price: $.30 or less (after sale and coupons)
Higher buy price: $1.00

Body soap, 2 or 3 bar pack
Lower buy price: $.50 or less (after sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.00

Deodorant
Lower buy price: FREE to $.50 (often free and a money maker with sales, coupons and drug store rewards)
Higher buy price: $.75 per stick

Laundry detergent, 50 oz
Lower buy price: $1.99 each or less
Higher buy price: $2.50
Look for BOGO (buy one get one free) sales and couple with coupons.  Brands that offer good sales and coupons include Purex, Gain, All, Era, Xtra and Arm & Hammer.

Dryer sheets (40 count)
Lower buy price: $.75 or less
Higher buy price: $1.00

Zipper sandwich bags, 50 count
Lower buy price: $.75 or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.25

Face tissues .60 to .99 per box (after sale and coupons and sometimes a drugstore reward)

Paper towels, 8 regular roll package
Lower buy price: $3.00 each or less with sales, coupons and drug store rewards
Higher buy price: $5.00

Bath tissue, 12 double roll or 24 regular rolls
Lower buy price: $3.00 or less with sales, coupons and drug store rewards
Higher buy price: $5.00

Diapers Jumbo Pack
Lower buy price: $5.00 or less (after sales and coupons and often drug store rewards)
Higher buy price: $7.00

Cleaning sprays, 26 - 32 oz.
Lower buy price: $.75 or less (with sales and coupons and often a drug store reward)
Higher buy price: $1.25

Bleach, 96 oz, $1.50 or less (we used to be able to get it for $1 or less all the time, but the regular price has doubled. If you find it for $1 or less, that's a great price)

Please feel free to post any other prices for items not listed or your thoughts on those that are listed. If you have other categories you want me to address, just let me know. As I always say, it’s your money – spend it wisely!

18 Comments

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  • jdouglas13 Sep 7, 2012

    Awesome list, Faye! Thanks for all of your hard work! :)

  • smolder13 Sep 7, 2012

    Forgive me if this is on the list and I missed it. What is a a good buy price for dishwashing detergent? As in the powder/gel stuff you use in a dishwasher.

  • citylefty Sep 7, 2012

    The prices of many produce and meat items change too fast to post real best prices. Some of us would rather stick to specific brands on other items. However, this list gives us a reference point and something to shoot for. For those concerned about paper towel prices, we use napkins for small spills, etc. They are much cheaper than the cheap paper towels that melt when used on spills. I use CVS, Walgreens & Rite Aid for certain items like cereal, candy and soap- among others- when they have a sale. However, their deals are being matched by others and aren't as good as before.

  • karenmorris17 Sep 6, 2012

    Since food prices are rising, I try to stick to a weekly meal plan (thanks for the inspiration, Faye). I'm making better use of sales than ever before, sticking to a weekly food and toiletries budget of $50 to $75 for a family of 3, and I'm avoiding food waste. We have an abundance of food but I'm cooking from scratch more often.

  • Kathy S. Sep 6, 2012

    Trying to get my family to use less paper towels. I bought 2 packs of 18 washcloths at WM for $4 each pack and put them in a bag in the kitchen to use to clean up spills and other things. Hoping family will cooperate and cut out consumption of papertowels since the price keeps rising.

    Kathy

  • ilovelucy31 Sep 6, 2012

    The paper towel coupon amounts seem to be going down and paper towels prices are going up! I can never seem to get the lower buy price of $3 for an 8 pack anymore. I don't see deals on them quite like I used too it seems like...I hope I can get an 8 roll for $3 soon!! I can't ever have enough paper towels

  • DianeNC Sep 6, 2012

    @mikke114 - in respect to deals on pet supplies, PetSmart is supposed to not only match competitor's prices, but also honor competitor's coupons as well. Although some PetSmart stores may give you a hard time about doing both (none of them seem to be in sync about what their policy is), your best bet is when you can do both - have them match a lower competitor's price, and throw in a competitor's coupon as well.

    Note: A competitor's coupon does not necessarily have to be another pet supply store - my biggest savings were using the sale price of my cats favorite dry cat food at Food Lion, combined with a Petsupermarket coupon.

  • pooka Sep 6, 2012

    Hi everyone, HT always has boneless skinless chicken breast at the meat 'counter' (where the butcher packages meat from the case for you - not sure the proper name LOL) for 1.99/lb. I get most of our chicken here, because you can buy as many or few chicken breasts as you wish and I don't have to freeze/thaw it, so it's convenient and available last minute. Of course when HT puts the buy 1 get 2 packs on sale that is a better deal and we get the packs (I think this comes out to 1.66/lb). Just thought I would share :)

  • IamSaraLee Sep 6, 2012

    Another option for boneless pork chops is to buy the 4-5 pound boneless pork loin when on sale (usually $1.99/lb @ Kroger), and get the butcher to cut them up for you. It's easy to freeze them into portions for your family.

  • Packy Sep 6, 2012

    I have GOT to give this more priority then. CVS is a block from my office and I seldom go in there.

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