WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Price Book - best prices for groceries

Posted April 8, 2010
Updated February 26

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

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 (as of Feb. 2014) 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 4-6 weeks’ worth of product 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. Many 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 often have carrots, apples, pears and oranges for $1 or less per pound on a regular basis. As a general rule, don’t buy packaged lettuce and spinach unless you want to spend more per pound than needed. With the combo of sale and coupon, though, sometimes the packaged lettuce bags are a good deal.

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 12 – 16 oz. of frozen veggies including broccoli, peas, corn, carrots and more for $1 or less. Keep in mind that organic produce will usually be much higher than the cost of the non-organic prices I have listed below.

Apples

Lower buy price: $1.00/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

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)

Bananas

Lower buy price: $0.44 per lb
Higher buy price: $0.59 per lb
Look for “ripe” bananas in the grocery store for .25 - .35/lb

Broccoli bunch

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

Cantaloupe

Lower buy price: $1.00 each
Higher buy price: $2.00

Carrots

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

Carrots, peeled baby/mini

Lower buy price: .89/lb
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Celery

Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less per bunch
Higher buy price: $1.50 per bunch

Citrus

Lower buy price: $.75/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Cucumbers

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

Grapes

Lower buy price: $1.00 per lb
Higher buy price: $1.50 per lb

Lettuce, Romaine, green leaf, red leaf lettuce

Lower buy price: $1.00 - $1.50 per bunch
Higher buy price: $2.00 per bunch (Greens are usually much more expensive when pre-packaged)

Peaches

Lower buy price: $1.00/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Pears

Lower buy price: $1.00/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Peppers, Green bell peppers

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

Peppers, Yellow, Orange or Red Bell Peppers (these are usually much more expensive than green peppers so I 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)

Spinach

Lower buy price: $1.50 each
Higher buy price: $2.00 per bunch

Squash, Zucchini squash

Lower buy price: $.75/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $1.25/lb.

Strawberries

Lower buy price: $1.00/lb. or less
Higher buy price: $2.50/lb.

Tomatoes

Lower buy price: $1.00/lb or less
Higher buy price: $1.50 per lb or less
Roma tomatoes are often less expensive than slicing tomatoes.


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.

Beef: London broil, beef stew meat

Lower buy price: $2.50/lb or less (usually found at $2.99/lb these days on sale so if you find it for $2.50/lb- that’s a very good deal)
Higher buy price: $3.50 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

Beef Steaks (like NY strip steak)

Lower buy price: $4.99/lb
Higher buy price: $5.99 per lb

Beef: Ground Beef (75% - 80% lean)

Lower buy price: $1.50/lb or less
Higher buy price: $2.50 per lb

Ground beef is usually cheaper when sold in bulk (often 3 lb containers). Obviously, you will pay more for 93% lean.

Chicken legs and wings

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

Chicken: Whole fryers

$1.00 or less per lb

Chicken: Split Chicken Breast

Lower buy price: $1.00/lb or less or less
Higher buy price: $1.25 per lb or less

Chicken: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast or tenderloins

Lower buy price: $1.69/lb or less
Higher buy price: $2.25 per lb or less
(my top price is $2/lb for boneless skinless chicken breast)

Pork: Boston Butt pork roast

Lower buy price: $1.75/lb or less
Higher buy price: $2.50 per lb

Pork Chops Boneless, pork spareribs, pork steaks

Lower buy price: $2.50/lb or less
Higher buy price: $3.00 per lb

Seafood: Fish

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

Seafood: Shrimp

Lower buy price: $5.00/lb or less
Higher buy price: $6.00 per lb

Seafood: Snow Crab Legs

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

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.

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

Turkey bacon

12 oz., $1.50/lb with sale and coupon

Bacon

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


Dairy & Frozen

Biscuits and croissants

.50 - .75 each with sale and coupon

Butter, 16 oz quarters
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

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

Cheese: Shredded cheese, 8 oz.
Lower buy price: $1.10 or less (when Harris Teeter offers the Buy 2 Get 3 Free promo)
Higher buy price: $1.50
When grocery stores offer their store brand cheese BOGO, it usually makes the price $1.50 or less per 8 oz package, a good price. Cheese freezes well in the package so stock up when it's $1.35 or less per 8 oz.

Cheese: 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.)

Cream cheese bricks, 8 oz
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.25

Cream cheese spreadable tub, 8 oz
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.50 each

Cookie dough

$1.00 - $1.50 per package

Dip

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

Eggs
Lower buy price: $1.00 per dozen or less
Higher buy price: $1.50 per dozen (they usually go on sale at the grocery or drug stores every few weeks for $1.00/dozen. When they hit that price, but a couple dozen since they are usually in date for a few weeks)

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

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

Milk
Lower buy price: $2.50 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 milk close to expiration (but not yet expired) many times with no issues. Walgreens and Kroger have offered milk deals often. Most weeks, anything under $3 is a very good 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

Pierogies

Frozen pierogies - $1.50 per box on sale with coupon

Pizza

Frozen (medium to higher quality)
Lower buy price: $2.00 (after sale and coupons)
Higher buy price: $3.50 (after sales and coupons)

Ravioli

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

Sour cream, 16 oz
Lower buy price: $1.00
Higher buy price: $1.50

Veggie burgers (like Morningstar and Boca)
Lower buy price: $1.50 or less per package
Higher buy price: $2.50 per box with sale and coupons

Vegetables: Frozen vegetables (12 oz)
Lower buy price: $.50 or less with sale and coupon
Higher buy price: $1.00

Vegetables: Frozen vegetables (16 oz)
Lower buy price: $.75 or less with sale and coupon
Higher buy price: $1.25

Yogurt singles, 4-6 oz
Lower buy price: $.20 each or less (with sales and coupons)
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)


Miscellaneous Food

Bread

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)

Bread

White bread, 20 oz. loaf
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.25 per loaf (Kroger often has Kroger brand white sandwich bread for $1 per loaf)

Brownie mix

$1 or less per box

Buns: Hamburger and hot dog buns

8 count, white bread
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less
Higher buy price: $1.25

Cake mix

.75 or less (if you wait for sale and coupons, you'll find it as low as .25 or less per box)

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

Canned vegetables including beans

(approx 15 oz can), .50

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.

Chips (potato, tortilla, cheese puffs, etc, 9 to 10 oz)
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less (often for store brand BOGO)
Higher buy price: $1.50

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

Extra virgin olive oil (also known as EVOO)

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

Flour

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

Granola Bars

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

Mustard

(12 oz specialty or 20 oz yellow mustard)
Lower buy price: $.25 or less
Higher buy price: $.75 each

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

Juice: 100% juice, 64 oz
Lower buy price: $1.00 each or less with sale and coupon
Higher buy price: $1.99

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)

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

Pasta, 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 or use sale and coupon to get Ragu, Prego and Barilla for $1 or less often)
Higher buy price: $1.25 per jar

Peanut butter (14 – 16 oz)
Lower buy price: $1.50 each or less
Higher buy price: $2.00 (Store brand goes on sale for $2 often)

Popcorn,

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

Rice

brown or white, 1 lb bag,
Lower buy price: .50 or less with sale and coupon
Higher buy price: $1.00 or less

Rice

boxed seasoned, 8 – 9 oz., .50 or less with sale sand coupons

Salad dressing or marinades (16 oz)
Lower buy price: $.75 or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.25

Salsa (16 oz)
Lower buy price: $1.00 or less (with sale and coupon)
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 almost every week 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)

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


Non-Food

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

Bleach, 96 oz,
Lower buy price: $1.00 or less
Higher buy price: $1.50

Cleaning sprays, 26 - 32 oz.
Lower buy price: $.50 or less (with sales and coupons and often a drug store reward)
Higher buy price: $1.25

Cough drops,

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

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

Deodorant, approx., 2.6 oz
Lower buy price: $.50 or less with sale, coupon and drug store rewards
Higher buy price: $.75 per stick

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

Facial tissues

.60 to $1.00 per box (after sale and coupons and sometimes a drugstore reward)

Feminine products: Maxi pads,

24 count, $2 - $2.50 or less with sale and coupons

Feminine products: Mini pads,

22 count, .50 - $1 or less with sale and coupons

Feminine products: Tampons,

18 count, $2 - $2.50 or less with sale and coupons

Floss,

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

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, All, Era, Xtra, Gain and Arm & Hammer.

Lotion,

$1.00 or less

Pain relievers,

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

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

Razors,

multi-pack disposable, free to $1.50 after sales, coupons, drug store rewards

Razors,

refillable, regular price $10 or so, usually on sale for $2.99 or less after sale, 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

Shaving cream

.75 or less after sale and coupons

Soap: Hand soap,

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

Soap: Body soap,

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

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

Zipper sandwich bags

50 count
Lower buy price: $.50 or less (with sale and coupon)
Higher buy price: $1.25


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!

12 Comments

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  • Amomoftwo Mar 8, 9:14 a.m.

    This is one of the most useful posts that you have done. I am always calculating while walking thru the store...you have just saved me a ton of time!

  • audreycurrin May 12, 2:33 p.m.

    Faye, Would it be worth the trip in gas to come to the Farmer's Market this summer to get a LARGE amt of fruits and vegetables to can and freeze? I live about an hour away. Thanks!!

  • jnfw82 Feb 25, 11:45 a.m.

    I have a question. What is a good price for Cantaloupe and Grapes? Also what about lean hamburger? I know it would be higher than regular but what is considered a good price?

    Thanks in advance

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jun 1, 12:34 p.m.

    Thanks for the link Amanda!

    Pooh - there are many people who still buy 80% lean ground beef. My husband prefers the 93% lean so when I do buy it, I buy the leanest avaialble.

    I don't actually like ground beef at all (it's a texture thing) which is why you rarely see recipes calling for ground beef in my Monday meal plan. On the rare time I do buy it to make burgers, it's always really lean. I have also read where some people mix the 80% and 93% so it's not quite as fatty as the 80% but also not as expensive as the 93%.

  • amanda7 Jun 1, 8:53 a.m.

    In regards to the hamburger - I buy it! Here's an article you might find helpful with an explanation as to why it is a good frugal choice and not as fatty as you might think. http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/reducedfatgroundbeef.htm HTH! :)

  • poohperson2000 May 31, 7:56 a.m.

    It is helpful- but who buys 75-80% hamburger anyone? Yes it is cheap, but half of it is gone when you finish cooking it.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Apr 9, 7:31 p.m.

    It was so nice to meet you as well, kol!

  • kol78 Apr 9, 3:55 p.m.

    This is really helpful!! Thank you and it was nice meeting you at the lipstick luncheon.

  • Nancy Apr 8, 10:33 p.m.

    I wish I had space in my freezer for gallons of milk LOL - it's packed full of all the other deals. Of course it's the freezer in the garage, the 'backup' freezer, as the one inside is always packed too ~sigh~ But fortunately I still rarely pay full price for milk, someone is usually offering a discount thank goodness!

    This week in fact, Lowe's Foods has boneless skinless chicken breast (a basic staple I always stock a lot of) for $1.87 lb - yup, a good use for my $5 discount rewards coupons :)

  • Amomoftwo Apr 8, 9:30 p.m.

    Thanks for this list. I have my own mental list and it's very close to yours~particularly on the meats. I am finding more and more great deals on meat~which is one thing many non-couponers complain about. Deals are out there but you need to look and be open to new cuts of meat.

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