I recently finished The Complete Tightward Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (please tune in this coming Saturday for This Book Room to read my review of it and learn more!), and one of the ideas she shared was creating a price book.
A price book can be completed in a few different ways. Use a binder in which loose leaf sheets of paper can be inserted. We prefer a smaller binder to a larger one, as this is easier to handle in the stores. Binders are shockingly expensive - we paid full price for ours (which was $10!!!), but I would recommend hitting up yard sales or asking around to see if anyone you know has one that they no longer need. We also purchased paper for the binder (this was a couple of dollars), but if you don't want to do that, you can also just use scrap paper you have in the house and cut the paper to fit and punch holes in it.
Each page will be for a specific item you buy. Some of the items in our price book are honey, bread, popcorn, and pinto beans. For each item, we have the ounce unit price for each item from the stores we regularly patronize. The stores we regularly visit include: Aunt Millie's Thrift Stores, Whole Foods, Kroger, VG's, Meijer, Sam's and Aldi. While we only buy meat from Whole Foods due to the quality, we literally research which stores have the best prices and visit those stores when we need to purchase that item.
The price book is handy for when a sale is going on or you have coupons. You can then use the price book to determine whether the sale is actually a good sale or the coupons should actually be used.
You can get the prices for the price book from receipts from previous visits. Jason and I save all of our receipts and just file them by month in a plastic storage container we bought from Target for less than $10 (we have 3 of these, but you will be able to store more than just receipts in 1 - we just file a lot of paperwork and whatnot in these handy containers).
We also visited or are in the process of visiting all of the stores we regularly frequent to help fill out our price book. We completed the process at Aunt Millie's, Sam's and Aldi and are still working on the major stores.
You can also categorize your groceries into food and household supplies to keep your beans separated from your shampoo. I would recommend alphabetizing the pages in each category for quick referencing.
We only recently discovered Aldi's and Aunt Millie's, but through the use of the price book, we were shocked at what we had been paying for canned fruit and veggies to supplement Jason's lunches at home. We thought we had paid a good price at Sam's for less than $0.80 a can for veggies and about $1 a can for fruit. Aldi's offers similar products for the same weight for less than half the price.
The price book has already resulted in savings for my family, and we have found that we don't really use coupons as the store brand is always, always cheaper than name-brand coupons, except for the occasions when coupons result in a free or near-free item. The concept of a book price is one that makes you slap your forehead in Homer Simpson-style and say, "Doh, why didn't I think of that before?!?!"