Feb 012007

Kitchen Fun with Carol

carol2007Hello everyone! As I promised, I am going to discuss the process I went through to build my price book. I have read a lot of different books on the general principal of building a price book. Everyone has their theories and I think I have tried them all over the years to figure out what works best for me.

Method 1: The first thing I tried was to build my price book one product at a time. You start off by creating a page for each product that you want to track. You can use a loose leaf binder, spiral bound notebook, journal, or anything that you are comfortable using. The loose leaf notebook works well because you can easily rearrange the pages to make it easier to find the page you want to update. Each page in the notebook is dedicated to one product such as milk, peanut butter, bread, frozen peas, etc. On this page you record information about the product as you shop at various stores. You record the store, brand, size, price, unit price and the date that you recorded the information. The unit price is the price per ounce or pound. This allows to compare the different prices and sizes equally. For example, a 20 ounce loaf of bread is 69 cents at Aldi’s and a 24 ounce loaf of bread is 1.07 at Wal-Mart. The Aldi loaf unit price is .0345 per ounce. The Wal-Mart unit price is .0446. This means that the bread costs less per ounce at Aldi. It is good to go through this exercise. Sometimes it pays to buy a larger size if you are going to use the entire quantity. Here is an example of what a Price Book Page could look like.

I used this method 4 or 5 years ago. It is a good way to begin to collect data if you are not sure of the grocery prices in your area. It is also a great way to evaluate bulk food stores such as BJ’s, Sam’s Club or Costco. You are able to accurately compare the prices of food at your local grocery store to the warehouse clubs and determine which is the best place to shop.

Method 2: If this is too much work for your first time out or you only need to do a quick comparison on a couple of stores, you can start out with a simple comparison sheet.  We have two grocery stores that are right by the house. One is a large national chain and the other is a regional chain. All other stores are at least 20 miles away. I already know that I would not do most of my shopping at the two local stores. I mostly shop there for loss leader items. I really needed to compare the out of town stores.

I put together a list of the items that I wanted to compare. I sorted the items by category so that they were easy to find on the list. For example, I have a category for dairy items, frozen foods, meats, and produce. I then listed the stores that I wanted to compare. Once I filled in this information, I then added a space to note the lowest sale price I had ever seen the item and the date of the sale. I also noted what I thought would be a good sale price. I used this information to try and predict when the item would be on sale again do I could determine how much to buy when it was on sale. Here is a sample of my simple Price Book.

I started using this method about a year ago. It has worked well for me since I am familiar with a lot of the prices in my area. I was surprised by some of my findings. Some of the stores had better prices than others. In the long run it has helped me become a better shopper.

Which method is the best? I believe that you have to work through the process yourself. Everyone is different and every situation is different. Do what works for you!

Updates on Previous Topics

I love hearing from all of you after the newsletter goes out! So many people have great suggestions on topics or further questions on what was covered in the newsletter. I thought it would be good to share this information with everyone.

In the November 2006 issue of Chewin’ the News I shared some ideas on cooking gadgets that are great to have when freezer cooking.  This spurred a big discussion on the merits of Glad® Ovenware. As it turns out quite a few people use these for freezer cooking. I know that they are one of the best investments that I have made. They are easier to use than the disposable aluminum pans and they seem to last forever. 

I wanted to add a couple of items to the list of gadgets that I love to use. I received a nylon whisk for Christmas. I know it is only one month later but I absolutely love using this utensil. It is great to have a whisk that I can use in a nonstick pan and not worry about scratching the coating!

The second thing that I have grown to appreciate for baking large batches of cookies is parchment paper. If you have not tried it before, you should! It makes baking cookies so easy. The cookies do not stick to the paper so it is very easy to remove them from the cookie sheet.

In last month’s newsletter, the Freezer Cook of the Month winner wrote about how she uses price matching to save money while shopping. I had some feedback from this article. Jeannie from Vinton, Louisiana wrote:

I shop my local Wal-Mart here in Louisiana, and they no longer do ad matching on any sale price on any product. Several years ago I had a long discussion with a manager about ad match and the policy was then to only ad match name brand sales. They never substituted their brand for a sale on a competitors generic brand (i.e.: 10 lb bags of leg quarters on sale at a competitor under a generic brand  for .19/lb would only be matched if Wal-Mart sold leg quarters in the same style of bag produced by the same company under the same generic brand, etc). So my advice to everyone looking to do this is to speak with the management of their local Wal-Mart to get the facts straight about ad matching in their store. If the management is willing to do an ad match using Wal-Mart brands with sales on generics from others be sure and ask the manager which cashiers are trained to handle this form of ad match (all should be, but who knows). This way you know which cashier to go to in order to get speedy service.

Thanks for the information Jeannie. If you are considering price matching, take Jeannie’s advice and ask before hand. I have done price matching before at other stores and each store has their own rules. Make sure you find out what they are beforehand.

Bonus Recipes

BlackWhiteStripe_02Black and White Striped Cookies
These are such pretty cookies and they are very simple to make. When dipping the cookie for the second time, you need to because not to mix the colors. Make sure you allow the white chocolate to cool a little before dipping otherwise the regular chocolate can melt a little.



ChocolateSandwich_01Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Before Christmas my friend Julie came over and we made cookies together. This recipe is one that we made together. Her mother used to make these for her when she was a little girl. Her mom would make them and store them in the freezer for Christmas day. Julie and her brothers would sneak into the freezer and “steal” an after school snack!



Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our winner this month is Michelle from West Valley City, UT. Michelle has a great story to share about her first cooking experience and how she was able to help others.

Let’s hear from Michelle:

I am new to 30 Day Gourmet and decided to get a few recipes off the board prior to ordering the book. Well, I got three and tested all of them the day I printed them. The next day, I sat down to make three of each dish to freeze and see how they worked after the original assemble and freeze. While cooking the meals, I got a call from a lady in my church asking if I could take dinner into a family for several days. I laughed because low and behold, there were the meals they needed cooking along with mine. I froze them up and the next afternoon, took all three meals over to this family. I explained to them what they had to do and that they could keep the ones they did not use in the freezer until ready to cook. This sweet lady called me that evening and asked me if I could possibly give her the recipe and find out how I was able to make the meal and freeze it. She said her family loved the meal and wanted to make more of “this kind” of dinners for the future. Well, I gave her this web-site and I am now hooked. Because of this, I will be ordering the book this week and can’t wait to try more. Thank you so much for giving me great recipes and an easy way to help others while making my life easier as well. I am HOOKED!!

Thanks for the wonderful story Michelle. It is great to be able to help others in their time of need and learn something new in the process!

So, how do you make 30 Day Gourmet work for you? How do you use it to help you deal with a challenge in your life? How do you use it to help others? Do you have a funny cooking story to share? Click here to send me an email!

Closing Comments from Carol

My son has discovered Alfredo Sauce. He thinks it is absolutely wonderful! I agree with him but unfortunately I know that it is not good for me. I am working on a reduced fat version that still tastes great. We will see if how it turns out. Next month I will share with you the next step after building a price book – building a master grocery list. I should be knee deep in planning my spring cooking menu so I will talk about how the price book works into that process as well.

Do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!

Have fun in your kitchen!


Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

  One Response to “February 2007 Chewin’ the News”

  1. […] book and make sure I can spot a good sale. Do you need help getting started with your price book? Click here to take a look at the different methods I have used in the February 2007 newsletter to build mine. […]

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