Ottawa Grocery Price Book

I created and have been using my Ottawa Grocery Price Book on Google Docs for a couple months now. It lets me keep track of the prices at different grocery stores around Ottawa. I also opened it up to anyone in the world who wanted to write in prices from their receipts, so we could create a full crowdsourced spreadsheet of prices across Ottawa.

There hasn’t been much participation, but I haven’t pushed it much either, so I’m not too sad about that. I use it and enter my own info into it, and it’s been a great tool for me. However, I did get sad about something that appeared there when I looked last night. Someone had changed all the store headings at the top, replacing the Ottawa stores with names I’d never heard of!

Luckily I could tell that not much if any of the prices had been changed, and I could remember the four main stores that I’ve been shopping at, so I changed it back. And then promptly locked the document.

I realized that there could be malicious people out there who could mess the whole thing up for everyone; and the thing that bugged me most was that I actually USE my pricebook, and losing it would really suck for me!

I don’t think it was a malicious person who made the edits this time–probably someone living elsewhere who wanted to set up their own price book, and ended up saving their changes to the master copy instead of making a new copy for their own use–but even that kind of error could really mess things up for me.

So in the interests of preserving my handy tool, I’m changing how the price book works. I’ve made it viewable, but not editable. What this means is that you are free to check out the price book, and even cut & paste it as a basis to create your own, but only I can enter in items and prices.

However, if you still want to contribute to the Price Book, you are welcome to scan your receipt and email it to me at frugalurban at gmail dot com. Then I will add the prices in myself when I have a chance. Just make sure your credit card number or any other identifying information is blacked out or removed!

If anyone has any ideas of how to make the Price Book a little more constrained, but still openly editable (maybe locking some fields? Using a Wiki model??) please comment below! I still think it could be a great tool, but I don’t want to jeopardize my own Price Book! I need it too much ūüôā

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Grocery Store Review: Westboro Superstore

After neglecting it for 2 weeks, I finally got up the energy to take the #2 bus down Somerset to the Westboro Superstore on Saturday. It was much needed, as we have been doing meals day-by-day instead of planning for the week, and spending much more than we should due to poor planning and shopping at Hartmann’s.

So my partner and I did the meal plan (which usually involves me saying “How bout this on Tuesday?” and him replying, “Uh, sure.” or, occasionally, him suggesting, “Why not this on Wednesday?” and me saying “Hmm . . . I don’t really want that.” And yet I claim to want his help with this process! To quote D.W., “Sometimes I crack myself up!”). Though our process might be flawed, I still think this is the cornerstone of not spending ridiculous amounts of money on food.

On Saturday afternoon, the store was pretty packed. In fact, this is my one complaint about the Westboro Superstore: it is frequently a total zoo. And the times when it is less of a zoo, like Sunday night, seem to be the times when the stock is really low.

But there are many positive things about this store too, especially its prices. As you can see on the Ottawa Grocery Price Book, the Westborough Superstore beats Hartmann’s by substantial amounts on almost everything (by the way, Ottawa readers please contribute to the price book! Just scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on “Edit this page”. The more people all over the city who add their purchases, the more info we all have. I’ve been using it as a personal reasource for weeks now and it really helps!)

It also has a really wide variety of high quality produce, including lots of organics, and even on the lowest-stocked days there have never been more than a couple things I couldn’t find from my list.

Another neat feature it has as a Real Canadian Superstore is that it “matches Costco” on some items. I’ve found multi-packs of ziplock baggies, for example, at a Costco price-point. They feature these deals in their¬†flyer each week.

The damage at the end of the shopping trip was just under $80, which was for a week of meals for our little family of 3. This also included $7 worth of cat food, $8 for cat litter, and a giant $10 “family pack” of chicken drumsticks.

We’re no $30 a week family, but if we can keep our grocery budget at $100 a week, I feel we’re doing fine. And shopping at the Westboro Superstore makes it easier.

Amazing Grace

Now, this will come as no surprise to long-time residents of Ottawa, but Grace Ottawa is amazing!  As a recent new-comer, I admit I have checked it out once or twice before, but that was without my more recently acquired frugalista-vision.  Before I saw a lot of Mr. Goudas, and exotic seasoning blends I would probably never use.  But this time . . . this time was different.

Here is just a sampling of the amazing deals on staples to be had at Grace Ottawa:

– 10 lb couscous for $9.99

– 10 kilos red lentils for $20.99

– 10 kilos other beans for $16.99

– 5 limes for $1

– 4 lemons for $1

– fresh cilantro for $1

They also had bags and bags and BAGS of rice: Basmati, Jasmine, Indian, Thai . . . and ¬†yes, Mr. Goudas. ¬†I didn’t see the prices on rice but I’d bet the deals are good, and the selection is unbeatable. ¬†I was also able to find coconut oil (for an upcoming experiment on making my own deoderant) and durum semolina flour, for making my own pasta.

In conclusion, shop at Amazing Grace, make use of their giant bags of staples, and save giant bags of money!

The Ottawa Grocery Price Book

I’m launching a new project, the Ottawa Grocery Price Book, and I’m looking for participants! ¬†If you want to be a collaborator on this project, simply visit the Ottawa Grocery Price Book here. ¬†Anyone can view and anyone can edit.

What is it?

Frugality blogs talk about creating a “Price Book” for often-purchased items so you can track where to get what around the city. ¬†It saves you money because it’s really hard to remember where all the best deals are, but if you have it in a handy spreadsheet, you will know to go to Westborough when you need flour, and to the Co-op when you need cat food.

This is a no-brainer as something to create online, and why not make it collaborative?  With enough contributors, we can map grocery prices around Ottawa, and save ourselves and others a lot of money.  This type of information sharing might also encourage some downtown businesses to lower their prices once people see how much they are being gouged.

How to contribute?

Simply enter a product in column 1 and the price you paid in the column for the store you shopped at. ¬†For example, if you bought Western 2% Yogurt at Loblaws on Rideau, you would write “Western Yogurt, 2%” in column A under Dairy, and on the corresponding line under Rideau Loblaws, you would write “$2.99 / 750 ml”. ¬†For meat, dried and bulk items it would be easier to write the price per kilo.

If you see a price listed that’s no longer correct, please correct it. ¬†These should be regular prices, not sale prices (for sale prices, see the weekly flyers posted¬†here and¬†here), to cut down on some fluctuation, though many fresh items particularly change prices quite regularly.

To View the Price Book

Go to the Grocery Price Book tab on frugalurban.wordpress.com, or click here.

Okay everyone, tell your friends! ¬†Let’s help each other help ourselves to the best deals in town!

Grocery Store Review: Isabella Loblaws

I am always amazed at how much I can get for so little at this old-school “small” Loblaws at the North end of the Glebe. ¬†Today I filled my shopping cart for all of $46.

There were some lovely deals: Cherries for $2.77/lb (California), organic grapes for $3.99/lb, Romaine for 79¬Ę, a package of 3 Ontario greenhouse cucumbers for $2.79, and they still have Aylmer tomatoes for 99¬Ę per can.

Actually the trick to this store is that since it is so tiny (and by “tiny”, I really mean “regular-sized” like before supermarkets went on steroids and started eating up entire postal codes) they often don’t have what you came for. ¬†So you make do, find something else, or just get it elswhere next week.

Yes it can be inconvenient–today they had no organic 2% milk, which we drink a lot of, so I’ll probably end up getting it at Hartman’s. ¬†But it can also save me money–like, maybe we’ll make the half-a-bag that’s in the fridge last one more day so we can have a zero-dollar day tomorrow.

The other nice trick is how the store is laid out. ¬†For some reason I always end up getting a ton of produce when I head up there, probably because the produce is generally nice, and much cheaper than Hartman’s. ¬†They also have a usually well-stocked 50% reduced produce rack. ¬†They also have 50% reduced bread products and you can usually pick up a 6-pack of buns for just over a dollar. ¬†Throw them in the freezer and they’ll keep just fine.

If you live in the Glebe or Centretown, it’s totally worth making the Isabella Loblaws a regular grocery stop.