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the magic number system

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

The price of an item in a particular supermarket serves a particular interest.  Most of the time, some items are sold cheaper (occasionally even at a loss) in order to pull you into the store so that you’ll do all your shopping there, allowing the supermarket to profit on the more expensive items.

But by watching how much you spend on each item, you can be a step ahead.  Obviously it is annoying to go back and forth to a bunch of supermarkets, but by picking two good supermarkets, you allow yourself the flexibility to take advantages of the discounted items.  But then how do you know if an item is priced well, without going back and forth to each supermarket?

To answer this question I developed the magic number system.  A magic number is a price that I associate with a food item where I know that this price is a good price.  When I see items sold for their magic number or less then I am more likely to buy more of it and keep it for when the price rises again.

Here are some examples:

₪ 4 – Tuna

₪ 6 – Olives

₪ 1.5 – Tomato paste

₪ 14 – Cereal (500 g)

₪ 1 each – Eggs

₪ 4 – Chic peas

₪ 10 – Ground meat

₪ 4 – Pasta

₪ 9 – Bread

₪ 7 – Challah

Let’s say I wanted to add granola bars to this list. I would, while buying granola bars regularly, take notice of the price of granola bars for the next month, waiting until I find the absolute lowest price.  That price (plus a bit) is the magic number.  Next time I see granola bars at that price, I’ll stock up.  If I see the price is too high, I’ll skip it.  If I see one shop regularly charges more for this item, then I’ll buy it at the other one.  The trick isn’t to buy items at the lowest price possible each week; it is to always buy items at a good price.

But be warned, do not buy perishable items and do not over-consume.  If buying more causes to eat more than you regularly would, then you are spending more, not less.  When stocking up, always ask yourself #1 – if I buy it, will some of it go to waste?  #2 – if I buy it, will some of it go to waste (considering my overeating as waste)?  #3 – Do I have the proper room to keep this in storage?  If you an answer these correctly, then use the magic number system and stock up.  (I know I said this once before, but it bears repeating whenever talking about buying in bulk.)


  1. Rachel says:

    Please can you give the weights of the products you mention e.g. Tuna / Olives / Tomatoe paste / Ground meat etc.

    • jonnydegani says:

      tuna – 160 grams / olives – 540 grams (270 without any liquid in the can) / tomato paste – 100 grams / ground meat – 500 grams

  2. rachel–I was coming to ask the same question. Is that a kilo of chick peas? Irealize now you mean a can. I buy by the kilo and cook in the pressure cooker. How many are you shopping for?
    I suggest skipping the cereal and learning to enjoy cooked oatmeal or farina. The cornflakes are pure sugar as far as your body is concerned, and anything somewhat healthy is way overpriced.
    Could you tell me the store, type and brand of ground meat? Thanks.

    • jonnydegani says:

      I will try to be a bit more specific next time. I usually only shop for two (more if we have some guests).
      I usually buy at (1) shefa shuk (the one near the central bus station) and (2) Hiper Du-Du (once in a blue moon Barcol as well, although I find them a bit overpriced for the things I need.)
      When I buy ground meat I look for the cheapest brand (hey, it ain’t steak), so I wait until once a month or two i see it at my “magic” price at one of the locations.

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