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Ways to cut your weekly grocery bill

Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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Clip, buy smart, and keep an eye on the scanner to save hundreds of dollars

Even with lower fuel prices, the cost of food will probably continue to rise in 2009, led by increases for meat and poultry. To help lower your tab at the checkout, CRMA’s experts have compiled tips for saving on food shopping while avoiding money wasting traps.

Before you go

Plan a route- Make a list and take a look at your local market’s newspaper ads to see what’s on sale. Or check out store Web sites. Plan to hit a few stores so you can take advantage of the best sales. Those within a five-mile radius of each other will be especially competitive in their pricing.

Get coupons and store-loyalty cards. People who use them save more than 10 percent a year on groceries, or about $678, according to a poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Hunt for coupons on your computer. CRMA experts found discounts on everything from frozen items to pet food on coupon sites such as and

At the store

Evaluate circular savings. Don’t assume that advertised prices are bargains. Some manufacturers pay to have their products featured in circulars.

Avoid common spending traps. The most expensive products are usually displayed at eye level, so check out items above your head and below your knees. Products displayed at the ends of aisles, known in supermarket lingo as endcaps, aren’t necessarily on sale, but they can tempt you to make impulse purchases.

Stock up on sale items. Some staples last longer than you think. Butter can be stored for four months in your freezer. Acidic canned goods like tomatoes are good for 18 months and juice in unopened bottles is good for 12 to 18 months.

Look at unit prices. Big packages are often more economical, but not always. One study found that canned tuna, coffee, peanut butter, ketchup and frozen orange juice often turn out to be costlier in larger containers. Make sure you compare unit prices (per ounce, etc.) before you buy.

Watch the scanner. A recent Consumer Reports poll found that one in five shoppers who said they watched the supermarket scanner found errors.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.

e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page
Ways to cut your weekly grocery bill
Clip, buy smart, and keep an eye on the scanner to save hundreds of dollars.