Ways to save at the grocery store

LOS ANGELES Outside of your home and your car, the grocery bill takes the biggest chunk out of our paycheck. But it is also one bill you can shrink, if you change some of your old habits.

/*Consumer Reports*/ was able to cut one of its expert's grocery bills by as much as half by shopping strategically and avoiding impulse buys.

"One of the surest ways to save at the supermarket is to choose the store's own brand," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports. "On average you can save 25 percent."

For instance, a national brand of bread crumbs at one market was $2.49 for a 15-ounce package.

"I walk another step and look what we've got here: a 15-ounce can for 99 cents. It's on sale. That's less than 50 percent of the cost of the other product," said Marks.

The more basic store value brands are even cheaper. For example, economy paper towel and toilet paper can save a bundle.

"Fact is some of these products do compromise on quality. But what's the big risk? At worst you're out a dollar or two. And if you don't like it, you can just buy your favorite brand next time out," said Marks.

When it comes to buying in bulk, most of the time, bigger sizes are more economical. But about 25 percent of the time, smaller is actually a better deal.

"This small can: unit price 68.9 cents a pound. The bigger can, which you'd think would be a bargain, guess what? Nearly $1 a pound. More bang for your buck: smaller can. Check those unit price labels," said Marks.

And finally, if you're not using newspaper or online coupons, you're losing money. But experts say it all comes down to some planning.

"Make a list, stick to it. Pick up your store's weekly flyer. Third, always use your store bonus card if your store has one," said Marks.

Using your bonus card is easy and could save you hundreds of dollars per year.

Consumer Reports says you should be aware that not everything you see in a flyer is actually on sale. Just being included in the flyer can boost sales 500 percent, and manufacturers often pay for ads in them.



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