Tips to save big at the grocery store

Published 12:00 pm Friday, September 7, 2012

Heading to the grocery store might mean you need a little more change in your pockets these days. With severe drought affecting much of the Midwest, economists predict grain, produce and meat prices will increase dramatically.

But higher prices don’t necessarily mean one has to spend more money at the grocery store. By making smart grocery-shopping decisions, and looking for the best price deals you can find, you can keep your final bill lower. Here are some tips to get you started:

* Read the deals carefully: Many grocery stores offer deals like “buy two for $5,” which could be a good deal if you really need two of that product. The tags might stipulate that you must buy two. But if you don’t need two, then skip that deal and purchase only one item. Also, be sure to shop on double discount days, if your grocery store holds them. These days are when stores double the value of coupons, giving you extra savings on your final bill.

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* Make your comparisons: It’s also a good idea to carry a calculator so you can determine which item has the lowest price per unit. Some grocery stores will print this on the price tags, allowing you to make the comparison easier. Be sure to use the lowest sales price in your calculations.

* Find coupons: Grocery stores often put fliers in the mail, and have them at the grocery store as well. But smart shoppers will also search for coupons for specific items on their shopping list. is a great place to start searching for such coupons. Started as a blog by Anna Teoli, a busy mom trying to save money, receives coupon information from moms all across the country. Now more than 3 million visitors help keep the special promotions current. Search the site for printable grocery coupons for items on your weekly shopping list. Print them out and save big at the store.

* Buy generic: Grocery chains’ generic brands are often priced lower than other brands because the stores don’t spend on advertising these products. And often the generic versions taste and look exactly like the branded products. Hint: Don’t automatically assume generic is always cheaper. Sometimes when the grocery store is holding a deal on a branded product, the price point will be lower than the generic.

* Check for expiration dates: It doesn’t do you any good to shop smartly if you come home and discover you have to throw food away because the expiration date has passed. Check for these dates especially on meat and dairy products, or anything found in the refrigerator section.

Being an educated shopper at the grocery store means you can keep your weekly grocery bill at a reasonable level, even with anticipated elevated grocery prices. Put the savings back into your pocket for a fun activity at a later date.