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10 Ways to Cut Grocery Bills

SavingSmart (SM), a premier membership discount program offered by Adaptive Marketing LLC, shares Americans' concerns about rising food prices. Here are 10 strategies to help families save money when grocery shopping.

1. Factor in gas when chasing sales

It may not make sense to drive to multiple stores each week for different sale items if the money spent on gas exceeds grocery savings.

2. Don't be store-loyal

Supermarkets aren't the only retailers selling groceries these days, notes AP9*SavingSmart. Many big-box stores, drug stores, warehouse clubs, discount supermarkets and even well-known online retailers offer groceries, household cleaning supplies and personal care items.

3. Sign up for email sale circulars

Sign up for supermarket email circulars containing each week's sale items to help plan ahead, advises SavingSmart. Signing up for more than one can help organize supermarket runs, based on which store is offering the best sales. Try to organize the family's weekly menu based on what's on sale that week. Use coupons, which most supermarkets double, to coincide with a sale and save even more.

4. Compare prices by unit costs

Always compare prices by the unit cost, which is based on the cost of the item per ounce, quarter, gallon or pound, not the item cost. This can help shoppers determine what size package offers the greatest cost savings. Larger quantities don't always offer the best prices.

5. Store brands rule

Store brands are less expensive than name brands, and there is no difference in quality.

6. Buy in bulk

Most discounted items go on sale in regular 10 or 12-week cycles, says Saving Smart. Stock up on items the family regularly consumes. Remember that many items, like milk, orange juice or bread, freeze well.

7. Go vegetarian

Consider replacing red meat in at least some meals with a less expensive (and more healthy) source of protein, such as beans, suggests AP9 SavingSmart. Free online recipe sites like www.recipezaar.com offer plenty of meal ideas.

When choosing red meat, save money by buying cheaper, less tender cuts of beef, such as round, chuck and shoulder, and use the pressure cooker or slow cooker to make an equally delicious meal.

8. Stay in season

Never buy fresh fruits and vegetables out of season, when they're priced highest.

9. End aisles

Pay attention to the supermarket end aisles, where sale items are usually placed.

10. Look up; look down

Trying to rush in and out of the store means overlooking the best deals, so take the time to compare prices. The brands that dominate the market are placed at eye level; look at the top and bottom shelves for lesser known but more affordable brands, suggests SavingSmart.

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