Stretch Your Food Dollars

A supermarket flier can be a good starting point for bargains, but Tod Marks of Consumer Reports says you have to know how to spot the sale items.

Marks says, "Supermarket fliers are powerful selling tools. The items featured prominently on the front page are almost always on sale, but you've got to be really careful about the prices of good on the interior pages. That's because manufacturers sometimes simply pay for the privilege of advertising, and there's no sale price involved."

Here's how to navigate and save.

Don't assume items at the end of aisles are always on sale. They're put there to get shoppers to buy more of them.

Also, while single-serving packages are usually more expensive, keep in mind that buying bigger quantities isn't always cheaper.

"In fact, a study showed that 25% of the time, the smaller size actually cost less." Marks says. "Let's take an example of tuna fish. The larger size cost $5.05 a pound, but the smaller size actually cost only $4.25 a pound.

Depending on where you find an item, it can cost more or less. For example, cheese at the deli counter might be pricier than cheese in the dairy case one week, then less expensive the next.

Other things to consider:

--You'll almost always pay more for convenience.
--Use preferred-shopper store cards in order to get discounts automatically, no coupons needed.

You can always save money by checking out and for high-tech coupon clipping. But, always double check if your grocery stores accept these coupons as there have been problems with fraudulent ones.

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