Shrink Your Grocery Bill

If the cost of food is taking too big a bite out of your budget, Consumer Reports can help.

Shopping expert Tod Marks takes you down supermarket aisles to show you surefire ways to slash your grocery bill.

First, avoid impulse buys.

Marks says, "One of the surest ways to save at the supermarket is to choose the store's own brand. On average, you can save 25%."

For instance, a national brand of bread crumbs here is $2.49 for a 15-ounce package.

"I walk another step and look what I've got here...15-ounce can for $0.99. It's on sale. That's less than 50% of the cost of the other product."

The more basic store value brands are cheaper these economy paper towels and toilet paper.

"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.

Most of the time, bigger sizes ARE more economical. But about 25% of the time, smaller is actually a better deal.

"This small can...unit price $0.68 a pound. The bigger can, which you'd think would be a bargain, guess what?" said Marks. "Nearly a dollar a pound. More bang for your buck...smaller can. Check out those unit price labels."

And finally, if you're not using newspaper or online coupons, you're losing money. Also important...

"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.

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%, and manufacturers often pay for ads in them.

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