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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Consumers Can Save Money Every Time They Go Grocery Shopping

LAS CRUCES--Food is considered cheap in the United States, but some families still find it hard to stretch their dollars at grocery stores. In addition to using coupons and taking advantage of weekly bargains, shoppers can save money by following a few tips.

"Grocery shopping should always start with a plan," said Susan Wright, consumer education specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "For example, if you shop once a week, consider the food you'll need for seven breakfasts, seven lunches and seven dinners. Write down what you'd like to eat, and then make a list of the foods you need for those meals."

Making a list of grocery items can help people avoid impulse buying that increases their grocery bills, she said. Learning how to read labels can help consumers judge whether foods are good buys nutritionally.

When shopping, look at products on bottom and top shelves. Many times, they're cheaper, Wrights said. Grocery stores tend to place more expensive brands at eye level.

"You should also be careful when buying products on end-of-aisle displays," she said. "These are terrific sellers for grocery stores, but they may not be better buys than some of the other brands found on the shelves. Furthermore, placing items at the end of an aisle doesn't allow consumers to easily compare prices."

The same is true for other items on sale, Wright said. People should be familiar with regular food prices. "Just because it's on sale, doesn't mean it's the best bargain."

Generic or store-brand items usually cost less than name brands, although many people worry about sacrificing quality, Wright said. Many of these brands, however, offer a "satisfaction or your money-back" guarantee.

"Some families buy larger quantities or in bulk to save money," she said. "But buying more isn't always the best deal. Many times, smaller-sized packages are less expensive per unit than their large counterparts. So, know what your getting before you pay your money."

Families also should only buy quantities of foods they can use. There's no point in getting a gallon of milk or a 20-pound bag of potatoes, if they're left to spoil, Wright said. Proper storage can help stretch your food dollars.