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Try these easy tips for saving at the grocery store

Let’s face it, many monthly expenses are fixed. You can’t easily reduce your mortgage, rent, insurance or car payments. But there’s one expense you can control: grocery shopping.

Below are a few secrets of frugal shoppers you can use today.

Shop your refrigerator and pantry first. Make plans to use what you already have. Keep a list of pantry staples to always keep on hand and stock up only when they go on sale. Before you shop always make a list and stick to it.

Read the weekly sales ads for all the stores in your area. Look for the “loss leaders.” Those are the bargains, often sold at a loss meant to lure you into the store. The hope is you’ll also buy milk, bread and other staples at full price to make up for the loss. So get the bargains and leave your staples shopping for the store with the best shopper rewards.

Shop on Tuesday. Most store sales run from Wednesday to Tuesday but the ads are delivered on Tuesday. This means you can see what’s on sale next week to be sure you’re not buying something that’s about to go on sale tomorrow.

Get rain checks. If you see sale items that are out of stock take time to get a rain check. This way you can get the sale price for the next 30 days. They’ll ask how much you intend to buy, always say the maximum amount allowed. You can always buy less at the time of purchase. The exceptions are items advertised as “while supplies last”.

Don’t pay for convenience. Instead of purchasing precut vegetables, fruits and meats; allow a few minutes each day to prepare those foods yourself. Pre-packaged crackers and cheese for lunch, puddings in cups and juices in pouches cost more than double their homemade counterparts.

Check the “Oops, we baked too much” section. This is usually at the back of the store. Any bread, cupcakes, cookies or bagels you buy today will be day old in the morning so why not get it at half price?

Breads freeze beautifully so if you find a bounty just pop it in the freezer for later. Check the clearance and dented can sections. Look for out of season and discontinued goods on clearance up to 90 percent off. Depending on store policy you can still use coupons and get items for free.

Just because the store is selling it cheap, doesn’t mean it is bad, it just means it didn’t sell well, has been discontinued or the packaging is being changed by the manufacturer.

Don’t be too afraid of expiration dates. There are times manufacturers use expiration dates on packaging to force the grocery store to discard perfectly good items and order new stock. Items like cake mix, cereal, canned and jarred items are examples of this.

People who apply these tips can save 30 percent or more on their grocery bills. Happy shopping!

Frugal Financial Fodder contributed by Patti Diamond author of Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.

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