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How to slash your grocery bill Helpful tips for saving money at the supermarket
Supermarket savings cards
Make a list and stick to it. And don't shop hungry. You'll be less tempted to overbuy.

Consider store brands. They're significantly cheaper and often at least as good as their brand-name counterparts.

Compare prices in different areas of the store. Cheese at the deli counter, for example, is often pricier than sliced or chunked cheese in the dairy case.

Weigh the cost of convenience. Prepped and precut foods often cost more. Similarly, you'll pay extra for single servings, such as cereal in disposable bowls.

Evaluate endcaps. Often, products prominently displayed at the ends of aisles aren't actually on sale. Endcaps can also be a destination for merchandise about to expire. So check expiration dates carefully.

Compare unit prices. Big packages are often more economical, but not always, according to studies. In one, the Federal Trade Commission reported that canned tuna, peanut butter, ketchup, canned coffee, and frozen orange juice frequently turned out to be costlier in larger containers. Comparing unit prices (per ounce, etc.) is especially important when one size is on sale.

Clip coupons. Check out Sunday newspaper inserts and consider checking out coupons from Web sites such as www.coolsavings.com, www.valpak.com, and www.smartsource.com. You generally have to supply personal information to register, so familiarize yourself with privacy policies. Just don't let coupons encourage you to buy products you wouldn't otherwise buy.

Get a store card. With a preferred-shopper card, you receive automatic discounts on products in the store circular without clipping coupons. These programs request personal information, which means that the chain can track your purchases. Most chains have strict privacy policies, but it makes sense to review them carefully before joining.

Don't assume all items advertised in circulars are on sale. Manufacturers may have paid for placement.

Beware of last-minute temptations. Single-serving snacks at the checkout counter cost more than multipacks of like items along the aisles.

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