More ways to save on groceries

By Mark Bullock - bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - It's not just gas prices hitting record highs these days. The cost of food is also soaring. Experts blame everything from weather to world markets to the weak dollar.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows flour, eggs, peppers, and milk lead the pack with double digit price increases over the past year.

So what can you do to cut costs? WSFA 12 News Reporter Mark Bullock went to the grocery store for this week's Money Saving Mondays.

Auburn University food and nutrition expert Barbara Struempler always checks the Sunday circulars. And she only buys what she needs. Take bottled water for example.

"It could save you a lot of money if you just go back to the old fashioned way and turn on the tap," she joked.

Struempler says iced tea is also often overpriced. Make it at home instead.

Skim is the cheaper choice when it comes to buying milk. You can save even more by cutting it with the powdered version.

Experts also recommend against ready-made juice. Concentrate is up to 5 cents cheaper per ounce.

In fact, price per ounce is the best way to ensure you're getting a good deal. It's usually right on the shelf.

"It's probably the one thing people need to learn to read if they want to save money," Struempler said.

By reading the price per ounce, we confirmed store brand food often costs less than the national brand.

When you're browsing, make sure you look at products at the top and bottom of the shelves. The ones at eye level are often the most expensive.

There are some things you don't want to buy in the grocery store. Non-food items like laundry detergent and paper towels might be cheaper somewhere else.

Among her other tips, Struempler says don't pay more for brown eggs or organic brands. And buy in bulk, unless you think the food will spoil before its consumed.

In the produce section, avoid those bags of pre-cut lettuce.

"When the store starts washing and cleaning and chopping and cutting, it's going to raise the price considerably," Struempler explained.

The same is true in the meat department. We found a whole chicken that was cheap, compared to breasts already cut and skinned.

"Just use what you want that night, then freeze the rest," Struempler told us.

Much of the advice is common sense. Just think before you buy.

"The food's not going to come down, so we need to be smarter when we shop," Struempler said.

Throw in a few coupons (on double coupon day, of course) and you're well on your way to a more affordable food bill.