Consumer Reports: Saving on Groceries

April 3, 2012 3:39:09 AM PDT
It's not just Donald Trump who's screaming, "You're fired!" A just-released survey of Consumer Reports subscribers found one in three shoppers has dumped their supermarket.

The main complaint: prices. Even if you don't switch supermarkets, Consumer Reports says switching strategies can slice your grocery bill in half.

Are you a harried shopper who buys whatever catches your eye? Does your grocery bill send you into a state of shock?

Consumer Reports' Tod Marks shopped for 30 everyday items and says the type of shopper you are makes a big difference.

First, Marks played the role of an "impulsive shopper" who never shopped for bargains. Next, he was a "savvy shopper" who scoured flyers and used savings cards and coupons. Then, he was a "store-brand fan," buying only store brands.

"I found you could save hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year, if you shop smarter," said Marks.

For example, orange juice. The impulsive shopper paid $1.89 a quart. The savvy shopper got it for $1.36, and the store-brand fan paid even less -- $1.25. For tomato sauce, the impulsive shopper paid 7.99, while the savvy shopper and the store-brand fan both got it for $1.67.

And look at the savings on cream cheese. The impulsive shopper paid $3.29, while the savvy shopper spent $2.32 and the store-brand fan got it for $0.99.

In all, Marks cut his more-than-$241 impulsive shopper grocery bill to $87 as a store-brand fan.

"But you can still save money on your favorite national brands, if you stock up and save when they're on sale. And that happens all the time," said Marks.

So, to get the greatest possible savings, use lots of smart tactics, including flyers, bonus cards, and store coupons in order to cut down on money spent at the grocery store.

Consumer Reports also compared prices at Costco and found you can save almost as much at a warehouse club as by buying store brands. But bigger packages don't work for a small family. Also, keep in mind that bigger packages don't always mean the best value. You still need to check prices carefully.

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