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Strategies to cut food costs

Grocery store shopping, for some, is a highly-refined skill. These savvy shoppers compare price trends and coupon deals to maximize food budgets. Save time and money by practicing a few of these strategies for success.

Make a shopping list

Jot down items as your supply runs out, using a dry erase board, a notebook, or some other handy device. Split the list into two parts: what you need now and "stock up" items that you don't need immediately. Stock-up items can wait until you run across a sale, now or later. Then write out your list according to store layout, aisle by aisle. A good list will help you avoid impulse buying.

Buy only what you'll use

Buying to stock up your cupboards for a "rainy day" is an excellent idea, but take care not to buy things you won't use or that will go to waste. Purchase what you need or will need and no more. You will save precious shelf space, spoilage, and keep your pocketbook happy.

Use coupons wisely

A rule of thumb is to use coupons to buy the products that you would purchase anyway, but for less money. Don't clip coupons for items you would never have tried, except for the sale, unless you really need the item. Some coupons are not a good deal. Consider the smarter purchase: a coupon to save $1.00 on two boxes of Lucky Charms at a larger size that get stale before you can eat them, versus buying one box for less at a regular price that you eat before the expiration date.

Eat before you shop

Shopping for food on an empty stomach almost guarantees impulse purchases since everything looks so tasty. Set yourself up for success by eating first, getting organized, gathering your coupons, and heading for the store!

Ready to take charge? To learn more about shopping strategies, check out Coupon Mom. Then gather up some free online coupons available at Boodle.com.