The rising cost of food has left many looking for ways to save at the grocer. Here are several tips beyond coupons and discount stores:

• PLAN: Plan the week’s meals in advance, then use those menus to generate your shopping list. Stick to your list. Leftovers will help stretch your weekly budget. Avoid tempting displays, coupon savings or advertised bargains unless they are items you really use.

• TIME: Shop when you have time to compare prices and find the best buys. Shopping in a hurry — or when you’re hungry — will rush your decisions and prevent you from finding the best buy or make you more likely to buy unneeded items.

• COMPARE: The best way to comparison shop is to use unit pricing, typically listed on the shelf below the food item. The unit price is the cost of the item per quart, gallon, pound, ounce or other unit of measure.

• CHOOSE: Be wary of convenience foods. They save time, but cost more than preparing a similar item from scratch. Convenience foods are not only more expensive, they are often high in unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium. The more food is prepared by someone else, the more you pay for it.

4ALSO Buy food in season or locally produced; shop weekly, rather than every time you run out of something; plan nutritious snacks; buy what your family will eat and pay close attention to expiration dates. Cut costs, not nutrients by choosing a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.

Source: University of Maine Cooperative Extension

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