There is one basic rule for grocery shopping... never enter a store without a list.

There are two kinds of grocery shoppers in America: the savers and the spenders. It is generally true that the savers plan their shopping trips and have a list, and the spenders go up and down every aisle buying what appeals to them.

We should all strive to be savers.

This information should help you to save while making sure that you always have what you need.

1) Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. This is the most important step to take before grocery shopping. The list should include the staples you're running out of (milk, coffee, eggs, butter, etc.), and the food you need for the week ahead. When you buy things that aren't on your list, you risk having your shopping trips get out of control. A magazine may only costs $ 5, but if you spend an extra $ 5 every week, you've wasted $ 240 at the end of the year.

You may want to create a list of your usual purchases with space to add on to it at the bottom. Leave a check-off box to mark off items for which you have coupons. Make copies of the list and keep it in the kitchen. When it comes time to go shopping, you can just circle what you need, without having to rewrite the same items over and over again.

2) Get a Savings Card from your supermarket. Almost every super market chain offers a savings card. The card allows you to save on certain items without having coupons. The cards are free from the customer service desk. When shopping for things already on your list, look for the super saver savings on some brands, and buy the brand that is least expensive. Always compare by unit price.

3) Pay attention to unit pricing. The bulk package isn't always the best buy. Sometimes the bulk item is cheaper, sometimes it's more expensive. The only way you can be sure is to compare. Grocery stores post unit pricing for most items, which makes comparisons easy.

4) Use Coupons. Coupons add up to big bucks. Clip coupons only for things you regularly buy. Spend a little time online to save a lot of money. There are many sites offering coupons and grocery savings to savvy shoppers. My favorite is couponsandforms.com where you order coupons for products that you use at pennies on the dollar.

5) Don't even look at things you don't need. Grocery stores pay marketing people a lot of money to tell them where to place the "impulse buy" items. It is no accident that cookie displays block traffic in the aisles. The intention is for the cookies to catch your attention and end up in your cart. Be strong and walk away.

6) Spend less time in the middle of the store. Most of the fresh food is found on the perimeter aisles. It is usually healthier and cheaper. Only go the center aisles for specific things on your list. There is never a need to go up and down every aisle.

7) When possible, try the generic products. Generic and store brand products tend to be cheaper than their name-brand equivalents and are usually similar in quality. The difference is in the packaging. Most generics have blah packaging. Who cares?

8) Make one large trip on a full stomach. Reduce your trips to the store. Avoid opportunities for temptation by shopping after a satisfying meal. Saving time and fuel.

9) Double check your receipt. Coupons and sale items tend to get entered into the computer wrong. Be sure to watch the price of each item as it's scanned. If you suspect an error, step to the side and check your receipt. If there's a mistake, ask for a refund.

I find that grocery shopping, while following these few simple rules, is fun. I challenge myself each week to save more than the week before, and to never run out of toilet paper in the process!

Christine Simiriglia is a Professional Organizer, Organizational Management Consultant and Chief Operating Officer for a non-profit corporation. Her free monthly e-zine, Organize More, is a compilation of the best the web has to offer. You can subscribe at http://organize-more-stress-less.com/about.html

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