Part 1: Saving money at the grocery store

This year the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts food prices will increase up to five percent, but experts say shopping smarter can help your family weather the store.

"Because the cost of food is continually going up I think we have to be wiser and wiser in our choices and in how we even come to a store," said Edie Sutton with the Purdue Extension, who helps families make better grocery decisions.

One way to save money is to switch to store brand items.

"I think it's real good to compare between a name brand and a store brand and very often that store brand is going to be quite a bit less than the name brand is," said Sutton.

Honey Nut Cheerios sold for up to $4.19 for a 12-ounce box. One store sold it for $2.92. All of the store brands, however, were cheaper with prices as low as $1.59.

"Don't assume the name brand is going to be a better product. Sometimes we'd be surprised to know that many of the products are packaged in the same companies, just with different labels," said Sutton.

Most stores offer 100-percent satisfaction guarantees, so you can return the item if you're not satisfied. Aldi offers a Double Guarantee and will not only refund your money, but give you something else to try.

Milk was another item where prices varied by store and brand.

"It really doesn't matter if you purchase a name brand or store brand milk. They all are healthy dairy product," said Sutton.

On the high end milk sold for $3.59 a gallon, but another for $2.79. Some stores were up to $.30 cheaper when using a loyalty card or store advertisement.

"I would always look at the ads in the store to see what's on sale, and then make some time making out a grocery list," said Sutton. "When you're developing your shopping list, you'll know exactly how much a lot of the products cost, if you're using sale ads, so you won't have that sticker shock at the end. You can calculate yourself how much your receipt will be."

Another popular grocery items is bread. Loaf prices ranged from $1.58 to $1.79 for 100-percent whole wheat bread, but Sutton encourages shoppers to dig deeper when comparing prices.

"Something else that's really important to look at is the price per pound and it's on almost every product it will have it list how much you're paying per pound. There you can compare like products to see which you're getting the best buy from," said Sutton.

At one store selling bread for $1.79, a loaf is $.13 an ounce, while another store sold bread for $1.58, or $.08 an ounce. The best buy was bread for $1.69 or $.07 an ounce.

Lastly, no matter where you shop, shop alone.

"Don't come hungry because then you're going to buy everything that you see and it's really a good idea to come alone or with another adult, someone who is not going to influence you in buying purchases off your list," said Sutton.

Our survey of prices was in line with a Market Force Information study, which found Aldi was the cheapest store overall.

To read the entire study, click here.

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