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Tips to Avoiding Higher Food Prices

8 ways to stretch your grocery budget during the worst drought in 50 years

4. Shop late in the day. At many meat counters, meat may be marked down twice in the same day, according to the website Coupons.com. The best discounts (as much as 60 percent) come in the evening on leftover "must-sell" items.

5. Become a couponista. Study supermarket circulars, newspapers and websites for coupons and sales. Planning shopping around these discounts can yield major savings: Coupons.com claims a conscientious shopper can trim what would be a $260 weekly grocery bill to $150, saving more than $5,700 a year.

6. Keep an eye on savings, not shelves. In supermarkets, less-expensive items are often positioned on the bottom and top shelves. Eye-level space may be reserved for pricier items.

7. Be smart about preparation. Buy the most affordable beef cuts, but make them taste like top of the line. Cheaper cuts such as chuck, round, plate and flank benefit from a tenderizing marinade before cooking. Less tender roasts and steaks improve with braising or slow cooking.

8. Grow your own. You don't have to buy everything you eat. Plant a vegetable plot in your yard or, if you live in an apartment, create an indoor garden. If you don't have enough space at home, see if you can join a community garden. Find more information at the website of the American Community Gardening Association.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer affairs.

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