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Getting More From the Store continued...

On the other hand, these are the kinds of sensible-seeming decisions that later make a person -- or a spouse -- say, "What were you thinking?"

Here are the experts' tips on how to get more from your trip to the store:

  • Values aren't price tags. "You can't leave your values at the front door," Mick says. "If you are mindful about what you choose in relation to your goals and values, you should be able to get out of the door with a basket of goods that comes closer to the satisfying and fulfilling sort of products that are best for you."

  • Train yourself to plan ahead. "Know what you are going to make for the week," Hutchinson says. "Do your diet planning before going to the store. Shop for what you planned for -- or at least for your general style of cooking."

  • Pay attention to pricing. "People don't really pay attention to pricing," Hutchinson says. "We all forget to send in the rebate coupons. And a lot of time there are little shelf pullouts that influence our purchase, but which we never actually use. We are influenced by things we think affect the price -- even a sign that claims 'good value.' Or we assume better price because of large size - something that's not always true."

  • Don't shop when you are hungry. "When people go in hungry, lots of things look good. And you can't eat all that stuff," Stewart says.

  • Stick to your list. "Going in with a list of the things you need and sticking to it will result in you being a more disciplined shopper," Stewart notes.

  • Clip coupons. "Clipping coupons is a really good idea," Stewart says. "Marketers know that the vast majority of coupons go unredeemed. But you can get very substantial savings -- and some grocers will double the coupon. So there is an opportunity for very significant savings."

  • Don't browse if your list is short. "If you go in for milk or bread and end up doing a tour of the store -- there is a reason the store wants you to do that," Stewart says. "The more real estate a retailer can get you to traverse, the more likely it is you will buy something on impulse. So if you are trying to control your spending, don't be a browser."

  • Try brand X. National brands cost more, and you may find you like the store brand better.

  • Don't buy too many perishables. Sure, fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy. "But you could buy a shopping cart full of healthy foods and then, if you're going to be going out for a hamburger, they'll perish in the refrigerator," Stewart warns.

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