Updated: Wednesday, 11 Nov 2009, 8:00 AM EST
Published : Wednesday, 11 Nov 2009, 7:04 AM EST
Newington (WTNH) - When you check out at the grocery store, have you really checked out all the savings you could? If you walk around Stew Leonard's in Newington with state Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, you learn a lot about the best ways to make your dollars count.
For instance, in the produce section, local is better. This time of year, apples grown in Wallingford are less than a dollar a pound. Fruit from far away has a far higher price.
"We have our strawberry season in Connecticut in May and June," Commissioner Farrell said. "It's not that these [packaged strawberries] aren't a great product, but they're not going to be quite as fresh and as available as this apple is."
When you buy fruit and vegetables, take the time to cut them up yourself instead of paying more than double for someone else to do it.
"You know, when you want to cut back on some dollars, you know (precut salad) is $3.99 versus the store bought (lettuce) which you then chop up yourself for $1.69."
Farrell says keep your eye on prices for name brands, like Tropicana OJ at 2 for $10 dollars compared to the store brand juice at two for $5.
"Truth be told, the store brand is almost always going to be cheaper and of the same quality as the name brand."
As you walk around the grocery store with your shopping list, sometimes you want to buy things that aren't on it
"But if you want to keep your wallet in shape and maybe your diet in shape, you don't want to veer off of that list and be tempted by things that are great but they weren't on your list and you don't necessarily need them," Farrell said.
When you find what is on your list, the best way to get the best value is to compare brands, but often they come in different sizes. That's when you look at the unit price.
"It will tell you hey, 16 cents per fluid once versus 25 cents per fluid once."
Here's a tip that's actually a state law: If something rings up incorrectly at the cash register, you actually are entitled to get that item for free. If it rings up wrong, you get it for free, up to $20 and if it's the right kind of item.
"There's a law known as the consumer commodity law, that if it's a consumable item - think of a tube of toothpaste, versus a non-consumable item such as a broom," Farrell said.
If it is the kind of thing that gets consumed and it rings up wrong, you get it free. Of course, no store is going to point it out to you.
"To take advantage of that law, you have to pay attention to things as they are ringing up to make sure that they're correct," Farrell said.
If you have any questions about prices while you're shopping, a lot of stores have those price scanners right there in the aisles. Also, if your store is having a sale, but they ran out of the stuff on sale, get a rain check. It's the law. They have to give you one.