Have you changed your grocery shopping habits?

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The rising food prices have hit everyone in the pocketbook. Almost no food item is immune to an increased price when the cost to make or grow food has gone up so dramatically. Probably the single biggest contributor to this problem is ethanol. Ethanol is a jackpot for corn growers, but a nightmare for consumers. While farmers sell their corn for this inefficient, expensive fuel, those who used to use corn for animal feed or ingredients in their food products are feeling the pain.

Media reports show food prices up 5% in 2007. With that kind of increase, families are forced to be more frugal with their grocery dollars, looking for bargains and buying more economical items. U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that a family of four now spends $904 a month for food, compared to $824 a month two years ago. I don't think it has caused a huge hardship for many quite yet, as we could all be a little more conscious of how we're spending on groceries.Yet soon such increases will become a hardship, and it doesn't seem like there's much that can be done about it. Discount grocers like Wal-Mart and warehouse stores like Sam's Club and Costco are benefiting from the tightening of budgets.

How have you changed your grocery shopping habits to account for the rising prices? Are you more inclined to plant a garden this year? How do you find the best bargains? Are there little-known places to get super deals in your town? Share you grocery buying jackpots with other readers!

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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