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One of the best ways you can save money on your grocery bills is to move away from costly name brand items and start buying more products that carry the store's name instead.

But in recent months, if you're a particularly frugal shopper, you've probably noticed that the price of these items is rising. In fact, a recent study found that the cost of store branded products has risen 5.3% in the last year, compared with the industry-wide price increase of just 1.9%. Sometimes, these store brand items can now be more expensive on a per-volume basis than name brand products.

In addition, prices for store brand perishable foods are up 12% in the last year, compared with an 8% increase for name brands. However, the average cost of any store brand item is still about 29% less expensive than its better-known counterpart.

But because of this shift in prices, it's more important than ever to carefully consider what you're actually paying for when you go grocery shopping. For example, the rise in per-volume store brand costs means you should carefully look at the price per ounce to determine what is the best possible deal, even if it means giving up your favored brand in favor of a less expensive alternative.

You may be able to research these prices online or in your newspaper's weekly circulars - some stores even list the prices for their products side by side with those for name brands as a means of enticing shoppers to compare and save.  But in some cases, this might not be possible. As a consequence, you might want to set aside some extra time at the store to price match the per-ounce cost of an item before putting it in your cart.

Meanwhile, many manufacturers are now offering consumers more coupons that,  when combined with those issued by stores themselves either in circulars or through loyalty rewards programs, can reduce the cost of name brand merchandise and save you a considerable amount. For this reason, it's always important to take the time to price match and carefully plan your shopping trips in advance, including making a list and arranging all your coupons.