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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency’s global food price index dropped for a fourth straight month in July, but was still 13% higher than in July 2021, the agency reported Friday.

FAO said last month’s 8.6% decline was the steepest monthly drop in the value of the index since October 2008.

The index hit an all-time high in March, immediately following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The overall decline in the July index was led by significant drops in the vegetable oil and cereal indexes and lesser declines in the sugar, dairy and meat indexes, FAO said.

The FAO Food Price Index measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. It consists of the average of five commodity groups — cereal, vegetable oil, meat, dairy and sugar.

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Ten things to never buy at the grocery store if you’re trying to save money

AS inflation continues to impact the world around us, people are always looking for new ways to save money.

If you're trying to stick to a budget, we round up some items to steer clear of on your next trip to the grocery store.

1Trips to the grocery store don't have to be budget breakersCredit: Getty

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average monthly grocery bill was $411 in 2020, as cited by U.S. News & World Report.

And as with everything these days, inflation is only making those numbers worse.

In fact, food costs have risen by about 10% since last year.

If you're trying to save cash, below are 10 items to avoid at the grocery store.

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While pre-cut produce might seem appealing, the convenience is costly.

Stores know they can charge a premium for having done the dirty work for you, so save yourself some money by setting aside some time to cut up your produce on your own.

2. Prepared items

The same mentality goes for any prepared items that you may see in your local grocery store.

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This includes things like pre-made sandwiches or pasta dishes, but also meat that's already been cooked, marinated, or seasoned.

Avoid the premium prices by buying the ingredients for whatever meal you have in mind and preparing it yourself at home.

3. Baked goods

Baked goods are another easy way to fall into the trap of pricey prepared treats.

According to food magazine Kitchn, markups on baked goods at the grocery store's bakery counter can be as high as 300%.

Instead, you can grab a box of muffin mix and make yourself a whole batch for around as much as you'd pay for an already made muffin.

4. Bottled water

There's no greater example of paying for convenience than bottled water.

According to a report from Reader’s Digest, bottled water can have a markup of as much as 4,000%.

Reader's Digest reports that the water bottle you'll pay two dollars for in the store costs manufacturers just five cents to produce.

An alternative that is much better for both your wallet and the planet is a reusable water bottle that you can fill at home, whether it's through a filtration system or straight from your faucet.

5. Name-brands

Plenty of name-brand items can be sold at high prices because the companies know people will pay a premium for the name, despite some store-brand alternatives being just as good.

This is especially true for products like cereals and spices, where the ingredients going into them can be so basic that the store-brands are sometimes essentially the same for far less money.

If you want to know how a name-brand product matches up against its store-brand counterpart, just check the ingredients on both before you decide.

6. Fresh seafood

While the fresh seafood at the grocery store counter can be tempting, the freshness comes with a pricey premium.

Instead of buying the fish right off the line, shopping the frozen alternative can save you money without sacrificing quality.

Food and recipe magazine The Spruce Eats says frozen fish can be up to 20% cheaper than the fresh variety.

7. Greeting cards

The greeting card section of the grocery store is visually exciting, but there are multiple alternatives that are far more budget-friendly.

Once again you're paying a convenience-centered premium for something you could just as easily do yourself.

You can grab cards at the dollar store, or buy blank cards in bulk and customize them for whatever special occasion pops up.

For the environmentally conscious card sender, there's always the option of sending free e-cards as well.

8. Magazines

The ever alluring magazine section of the grocery store looks as enticing as it does for a reason.

And the premium prices of a one-time magazine purchase will cost you.

Before paying five dollars for a magazine that caught your eye, consider alternatives such as your local library, which may not only offer current issues of popular magazines, but also backlogs for those looking to catch up.

If you're only interested in a specific article or two listed on the cover, try searching the internet to see if they're available to read for free.

9. Toilet paper

Toilet paper is the ultimate buy in bulk product; you'll always need it, it never goes bad, and you never want to be stuck without it.

It's also better for your wallet to buy toilet paper in bulk at the big box stores like Costco, instead of the smaller packages at premium prices that you might see at your grocery store.

10. Party supplies

With people gathering in person once again, it can be tempting to go all out on your party supplies.

Grocery store party supplies are priced at the convenience-based premium that comes with the concept of one-stop shopping.

But for those looking to save money, things like paper plates, plastic cups, and balloons can all be purchased at dollar stores for up to half of what you'll pay at grocery stores.

How to cut grocery costs

There are a number of tips to follow to slash your grocery shop every single time, including meal planning and using coupons.

Combine the two and you'll find yourself saving even more money.

It's also important to shop around so you're getting the best deals.

If you're on a low income, you may also qualify for food stamps - more recently known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP households are expected to spend about 30% of their own resources on food.

Depending on your income and household size, the maximum monthly benefit amount is $250 for a single-person household while a household of four can get up to $835

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For more money tips for your grocery trips, check out our other guides.

Plus, a savvy shopper has shared how she swapped an overpriced food item for a cheap Aldi product instead.

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