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It’s probably one of your biggest bills — groceries. But you have to eat right? Not to mention paper products, cleaning supplies, school supplies, and other small items – especially if you’re shopping for a family – that can add up. It may seem like even if you make a budget for the grocery store, you seem to spend more than you planned every single time. It’s a common problem, and we’re here to help! We’ve got a few tips to help you slim down your grocery bill and save money for other needs (or maybe just to splurge on fancy ice cream once in awhile).

1.     Make a list

Probably the Golden Rule when it comes to grocery shopping, and that’s why it’s the first on the list! There’s an old saying that, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, and it certainly applies to grocery shopping. Walking into the store with no plan and no idea what you want is a recipe for unexpected items to end up in your cart and your total at the end of the trip to skyrocket. Make a list of what you need for your next few meals and stick to it!

2.     Don’t shop when you’re hungry

Okay, so maybe we have two Grocery Golden Rules. Just like a list, make sure you don’t head to the store with an empty stomach. Everything will look delicious! You’ll decide you want cookies for dinner, with a side of mashed potatoes, and maybe that rotisserie chicken for good measure… have a snack (or better yet, a real meal!) before you go and you won’t end up with hunger-induced impulse buys in your cart.

3.     Buy in bulk

Depending on what you need, buying in bulk can really save you some money! Bulk grains, beans, coffee, and other dry goods are usually cheaper to buy than the packaged and smaller quantity versions. This goes for produce, too – pre-cut and packaged melons are almost always a few dollars more than the whole version. Want watermelon with your lunch? Rather than a $10 container, buy a whole watermelon for half that price and chop it yourself! It may take a little more work, but you’ll get more fruit for less money. An extremely economical choice! 

4.     Use coupons

Pretty simple concept – coupons are immediate savings. Don’t be shy about cutting coupons from the newspaper or the store circulars. If you know what you have coupons for ahead of time, you can plan your meals around what’s on sale and save a ton of money on everything you planned to buy anyway.

5.     Buy store brands

Not picky about brands? Good, you shouldn’t be! Store brands are oftentimes just as good as popular name brands—and depending on the factory, may even be the same product! They’re also usually a few bucks cheaper, so it’s an easy way to save without sacrificing your favorite products.

These are just a few tips to get you started. Keep researching tricks to make it easier to spend less on groceries (Bring a calculator! Use a smaller cart!), and before you know it, you’ll have more room in your budget without settling for less in your fridge.