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Shopping on a budget? Tips for saving money on your groceries

Does your grocery store bill make you nauseous? 

Grocery bills can rack up very quickly for families. With high grocery prices, it can seem impossible to save money when it comes to food and sustenance for your family. While it can be challenging to cut down on food costs, it’s not impossible.

Below are 10 things you can do to save money at the checkout line. 

Woman shopping for groceries

Food can be a big bill for families. Using coupons, taking advantage of sales and planning meals ahead of time can help you save money.  (Paola Chapdelaine for The Washington Post via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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  1. Don’t skip the coupons
  2. Meal plan
  3. Shop at different stores
  4. Buy in bulk if it makes sense for your family
  5. Don’t shop on an empty stomach
  6. Buy generic
  7. Check expiration dates on items
  8. Take advantage of cash back credit cards
  9. Sign up for store loyalty programs
  10. Avoid delivery

1. Don’t skip the coupons 

It can be a pain to go through coupons, but they can save you in the long run. 

Luckily, the process of finding coupons today is easier than it used to be. While stores do offer paper coupons you can still cut out, many stores also have digital coupons that you can pull up on your phone. 

Before heading to the store, look for coupons you can use to bring your bill down. 

2. Meal plan

If you head through the doors of the grocery store with no idea what you’re going to cook for the week, you’re going to overspend. 

Before you go, think about what dishes you plan on making, check to see what ingredients you already have and then write down those you need. 

woman working from home

Plan out your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list of everything you need before heading to the store.  (iStock / iStock)

When it comes to snacks and meals for the week, take inventory of your pantry and fridge first to make sure you aren’t wasting money on duplicate items. 

Once you have your list together, stick to it as best you can.

3. Shop at different stores

Different stores have different weekly deals. One store may be having a sale on fruit, while another may have a sale on chicken.

If you have the time, going to different stores to buy items on sale can save you money. When you have your list together, figure out if any of your items are on sale. If they are, make a note to buy that specific item at that store. 

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If the multiple stores you are stopping at are far apart, and you’ll be spending more on gas than saving, so this hack is not worth it. But if there are stores in proximity, it may be worth the extra trip.

woman grocery shopping

You may have to visit different stores to find the best deals.  (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

4. Buy in bulk if it makes sense for your family

Buying in bulk from wholesale stores like Costco can save you money if it makes sense for your family size. 

There are memberships for these stores. So, if you aren’t shopping there often, the membership cost may not be worth the price.

You’ll also need to keep in mind that you’ll need more storage space for larger items. If you live in a small apartment, buying in bulk might not work for you.

Again, compare the prices at stores like Costco to other grocery stores to determine if buying in bulk makes sense for you.  

5. Don’t shop on an empty stomach

If you’re shopping while hungry, you’re most likely going to buy more than you would if you were full. 

Maybe you’ll grab a snack while you shop, the cookie aisle will look more enticing, and you will find yourself with more items in your cart than planned. 

Plus, being hungry is distracting. You’ll be more worried about getting in and out of the store as fast as you can, so you can get something to eat instead of focusing on saving money.

6. Buy generic

An easy money-saving swap you can make is buying generic rather than buying name-brand items.

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Even just switching some of your purchases to store-brand is a good start to saving money. 

7. Check expiration dates on items

Before you put an item in your cart, especially dairy and meat, check the expiration date. 

It’s better to check this while you’re at the store, rather than at home realizing that you have a few days to guzzle a gallon of milk. 

8. Take advantage of cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards are exactly what they sound like. You get cash back for the money that you spend. Since you have to spend money on food, you may as well be rewarded for it. 

You can then use your cash rewards on future grocery purchases. 

Chase Bank credit card with "blink" technology is displayed during a press conference at an Arby's restaurant on June 8, 2005 in Denver, Colo.

Sign up for a rewards credit card that gives you cash back for your purchases.  (Thomas Cooper/Getty Images / Getty Images)

9. Sign up for store loyalty programs

Sign up for loyalty programs at your favorite stores. Signing up can unlock perks, like exclusive deals, special coupons and sometimes even gas savings. 

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Many loyalty programs are free and easy to sign up for, but others have fees associated with them. Make sure you read the fine print before signing up. 

10. Avoid delivery

While the convenience of having your groceries delivered right to your door is hard to beat, this method of shopping is not going to help your wallet. 

If you intend to save money, do your shopping on your own. Make it a more enjoyable experience by popping in a headphone and listening to music while you shop or going shopping with a friend so you can engage in conversation as you look for the items you need. 

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