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15 Ways to Immediately Save Money on Groceries

Ready to cut grocery costs? Here are some of our top tips for cost-efficient grocery shopping.

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rows of parked grocery shopping cartsCatherine McQueen/Getty Images

There are few things we love more than grocery shopping, although we’re partial to the delicious dinners that come afterward. But we know that shopping for the family can quickly add up. On average, a weekly grocery bill for a family of four can run between $150 and $300. That’s why we’ve compiled some of our favorite ways to save money while grocery shopping to keep your wallet and your family happy.

How do you save money on groceries? Share your tips with us!

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German Grocery Chain Aldi To Invest $3.4 Billion Into U.S. StoresScott Olson/Getty Images

Find a place to buy cheap groceries

Fresh veggies, high-quality meat, delicious and healthy snacks—those don’t have to come with a high price tag. Stores like Trader Joe’s, Aldi and Sprouts have great deals without the markup. Take the time to research grocery stores in your area and figure out who has the best prices. It’ll pay off on your next grocery bill!

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Canned Goods on Kitchen Pantry ShelfBoogich/Getty Images

Build an inventory

At least once a month, go through your freezer and pantry to take stock of what you have and what you don’t need to buy. When you’re at the store, you won’t impulse-buy an item you already have, and you won’t be wondering about what else you might need.

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Fresh fruits and vegetables in paper bag on wooden table. Concept of healthy vegan food; laptop and telephone on table.Anna Blazhuk/Getty Images

Shop for groceries online

Shopping online can keep you more cost-conscious (you see prices going up on your screen), and it prevents impulse buys. You can also easily reference your fridge and pantry to see what you really need, rather than just guessing. Weekly grocery subscription services, like Misfits Market, can make shopping even cheaper.

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Black women examining cheese in grocery storeGranger Wootz/Getty Images

Look at the price tag

How good of a deal is it really? Don’t be deceived by a sales tag next to your favorite snack—instead, look at the unit cost per item, which can reveal that an option that looks cheaper might just be a smaller size. The best bang for your buck will be the lowest unit cost. Don’t miss all of our tips for saving money at the grocery store.

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Close-up of meat in displayWavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Buy things in bulk

This doesn’t just apply to toilet paper. Buying pricey food like meat in quantity can dramatically cut costs down the road. Ordering from a meat supplier is a great way to save, but be aware that to get deals, you might have to order up to 40 pounds of chicken breasts or beef at once. If you don’t have the space, split the order with a friend.

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Stock up when there’s a sale

Most of us love a sale. And when it comes to groceries, you can save serious dough thanks to discounts as you stock up. To take full advantage, see if your grocery store has a newsletter that advertises upcoming sales, so you can plot your purchases around them. You can even stock up on certain types of produce or meat, and toss them in the freezer to avoid spoilage.

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Go shopping once a week

As far as math equations go, it’s pretty simple: the less you’re shopping, the more you’re saving. You’ll reduce impulse purchases and save money, time and gas by only heading to the store once a week. Plus, it will get you into the habit of planning ahead for the whole week, helping you organize your meals in advance. Don’t forget to bookmark this list of easy meal prep ideas you’ll actually use!

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Blue Bell Creameries Recalls All Products After Listeria ContaminationJamie Squire/Getty Images

Look for substitutes

Saving isn’t about cutting out what makes you happy but about shopping smarter. Each time you get back from the store, review your receipts to find the most expensive items. Can you substitute something else, or a different brand, next week? There are tons of pantry staple recipes you can make yourself for much less money.

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Woman sorting coupons at supermarket, close-up, mid sectionAndersen Ross/Getty Images

Use coupons

There’s no better friend for a thrifty shopper than coupons. Find them in your store’s weekly flyer, or check out sites like coupons.com and redplum.com. Then use the coupons wisely. There’s no rush as long as you’re aware of the expiration date, so wait for items to go on sale to stack up discounts on discounts.

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Senior Hispanic woman shopping in grocery storeSollina Images/Getty Images

Be a loyal shopper

Variety may be the spice of life, but it isn’t the best way to save money. Stick to frequenting one grocery store, and take advantage of their loyalty program. You’ll start to rack up rewards, learn their promotions and become familiar with how the program works so you can score freebies and generous markdowns.

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Man Reading Nutrition LabelFuse/Getty Images

Prepare a soundtrack

Our favorite way of feeling like we’re in a movie: Strut your stuff to a mix of upbeat songs while you shop, instead of the slower-paced tunes the store is playing. Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, found that the stores’ songs actually make us move slower, leading buyers to reach for more.

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Concept Photo of a Woman Scanning Strawberries at the Grocery Store Self Checkout ServiceFatCamera/Getty Images

Say adieu to the cashier

Opt for the self-checkout line. Not only will the wait time generally be shorter—a perk we can get behind—but you’ll have less chance to linger around the sweets and last-minute temptations near the cashier. A study by IHL Consulting Group found self-checkout slashed impulse buys by 32% for women and 17% for men. You’ll also be more conscious of what you’re buying, giving you an opportunity to pass on any impulse items that might have wandered into your cart.

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Woman in a shopping mallCoolpicture/Getty Images

Pay attention to weight

An item’s sticker price can only tell you so much, but look closer and you’ll see how much it costs per ounce or gram. Compare different brands, and different amounts between brands, to score the best deal.

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Mature man eating breakfast in the morning10'000 Hours/Getty Images

Eat first, then shop

You’ve heard it before and we’re going to say it again: Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Studies have shown you’ll be tempted to grab more than you need, especially high-calorie snacks you’d otherwise avoid.

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Black woman biting sandwichGranger Wootz/Getty Images

Use what you have

We love nothing more than diving into a new recipe. But rather than picking one with all-new (and potentially expensive) ingredients, find a recipe that allows you to use what you already have at home. The best trick? Look at the leftover ingredients from last night’s dinner, and build today’s meal around that. It’ll reduce how much food you have to throw away and how many ingredients you have to buy. Use this inspiration to make dinner with your pantry staples!

Kim Bussing
Kim Bussing is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She has written for publications including Reader’s Digest, Modern Farmer, Clean Plates and Vice, among others, and she is working on her first novel. She is always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cinnamon roll.