Though it may not seem like it, grocery shopping is a prime time to save money every week.

It’s essential to spend money on food but if you take a few extra steps to stretch your budget, trips to the grocery store can also become opportunities to save.

With a little extra preparation, and by following the tips below to save money on groceries, you’ll be able to significantly increase your savings without sacrificing the quality of your meals. Turn this menial task into a mindful experience by making small adjustments to your shopping style.

The True Cost of Groceries

Grocery shopping has become so habitualized that it’s easy to overlook the costs of your go-to food items. However, this normalization of spending $100 or $200 a week can get you into trouble, especially if you’re not tracking your spending.

As Business Insider put it, it’s easy to blow your budget on groceries.

They analyzed a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Surveys to compare how much Americans pay for food and found that, on average, Americans spend between $314-516 per month on groceries alone. When you factor in eating out, house size and special dietary needs that amount can easily double.

So how do you keep from overspending on groceries while not compromising food variety and taste? There are a variety of strategies you can practice to do just that.

15 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Each Time Your Shop

Cutting costs does not always mean sacrificing quality. There are numerous ways you can reduce your grocery budget that take minimal effort.

1. Be prepared

To save money while grocery shopping, it all comes down to preparation. By coming up with an adequate budget and food or meal list before you shop, you will be more successful in only buying what you need.

If it’s your first time creating a grocery budget, try to average out how much you’ve been spending weekly on food by looking through receipts and online payments. Factor in any special occasions, or impulse buys so that you have a little wiggle room. By writing out a shopping list before you shop, you can estimate how much money you will spend before you even step foot in the door.

2. Get creative with your ingredients

When the week is almost over, I usually find myself scouring my fridge and cabinets for food. Though at first glance it feels like I have nothing to make, upon a return to the kitchen I end up finding ingredients to make an unexpected meal.

Don’t run to the store right away before experimenting with the food you already have. It could be delicious!

3. Purchase food that is in season

Ever wonder why strawberries are half the price during summer? Save money the easy way by buying food and vegetables when they are in season. If you haven’t already committed the seasonal foods to memory, check your grocery lists against this seasonal shopping guide.

4. Know your store’s sales cycles

If you’re shopping at the same grocery stores each week, you’re probably more accustomed to their sales cycles than you think. Try to track when certain products go on sale so that you can purchase them at a discounted price.

5. Never shop hungry

This is a very basic and effective way to save money while grocery shopping. Always eat a meal before you shop to avoid adding extra food to your cart.

6. Don’t forget about coupons!

Check the weekly flyers, apps and rebate promotions to utilize coupons every time you grocery shop. Coupons add up to real savings, especially when you learn how to stack them.

7. Bring your own bags

Bringing your own bags not only benefits the environment, but will save you around 25 cents per bag every time. If you shop every week, this adds up to huge savings.

8. Skip pre-packaged products

Opt out of buying pre-packaged or prepared meals like salad kits when you can. Though the convenience is appreciated, many of these products have inflated prices when compared to buying the ingredients separately.

9. Practice proper storage

Saving money on food not only applies to the items you buy, but also what you do with that food after you bring it home. By properly storing your food in airtight tupperware and by freezing leftovers, your food and budget will last longer.

10. Skip the meat

A steak here and there is okay but if you’re buying meat for every meal, your total is likely to be higher. Try substituting meat with vegetable and vegetarian products and watch your bill go down.

11. Forgo name brands

Save a little money by purchasing store brands and generic alternatives to your favorite foods. Oftentimes you’ll find that many of these foods have the exact same ingredients as name brands.

12. Try growing food yourself

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow some smaller products and herbs yourself instead of buying them. This not only will save you money but it will help you use only what you need.

13. Stick to your list

Having a grocery list with you while you shop will help you avoid buying extras. When in doubt of what to buy, stick to your list and thank yourself for paving your way to savings.

14. Shop alone

Not everyone has the same budget. If you’re easily influenced, try shopping alone instead of with your roommates, so that you don’t add unnecessary food to your cart.

15. Buy in bulk (when it’s cheaper)

Buying in bulk isn’t always the answer to saving money, but it can be efficient for certain products. Buying paper products, toiletries and dried goods in bulk will help reduce your overall monthly budget (plus, you won’t have to stock up at the store as often).

It’s Easy to Save Money While You Shop

Saving money doesn’t have to be an extensive task. If you can find ways to cut costs from your weekly activities, like reducing your food budget, then you will be able to save money without even trying.

There are also tons of websites and apps designed to help you save money. If you’re a fan of coupons and want to get cash back rebates, try browsing the products on RebateKey. Similarly to other popular couponing sites, RebateKey provides a constant rotation of discounts and coupons on a range of products. You can also shop directly on the site and get cash back rebates in the mail. Access all of those benefits today by simply signing up for a free account.

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