Amongst all the things we buy on a daily or weekly basis, groceries are the absolute must. If you go back a little and check your receipts, however, you will probably find that you have been spending a lot on filling your fridge and kitchen cupboards – certainly more than you’ve had to. Also, there is the problem of throwing out food that has gone past the expiration date, because you never got around to it. With proper planning and management, your grocery bills could go significantly down. Here are the top 8 tips.

Make Lists

The first and most important rule of grocery-shopping is to do it with a list. Sit down before you leave home and write everything you will need on a piece of paper. Combine that with making a meal plan for the coming week so you know exactly which products you will need. When you reach the store and take out your list, stick to it. Impulse buys can increase your bill significantly, but you can save yourself from that with your strict plan.

Be Careful with Excessive Coupon Use

Much similar to the advice we gave on saving on clothes, shopping with coupons comes with a danger sign. Make sure to make your shopping list first and then take only the coupons that are relevant to it. You can also do the opposite – check the available coupons first and then make your meal plan according to them. Just don’t buy something purely for the reason of having a coupon for it. You are not actually saving any money that way.

Never Go Shopping Hungry

Going to the store with an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. As you probably know well, everything looks incredibly delicious when your belly is rumbling and the danger of impulse buys rises significantly. On top of the things on your list, you will most likely buy a thousand things you believe you will eat right when you get home. So grab a healthy breakfast or lunch first and then go grocery shopping.

Bring Shopping Trips to a Minimum

The more frequently you go grocery shopping, the bigger the danger of impulse buys will be. Most families work on a one- or two-week basis, buying everything they will need for the period at once and thus limiting their trips to the local shop to a minimum. If you have all products already on hand, you won’t go out for just a bag of cookies, will you?

Don’t Shop with the Kids

You know how shopping with the kids goes – big, flashy and colourful signs attract their attention like a magnet and they will stomp their feet until they get that chocolate bar, or plush toy, or whatever it is. Save the shopping trips for when the children are at school. If that’s not an option, make arrangements for play dates with other mums – they watch your children while you shop and vice versa.

Fruit and Veg in Season

Fruit and vegetables are an incredibly important part of every family’s menu so you have to make sure you are always well stocked. However, don’t just stick to tomatoes and apples all year round. Yes, supermarkets do have everything whatever the month, but if the item is not in season it costs much more. Check to see which fruit and vegetables grow when and buy them only at that time.

Generic Brands for Basic Items

Big supermarkets usually have their own brands and offer them at much lower prices. Many people stay away from these as they fear the quality, but that is not always an issue. For meat and dairy products, for example, it is preferable to choose the name brands. But for basics such as rice, flour, salt and sugar, etc. the store brands offer the same quality only cheaper. Do check the ingredients and nutrition information on cheaper brands though to check they are not full of rubbish.

More for Less

You are probably familiar with the fact that bigger packages are cheaper in the long run. The problem with that is that when you buy more of everything, your bill goes up quite a lot. So spread out your basics, the things it makes sense to buy more of. Buy a big bag of flour this week, a big bag of laundry detergent the next, etc. Make a one- or two-month plan for those things that are necessary in your home at all times and buy more for less.

In a word, saving on groceries is all about planning. Don’t just grab your bag and go out shopping. Sit down, plan your meals, check the coupons, make a list, etc. It might take you a while to get used to, but your planning system will quickly start repaying you.