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- The grocery store can really eat up a budget — the monthly median spending on food for American families is roughly $520.
- But anyone can cut up to 50% off their grocery bill, according to Coupons.com's Jeanette Pavini.
- The key to grocery shopping the right way lies in joining your grocery store's loyalty program and being strategic to maximize your member's savings benefits.
But your grocery bill doesn't have to be that high.
"Your grocery bill is one of the few items in your monthly budget where you actually have some control in what you spend and save," consumer savings expert Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com told Business Insider. "Unlike other expenses that are set in stone (think rent, tuition, or mortgage) you actually can cut your grocery bill by up to 50%."
That is, if you shop for groceries the right way. Here are Pavini's steps for saving on groceries:
Join your grocery store's loyalty or rewards program
There's no reason why you shouldn't be a member of your local grocery store's loyalty program — it's free and takes about a minute to sign up, says Pavini.
"Now, you will be able to get all the reward member deals...and I mean deals!" she said.
Those deals become even bigger when you use them with coupons. Pavini previously told Business Insider that being a member of a grocery store loyalty program and using coupons is the cheapest option for foods like cereal, especially for an average family.
Coupons are the perfect example of getting the most bang for your buck once you're a member of your grocery store's loyalty program. To truly maximize the savings you get by being a member, you need to be strategic.
Create a pre-shopping strategy
Before you head to the store, lay out a plan. Don't create a weekly grocery shopping list based solely on the holes in your pantry and empty drawers in your fridge.
"Build your menu around what is on sale at your grocery store," said Pavini, adding that you should look for deals online or in weekly newspaper ads. "Most sales start on Wednesdays."
And don't forget your coupons, which you can also find in weekly newspaper ads or via the Coupons.com app, which adds coupons directly to your loyalty cards in your grocery store's app. At checkout, both the store sales and coupons will come off your total bill.
But your strategy doesn't end there.
Shop smart at the store
Even with your carefully curated grocery list, coupons, and loyalty card in hand, you still need to be a savvy shopper in the grocery store.
If a sale item is out of stock, ask for a rain check, says Pavini. "This means when the item comes back into stock, you will get it at the sale price even if it's not on sale any longer."
You should also compare prices, and don't forget to look high and low while doing so — you can often find less expensive products of the same type of item if it's not at eye level, according to Pavini.
You can also save a lot of money by avoiding pre-cut produce. You're ultimately paying for the convenience of pre-cut produce, and, as Pavini puts it, it doesn't take much time to wash, peel, and cut when you think about the savings.
Another area you can save on is meat.
"Ask your butcher what time of day meat is typically marked down," said Pavini. "This meat is discounted because it's approaching its sell-by date, but it should still be good if you cook it that night or freeze it later."
And typically, a large cut of meat will be cheaper than the same amount cut into smaller pieces, but some butchers will happily cut the large meat into smaller pieces for free if you ask, she added.
All it takes to maximize your savings in the store is a keen eye and a few good questions.
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