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Here’s How to Save $56 on Your Grocery Bill This Week

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)

It’s no secret that home-prepped meals can save you big money, but sometimes grocery stores can throw you off your budget game. Artisanal vegan ice cream for the kids? Sure. Prepared antipasto from the deli—oh, it’s a must. Garlic-stuffed olives from the salad bar? Don’t mind if I do! Suddenly, we’re getting rung up to the tune of $234.54 and we’re not even sure what to make for dinner. 

So, how much should you spend on food? Dave Ramsey, financial freedom guru, suggests spending 10 to 15 percent of your paycheck on feeding yourself and your family. Need a few pointers on how to kick bad grocery shopping habits? Below are some quick and easy tips to stretch your grocery budget even further. That way, you can splurge on that fancy cocktail, get the girls together for dinner or take the family out more often.

1. Use cash when you shop 

Studies have shown that we spend less when we use cash. Having a finite budget in mind will keep you from making that impulse buy. Keep a tally (and round up) so you don’t have any unsavory surprises at the register.

Estimated savings: $20

2. Invest in condiments wisely

Instead of buying a premade balsamic vinaigrette dressing that usually runs around $3.99 for 8 servings, skip it. Make your own, with versatile condiments you always have on hand (think olive oil, vinegar, mustard, whatever you like).

Estimated savings: $4

3. Shop by ingredient, not by recipe

Have an arsenal that does double (and triple!) duty and skip esoteric, expensive things you need for only one meal (I’m looking at you, pine nuts). Buying to prep simple dinners, like a big, beautiful salad or an easy, three-ingredient pasta, is not only healthier, but it saves you time and makes your pantry way more flexible.

Estimated savings: $10

4. Buy bulk grains, beans and rice

Go for the dried beans, oatmeal and rice rather than in cans and single servings. A can of beans for $1.29 gives you only about 3 servings, while a bag of dried beans runs $1.49 for 10 servings. You do the math. Bonus: no cans, no sodium, no problem.

Estimated savings: $2

5. Buy frozen fruit instead of fresh

Frozen fruit tastes just as good, but without the pressure of having to bake a pie you’ll never eat—we’ve all made a mediocre banana bread because the bananas went mushy brown sitting on the countertop too long. Plus, with frozen fruit, you’ll always have smoothie supplies on hand. 

Estimated savings: $2

6. Give a little love to cheaper meats

Ever noticed that tougher cuts of meats are way less expensive than tender cuts? It doesn’t mean they’re less any less delicious, they just need more love. Save considerably by going for the sirloin or pork shoulder. Marinating cuts like these and slow-cooking or braising them is a no-fail way to get cheaper cuts as juicy as those that go for premium prices. Your butcher may even tenderize your meats for you—good enough reason to get on a first-name basis, stat!

Estimated savings: $4

7. Shop the bottom shelf

Grocery stores stock their most expensive items on the top shelf, where they are sure to get noticed (a sneaky trick bars have used forever). If you’re looking for off-brand items and weekly deals, get low and shop the lower shelves.

Estimated savings: $3

8. Get sundries at your dollar store

Toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, foil and sponges. All $1—or at least heavily discounted from your regular store. You’ll even find some food items like soy milk, vegan meatballs and frozen fruit.

Estimated savings: $11

RELATED: How a California Couple with a Baby Spent $433 on Food in One Week