6 shopping and budgeting tips to trim your grocery bill

Filling the fridge shouldn’t break the bank. You can enjoy fresh produce and afford to host Sunday dinner for the extended family. Make your grocery budget stretch farther with these shopping and budgeting tips.

1. Buy in-season
Just because you’re craving mangoes, doesn’t mean you can have them. If it’s the middle of January and the fruit isn’t in season, you’ll have to flock to other budget-friendly produce. Buying seasonal vegetables and fruits can trim a few dollars off of each pound of produce you purchase.

2. Read sale ads
Do you have a grocery shopping routine? If you mindlessly do the shopping every Monday evening, it’s time to plan your trips around the store sales and specials. Watch for weekend bargains and mid-week specials to save on your overall grocery bill. Your current convenient schedule may be costing you!

3. Stack the savings
Clipping a coupon or two from the Sunday newspaper isn’t good enough. The best budgeting tips out there remind savvy shoppers to stack manufacturer coupons and in-store specials for the biggest savings. For example, if your grocery store has cans of tamales on sale, look online and in the printed newspaper for coupons offered by the manufacturer to increase your savings.

4. Shop the carts
Look in the sale carts and back-of-store end caps for bargains. These are where grocery stores offer produce about to expire, dented canned foods, and clearance items at deep discounts. Planning dinner once a week around these discounted finds can save up to 50 percent on that meal alone.

5. Go to local markets
Sure the big box retailers offer great prices. But, have you been to your farmer’s market or independent stores lately? These businesses often partner with local growers to offer fresh, locally raised produce and pantry items. Since the products don’t have to be shipped across the country and handled by warehouse staff, they are usually cheaper. Shop this way for produce, baking mixes, honey, jams, baked goods, and homemade beauty products.

6. Change the list
Look over your grocery list and determine the most costly items. For example, instead of picking up a roast to make carne asada for a Sunday dinner, take a week off and make a vegetarian dish. Meals based on beans and rice are economical, filling, and packed with nutrition. It’s not uncommon to pay less than a dollar each for a pound of whole grain rice or pinto beans.