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In times of inflation, like the present times, you can always expect that the cost of your groceries each week will be a little higher than you’ve been paying. Depending on circumstances, your grocery bill could be significantly higher, and leave you wondering if something expensive accidentally fell in your shopping cart.

Of course, the cost of groceries will rise all on their own, without the added momentum of inflation, so you’ll pretty much always have to keep an eye on your costs. When you first move into a new area, you may not know where to go for your grocery shopping, or you may have several choices. In that case, you can use Area Guides to direct you to the best place for your weekly grocery shopping. For some really useful tips on saving money when grocery shopping, we’ve provided the information below.

Take a shopping list with you

Anytime you go to the grocery store without a shopping list, it becomes much easier to purchase things you don’t really need. Even if you do take a list with you, it might be hard to stick to just the items on that list. When you have children with you, they can make it difficult to buy only things on your list. It’s also hard to avoid straying from your list items when you’re hungry. At your next grocery shopping session, make sure to take a list and try hard to stick to it, so you don’t end up spending a lot more money than you have budgeted. You might also find it useful to leave the kids at home if that’s possible, or to have a meal before shopping, so that you don’t go to the store hungry.

Do some comparison shopping

If you happen to live in an area that has several grocery stores, you should do some comparison shopping between them, to find out how prices are running on items you buy. This is a good way to learn about any sales that might be in effect at your local stores, and it’s also a good way to check their day-to-day pricing. You may even find it beneficial to shop at two different grocery stores, so as to take advantage of any sales or lower pricing that they’re both offering.

Purchase sale items

Most grocery stores are continuously running promotions to attract shoppers, and this could give you a great opportunity to earn savings on specific foods. By checking for items that might be on sale, you could save a ton of money, especially if those items are typically priced much higher. Most grocery stores will feature their sale items in a prominent location, so that it’s easy for shoppers to observe them and make purchases. This is not to say that you shouldn’t buy any items that aren’t on sale, but you can lower your shopping bill by looking for sale items and including them on your purchase list.

Buy generic brands

Most supermarkets feature their name-brand items and place them in optimum positions, where they can easily be seen. This is intended to tempt you to buy more high-cost items, so they’re generally placed right at eye level where they can be seen most easily. If you look above or below these featured items, you’ll probably find some generic brands that are much less expensive and are just as high quality. It’s very common for the store’s own brand to be situated above or below the name-brand items on the shelves, and these are items where you can make a real savings. If you’re trying to spend less money at the grocery store, take your time and check out the generic items which are generally placed above or below the featured ones on the shelves.

Use the Loyalty Program

Most grocery stores offer a loyalty program which gives you discounts on a great many items. This benefits the store as well as yourself, because when you know you’re going to save a significant amount of money on your grocery bill, it will persuade you to do most of your grocery shopping at that specific store. Most grocery stores provide such loyalty programs, so if you don’t see it advertised prominently somewhere, ask one of the store employees. You can usually find out exactly how much you saved, because the first total you’ll get will be the normal cost for all items rolled up. Then, once your loyalty discount is applied, you’ll see exactly how much less you’re paying.

Use coupons

Grocery store coupons have been around for decades and they’re still going strong today. There are some coupons where you might only save $0.25 or something in this neighborhood, but there are other coupons where you can save $1.00 or more on purchased items. If you really need these items, it’s a good idea to plan your shopping outing ahead of time. This gives you time to clip coupons from local advertisements in newspapers before you go. When you go to the grocery store armed with a number of coupons, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they add up. You will, in fact, be able to see how much you save, because when your shopping cart is rung up, the first total you see will be the natural total. Then after the coupons are applied, your total will be lowered, and you’ll see how much you saved by using the coupons.

—Article written by guest writer, Joe Moore