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Does your grocery bill make it difficult to stay within your budget 8 Easy Steps for Building Better Money Habits 8 Easy Steps for Building Better Money Habits Building better money habits is hard, but these eight principles will help you stick to your new routines and meet your financial goals. Read More ? Do you find yourself spending more than seems reasonable on food?

It’s easy to do — but it’s also an easy problem to solve. These five tips and tricks will help keep your food bill down so you can spend your extra money on something useful (or fun).

1. Create a List and Stick to It

When you head to the grocery store, do you make a list Going Grocery Shopping? Top 5 Android Shopping List Apps Going Grocery Shopping? Top 5 Android Shopping List Apps Check out these awesome grocery shopping list apps to help you stay organized! Read More or just wing it? If you’re only running out for a few things, you probably don’t bother with a shopping list. But regardless if you’re buying a little or a lot, having a list and sticking to it can save you money.

Stores want you to impulse buy. They hope you notice the snacks in the bakery, catch sight of the sale signs, and grab some goodies in the checkout line. However, if you purchase those impulse items that aren’t on your list, you’ll spend more than expected.

Grocery iQ is a great way to make lists on your phone. You can create multiple lists and add items quickly by typing a few letters and selecting from the suggestions. You can also add items to your list by scanning a bar code or using the built-in microphone.

If you enable your location, you can check out nearby stores. Plus you’ll see and be able to clip coupons for the items on your list.

Download — Grocery iQ for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

2. Plan Shopping Around Flyers

Another great way to save money at the supermarket is to plan your trips around flyers for local stores. It’s always wise to review the deals for items you already plan to buy.

If you don’t get these circulars physically, there are other ways to do so. Flipp is a terrific app for checking out weekly circulars from your favorite stores. They currently have flyers for over 200 retailers, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and discount centers. You can browse by circular, coupon type, loyalty card, or category.

The app also includes a convenient shopping list and, with your location enabled, you’ll see local deals instantly. The website and mobile apps are extremely easy to use, making Flipp a great way to shop for sales.

Download — Flipp for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

3. Bring a Bag Lunch

Whether you head to work or school each morning, you likely plan on a lunch break. And eating out can be expensive, especially if you do it five days a week. Instead, consider bringing a bag lunch with you.

You may not love bologna sandwiches, leafy salads, or fruity yogurts. But there are many other options to try. And there are no better brown-bag recipes that the ones provided by Martha Stewart.

Her almost 50 recipes range from classic to modern. Try the tuna salad, tofu sandwich, Mediterranean chicken, or spinach and artichoke wrap. Each recipe provides the ingredients and directions, but also a cool option to see which items are on sale near your location.

4. Eat Up Your Leftovers

There’s nothing worse than cleaning out the refrigerator Cleaning The Fridge: 6 Recipe Websites Which Show You How To Cook With Leftovers Cleaning The Fridge: 6 Recipe Websites Which Show You How To Cook With Leftovers Surprisingly, the art of leftover cooking isn't new by any means. If you have ever been a college student, then this wasn't art…it was a lifestyle. From Shepherd's Pie to casseroles, many dishes can be... Read More and attempting to figure out what’s in that container. Yuck! How much food do you waste by throwing away uneaten leftovers? And how much money does that cost you?

One way to stop wasting money on food is to bring those leftovers in your brown-bag lunch. Another is to find recipes where you can create tasty new dishes out of those leftovers.

BigOven has a convenient tool for using up leftovers. You just add up to three ingredients that you’re trying to use, and it gives you a variety of delicious recipes. If you’re not sure what to do with turkey, eggs, and orange juice, how about Vietnamese Aromatic Egg Wraps?

Signing up for a basic account with BigOven is free and allows you to save favorites, recipes you want to try, and dishes you’ve made. There are also paid plans available which let you save unlimited recipes, add private notes, and view nutritional facts.

To access this option on the web, go to Ideas > Use Up Leftovers. On the mobile app, tap Search > All > Use Up Leftovers.

Download — BigOven for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

5. Make Snacks for Road Trips

Whether you’re preparing for a three-hour drive to a theme park or a 20-hour trip across the country, bringing your own snacks can save you a bundle.

The easiest thing to do on a road trip is to stop at a fast food place on the way. But by making your own snacks and packing them in the car, you can avoid those fast food temptations along the highway.

Allrecipes has a subcategory for road trip snacks on their website. You can check out yummy recipes for Cinnamon Snack Mix, Taco in a Bag, or Spicy Bagel Bites.

Whether you want simple finger foods or something that you can enjoy at a rest area on your drive, Allrecipes gives you plenty of delicious options. And they won’t break the bank.

To access the subcategory on the website, go to Home > Recipes > Everyday Cooking > On The Go Recipes.

What Are Your Secrets to Saving on Food?

You should never have to sacrifice good food to save a few bucks. Whether you use all of these tips and tools or just one, you can still enjoy the foods you love while staying within your budget.

How do you save the most money on food? Is there a certain app, website, grocery store, or method that works well for you? Share it with us in the comments below!

Image Credits: nd3000/Shutterstock

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  1. nshani
    March 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    1. Many stores (chains or not) will price-match the competition if you show them the flyer
    2. Loyalty programs: why not take advantage? Yes, you 'pay' with your buying habits becoming part of big data, but then you need to eat anyway, so why not turn the tables? Found in my case that many a time, the offers repeat themselves. I just disregards the other 'specials' that I don't ever buy
    3. Lists: be organized - finished an item? Immediately add it to the list, so even if you have a spare/extra, you are now immune to 'begging the neighbour for a cup of sugar'
    4. The recommendations are logical, but then every sensible shopper is already doing them

  2. Edwin Wilson
    March 6, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    I cannot see any unique advice in this article. The first suggestion about sticking to a list is ridiculous. It is very easy to forget something and a need to tack it on to a shopping list. Or sometimes you see an item that gives you an idea on how to supplement a bit of leftover so that is can become a meal- not tacking such an item on results in spending more for an entire new meal. Every other suggestion not eating broth with a fork.

  3. Lou
    February 28, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Great advise. I would add
    Never , ever buy groceries when you are hungry! Eating first will make sticking to the list a lot easier.
    When flyer shopping: vehicle costs and your time are both shopping expenses. Driving to four different stores to save about 8 dollars total may cost more than you saved.
    Be vigilant while you shop, as there are misleading price tags everywhere now. Retailers will show the price in large print, but have the price conditions or restrictions (eg: price applies for lots of 4 only" or 'first 2 only at this price) in very tiny print.
    Check product expiry dates. Retailers will often cut prices at or near the expiry date on foodstuffs. You may get a great deal, but only if you plan on using the product soon.
    Store or generic brands may be less expensive than name brands. Be sure to compare volumes before purchasing to ensure you are getting the same amount of product, and be aware the taste and/or quality of some generic/store brands may be substandard.
    Product placement matters. Cheaper priced goods are often put on the very bottom or very top shelf. Middle shelves are reserved for products with the best mark-up, or for producers/manufacturers/wholesalers who have paid for the spot. Either way, you may pay extra based on where the product sits on the shelf.
    A favorite ploy of manufacturers and producers is less product in the same packaging, at the same price. Instead of a price increase (never popular) they give you less, knowing most people won't check, especially for products bought on a regular basis. Always check the package, even if you have purchased the same product forever.

  4. Grant
    February 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Pay attention to prices over time. Until you have a grasp of this pay no attention to sale prices or specials.

    Pay attention to price per unit, this is really the only way to know how much you are paying.
    Stay away from pre-prepared food and the like,

    In a supermarket the best food is the fresh food then the staples and last is everything else.

    The "everything else" category is high in sugars, high in salt, high in fat and the least sustaining. Packeted cereals are often a disaster (sugar), most sauces, food bases etc can be easily made at home and are better made by you.

    Where possible and having done the arithmetic buy staples in bulk. Rice, pasta, sugar, salt, oil, butter, pepper corns, dried spices, flour, etc. These all have very long shelf life. If they are really on sale buy them even if you have enough.

    (Never buy the latest cleaning liquids, sprays etc. They don't work and are pollutants. Water is very effective, bicarb of soda is brilliant for a million purposes and the cheapest bleach/disinfectant is just as good as and just as effective as the most expensive..