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Food is a basic necessity, making groceries one of those things you just have to spend money on. Fortunately, your grocery bill doesn’t have to make you cringe. With a solid plan, smart choices, and these tips for how to cut down your grocery bill, you can save money, eat well, and put your time and energy into the more exciting parts of life.

Make a Plan

Committing to a budget is the best way to save money, but that’s not the only way you can plan out your grocery trips. If you want to avoid impulse purchases, never go into the store without a physical list of what you need. Plan your meals for the week, and pay attention to sales and coupons when you do. Remember to keep leftovers in mind when meal planning. For example, if you’re going to have leftover vegetables after dinner on Monday, buy the ingredients you need to make them into soup on Tuesday.

Grow from Home

Fresh produce can get pricey. If you have the space and want to make the commitment, you can grow or raise many food items yourself. Potted herbs are an easy way to save a few dollars every week at the grocery store, and all you need is a windowsill to successfully grow them. If you have backyard space, a fruit or vegetable garden can provide you with fresh, nutritious ingredients all summer long. Raising chickens is another investment that can pay off in the long run with a constant supply of fresh eggs, you just have to have the right equipment. While chickens or a large garden come with an initial investment, they can provide you with healthy ingredients without having to pay the price of the organic tag at the grocery store. Plus, selling the excess vegetables or eggs can earn you some extra cash on the side.

Shop Generic

It’s easy to grab the first brand you recognize and be on your way, but it can also get expensive. If you want to know how to cut your grocery bill, shop for generic brands. Most of the time the only difference between brand-name and generic products is the packaging and the price. Take an extra moment to compare ingredients, and try the store-brand version if it’ll save you money.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.