It’s not all about couponing. These strategies are sure to put some food on the table and save some money in the bank.

Whether you’re feeding a family of five or just yourself, you probably find that groceries take a big bite out of your paycheck. You don’t need to buy your toilet paper in bulk or spend hours clipping coupons to save money on groceries each month.

18 tips you can use to save money on groceries:

  1. Sign up for rewards

    Many grocery stores now offer a rewards programs to encourage customer loyalty. By creating a free account, you’ll likely earn points that can be redeemed for grocery or gas discounts.

  2. Get the best price

    Pick the 10 or so items that you most frequently buy and check out a few stores in your area to compare prices. This will help you determine if you’re actually shopping the store with the lowest overall prices for your essential needs.

  3. Weigh it out

    Compare items not just by the sticker price but the price per ounce or pound to make sure you’re getting the best value. (This is usually located on the shelf price tags!)

  4. Know the lowest price

    Learn the price range of the items you buy most frequently so you’ll be able to recognize when they hit their lowest point and then you can stock up.

  5. Buy seasonal produce

    One simple way to keep your budget in check is by sticking with produce that’s in season. If you’re buying out of season items, you’ll pay a premium. Also, check out your local farmer’s market! These markets sometimes offer extremely competitive pricing on seasonal produce in your area. 

  6. Shop online

    Items that aren’t fresh staples, like cooking oils, peanut butter and toilet paper, might be cheaper online. Instead of shelling out the local premium, compare prices online and make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

  7. Become a member

    Club membership stores source and sell groceries and other staples in bulk, which helps to reduce unit prices. Buying in bulk isn’t for everyone, but it might be a worthwhile value for some families.

  8. Shop at discount grocery stores

    Stores like the Dollar Tree, Aldi and Save-a-Lot generally have limited supply, but their low prices typically make them worth the trip.

  9. Consider generic brands

    Often times, generic brands can provide more value than a name brand while still providing you with a high-quality product. Evaluate both options by reading the labels to compare the ingredients and product weight. You might be surprised to find that it’s the exact same product in a different package.

  10. Never throw food away

    Recycle the meals you make at home. For example, if you have grilled chicken one night, use those leftovers to make chicken fajitas the next night. There are a lot of creative ways to keep your leftovers from going to waste.

  11. Plan meals by the ads

    Look at the weekly grocery deals and then plan your meals around what’s on sale. This way, you can get meals for a discounted price.

  12. Limit your store trips

    The less you visit the store, the less you’ll spend. Try to visit the grocery store just once a week and work to make do with the items you already have at home.

  13. Substitute if needed

    Using substitutes for items you may need is a simple way to save. For example, if you find you’re out of buttermilk, don’t run to the store to buy it — create a workable substitute with milk and vinegar.

  14. Ask about price matching

    Grocery stores will often price match their competitors. Check with your store to learn about its price matching policy.

  15. Use your own grocery bags

    Some stores will offer a small discount if you bring your own bags.

  16. Keep foods visible

    Keep items that go bad more quickly where you can see them so you’ll be sure they won’t go to waste. Move the carton of strawberries from the back of the fridge to the front.

  17. Don’t overbuy

    It can be tempting to overbuy when you find a good deal at the store, but if you have to throw away food that spoils, then it’s not such a great deal. If you do have extra, consider freezing it.

  18. Get multiple meals from one large item

    Cook a whole chicken on Sunday for dinner, then have chicken noodle soup later in the week. Use one chicken to create multiple meals. 

Contact your Farm Bureau agent about other budgeting tips you can use.