UNITED STATES—Have you noticed lately that your trips to the grocery store/supermarket have doubled in recent months or in the past year? Trust me you’re not the only one. The cost of groceries right now is just sickening and it feels like there is no end in sight. Have prices gone done some in recent months? Yes, but they are still significantly higher now than what they were 2 years ago. Hell, the price for a carton of eggs was ranging around $5 to $8. Eggs were so high I went months without purchasing them. Sorry, there is no way in hell that I was paying $6 to $7 for 12 eggs. We just weren’t having eggs in the household.

The same has transpired with the price of meat whether it be chicken, beef, pork or seafood. If you’re looking for those high-end proteins it is indeed going to cost more, but that doesn’t mean you eliminate the less quality version of chicken, beef, pork or seafood. Sometimes the least expensive cuts are tastier if I am throwing out my personal preference.

So what do you do when it comes to shaving off a few bucks on our weekly, bi-weekly or monthly trips to the grocer? Make a list; I cannot push this notion enough. Why? When you go into the retailer with no idea as to what you want to buy, but you know you have to purchase food, you tend to buy everything in sight. In addition, you are absolutely going to overspend as a result.

Look at your fridge before heading to the supermarket to see what you have. That will tell you what you don’t need to purchase. I specifically recommend taking an extra look at your produce drawer and your dairy products. You do not want to be purchasing more fruits and veggies than you have to. Why? Out of all the things you can purchase they don’t have the longest shelf life. That means a lot of the time you find yourself tossing things in the trash because it has molded, expired or there is a stench.

The thing I have recently learned about produce, in particular fruit because I see they expire a lot sooner than many veggies, is that you can freeze it. I love a banana, but if you buy a bunch, before you get to those final 2-3 bananas they are over-ripened or ready to be tossed. Place in a freezer bag, ensure there is no air and toss those bananas in the freezer for smoothies or other dishes at a later date. Same applies to various berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), even mangos and apples freeze well.

Fruits and veggies are bit costly this year and they rise in price during the summer months as your season of stone fruits (peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines), summer staples (watermelon, pineapple, honeydew and cantaloupe) become more popular so the cost rise as a result people. If you see certain items you purchase on a regular basis on sale, purchase them, but don’t overdo it. Consider what you can make with those dishes and utilize your shopping trip to coincide with what you plan to cook for the week people.

That helps you utilize produce a lot quicker. When it comes to cabinet/pantry staples see what is on sale and purchase as a result. Just because something is $5 for 5 or $10 for 10 doesn’t mean you have to purchase 5 of 10 items. Only buy what you need. In addition, you can go with off brand items compared to name brand items. Why? They are exactly the same it is just the name that you are paying for people. Yeah, there may be some situations where the name brand is better, and if you just have to go for it that is completely up to you, but be aware of the difference in the price that you are going to fork over people.

When it comes to meat, look for what is on sale and craft your grocery trip and dishes for the week. Don’t be afraid to look at the clearance or discount section of the market for meats, produce and pantry items that might be nearing expiration. What does that mean? You could purchase dinner for the night at a decent rate and not pay full price for a package of Ground Beef or Chicken Breasts that you are not planning to use anytime soon. You can reasonably save almost 50 percent from the regular price on the discounted items and if you’re using that same day or the following day guess what: you don’t have to worry about anything expiring.

The biggest tip I have to advocate is checking your receipt. I cannot tell you how much money consumers throw away by being overcharged by retailers ESPECIALLY at the supermarket and they know that. That means make sure the items that you purchased on sale actually ring up at the sale price. If not call out the retailer and ensure you are refunded the difference, don’t let them get away with overcharging you because trust they will do it if you do not catch it. Every single penny counts nowadays so save as much as you can.

Written By Zoe Mitchell