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19 Tricks Frugal Shoppers Use to Save Big on Groceries

Cut your grocery bill with these strategies for making food last longer, avoiding supermarket gimmicks, making the most of coupons, and more.

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Walk through aisles you don’t use

The Reader's Digest Quintessential Guide to Saving Money offers dozens of secrets tricks on how to save money on groceries. First up: Know your store. Whether you actively think about it or not, every grocery store has an aisle or two that has no temptations for you (pet food, paper goods, baby supplies, cosmetics, and so forth). Make that aisle your passageway to the departments you need at the back of the store. Why tempt yourself by using the candy aisle?

Pan Roasted Chicken / Top ViewRadu Dumitrescu/Shutterstock

Buy chicken whole

Never buy chicken parts (breasts, wings) when you can buy the whole thing and make more meals from it, for pennies on the pound. Forget about fancy butchering: Using strong kitchen shears, cut the chicken up the breast bone, up the backbone, and then cut those halves in half again. Cut off wings and legs, and you have the kind of pieces that you’d pay big bucks for.

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Cut the cost of gourmet coffee

Even coffee made at home can be pricey, if you have expensive taste in beans and roast. Here's how to save money on groceries by mixing pleasure with savings: Combine one part of your favorite gourmet coffee with one part of a much less expensive store brand.

Fresh cottage cheese in a wooden bowl with a spoon with a glass of milk on a wooden old backgroundBogachyova Arina/Shutterstock

Turn cottage cheese upside down

It will last twice as long than when stored right side up. Check out these 14 grocery store items you're better off making at home.

Beautiful woman buying kale at a farmers

Shop farmers’ markets—late in the day

Yes, you can even learn how to save money on groceries even when you're not at a grocery store. Farmers' market sellers don’t want to bring unsold produce back home, so they often sell their inventory at reduced prices before the market closes. You may find sweet savings of up to 80 percent.

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Pass by bottled water

Instead, buy a reusable water bottle. Assuming a store-bought bottle costs $1, you’ll recoup your costs after only eight or nine uses of the reusable bottle.

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Read grocery ads before you shop

Grocery stores constantly have popular products on sale as a way to lure you into the store. And to get the word out, they advertise a lot—through mailings to your house, inserts in newspapers and local shopping guides, TV or radio commercials, and even online. They are worth studying each and every week. That’s because what is on sale changes on a weekly basis. Knowing that lettuce is on sale, you might map out menus that focus on that ingredient: a mixed salad one day, as a taco topping the next day, to wrap chicken for a low-carb dish the next.

Low angle portrait of modern senior couple choosing milk standing by dairy isle in supermarket while grocery shopping, copy spaceSeventyFour/Shutterstock

Shop the perimeter of the store

Where you shop in the store plays a huge role in how to save money on groceries. Food essentials (produce, meats, dairy, and bread) are usually located around the store’s perimeter. Middle aisles have more costly prepared and processed foods. The more you steer clear of the inner aisles, the healthier and cheaper your groceries will be. Here are 10 more secrets for healthier grocery shopping.

Pretty smiling girl in eyeglasses and striped shirt dreamily looking on bottle of milk in hands in modern supermarketgaretsworkshop/Shutterstock

Outsmart this “special” sale tactic

Here’s a well-kept secret: When a grocery store advertises a special—say, buy ten containers of yogurt for $5—you don’t have to buy the number of items they’re advertising. In this case, you could buy one container for 50 cents. Unless the store specifically states otherwise, you should buy as few as you want.

cose up of potato chips in bagkhuruzero/Shutterstock

Do the math

One bag of chips is $1.49 and a seemingly same-size bag is $1.79. The cheaper one is the better deal, right? Not necessarily, if the higher-priced bag has a couple more ounces of chips. When learning how to save money on groceries by comparing prices, always compare price per pound (or ounce or pint). It’s the only objective way to compare costs. These are the 50 unhealthiest things you can buy at the supermarket.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Quintessential Guide to Saving Money