Eating well is important—here's how to maintain a budget beyond coupons and buying in bulk.

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Groceries are an essential expense. Everyone needs to be able to eat, but being able to save money on groceries can make a huge difference in your budget. The good news is that you don't need to sacrifice the quality of food that you purchase in order to save money; you can eat well on a budget if you know how to shop wisely. Aja Dang, a YouTube content creator and personal finance expert, has practical tips that you can employ to help save money on your next trip to the grocery store.

woman with mask on buying produce
Credit: Luis Alvarez / getty images

Write out a grocery list.

It's easy to go over budget when you go into the store without an idea of what you need and simply buy everything that looks appealing. Instead, Dang recommends making your grocery list ahead of time. "If it's time to shop, jot down everything you need before leaving for the store," she says. "You'll be more inclined to stick to your list, which will prevent you from overspending and allow you to stick to your budget." To create your grocery list, it's helpful to first plan your meals for the week and do an inventory of what needs to be stocked or re-stocked. Then you can be sure not to forget something important.

Buy seasonal produce.

Another tip is to purchase fresh produce that is in season. The produce will taste its best and you will be more likely to eat it, says Dang. "Farmers' markets are a great place to find all fresh produce in season. Not only will you be supporting your local community and lowering your environmental footprint, but you can meet the farmers and workers who are growing your food," she says. "Farmers' market tip: If you go an hour before the farmers market closes, you can haggle your way to a more affordable price. If you'd prefer to stay home during this time, Imperfect Foods will deliver food to your door at a discount since the produce and kitchen staples they sell are [labeled as] imperfect (cosmetically imperfect, surplus, discontinued, etc)."

Buy food that you'll actually eat.

While it's smart to look for deals while shopping, you don't want to buy things that you won't eat or that will ultimately go to waste. Simply put, that two for one deal is not as good if you or your family never touch the food. "For me, deals aside, the most important thing to remember is to only buy food items that you'll eat. It's easy to stock up on spices or canned goods when they're on sale (or when you feel it might be your only option) but realistically, if you wouldn't normally cook with dried tarragon or canned olives, save your money," says Dang. Think about the types of foods your family regularly enjoys, then stock your pantry accordingly. And for those with dietary restrictions, she recommends online markets like Thrive Market because they offer wholesale prices on items like gluten-free granola.

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