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Amiyrah is a mother of three and the founder of “4 Hats and Frugal,” a blog that finds the fun in frugality.

7 Ways To Grocery Shop on a Budget

#1 Grab Your Needs Before Your Wants 
Grocery stores are very smart. Their layouts bring shoppers past sale items, "end caps" and treats they can't pass up. You can put an end to this game by mapping out your grocery trip before you even enter the store. If the dairy aisle is near the candy and chips aisle, go there last. Hit up the produce and protein aisles around the edges of the store first. Or order your groceries online. Check your grocer's website to see if they offer this in your neighborhood.

“Write lists that put items in order of the store’s layout.”

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“Write lists that put items in order of the store’s layout.”

#2 Eat Before You Go 
This is a tip that has been shared many times before, yet I always see a friend or two on social media channels proclaiming that their $500 in groceries was due to them being hungry while in the grocery store. Be sure to keep snacks in your reusable shopping bags. Before you walk into those automatic doors, eat something. Why? Because you’re irresponsible when you’re hungry. 

#3 Make a List and Check it Twice 
Writing out your grocery list is just about the easiest way to reduce the amount of money you spend. Here’s a trick: I write down everything I think we need from the store that week. Then, I check the list and make sure nothing is already stored in our fridge, freezer or pantry. I'll also write lists that put items in order of the store's layout. By placing our needs at the top of the list & going to those areas first, I often get to the bottom of the list and realize that the items there aren't really necessary.

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#4 Purchase Multi-Taskers 
Each family has a favorite grocery item brand: whether it’s a certain brand of ice cream, bottled water or even deodorant. When it comes to grocery items, it pays to pick the "multi-taskers." Items like Lawry’s Seasoned Salt are always on our list to pick up when we are running low. I can use them to enhance a ton of recipes, and they work well with all kinds of protein and vegetables. They are always reasonably priced, too. Each week, make a note of the multi-taskers that work for your family, and always make sure they are in stock in your home. 

#5 Shop In Season 
While most stores do a very good job of letting their customers know what grocery items are in-season, we still have to do a bit of the work ourselves. While oranges are wonderful to have in summer, they are actually a winter fruit. If we see oranges on sale during spring and summer, we may take that as a good deal. But, there is a good that chance they may not be fresh. Don’t purchase something on sale just because it’s cheaper, because it probably won’t taste good if it’s not in season.

Challenge yourself to set a specific grocery budget.

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Challenge yourself to set a specific grocery budget.

#6 Calculate Your Total 
I remember being so embarrassed to use a calculator in the grocery store. We were on a very strict budget, and I had no room to go over the amount of money we allotted for our groceries. But now I know it's the secret to success. Before you leave each aisle, add the prices of the items you grabbed. You can use the calculator on your smartphone if you want to be discreet. By the time you get to the next aisle, you should have a new total in your mind and on your calculator. By the time you reach the register, your total should be no surprise to you. 

#7 Cash is King 
Have you heard of those crazy people that go to the bank and take out the exact amount of money they need to spend at the grocery store? Yeah, that’s me. I learned very early on that if I use my debit card to pay for groceries, I don’t feel the real transaction that occurs. Challenge yourself to set a specific grocery budget, and take that amount out of the bank before you go shopping. Leave your debit card locked up in your car, or even on your kitchen table at home if you must. Use the cash. You’ll feel empowered once you do it.