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How to save on your grocery bill

Posted August 10

Everyone wants to save on groceries, but it's not always obvious how to eat cheaply.

Here are some tips for every type of shopper -- and eater.

The number cruncher

If you want to get your costs down as much as possible, consider clipping coupons or using a rebate app to make sure you don't miss out on deals.

Rebate apps work like high-tech coupons: The app will show you rebates available on certain items. After you buy those items at the grocery store, you can snap a picture of your receipt and your refunds will become available. You can transfer them into a PayPal account.

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You can also keep costs down by comparison shopping -- shopping at different stores for the best price on each item on your list.

"I typically will look at the [store's] weekly circular online, and depending on what is on sale, that'll determine what we're eating that week and whether or not we'll buy in bulk," says Anne Marie Ashworth, a certified financial planner with Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, South Carolina.

The healthy eater

It may feel like a challenge, but there are ways to keep your grocery budget in check while still buying healthy foods. For organic produce, check out low-cost grocery stores like Aldi.

To spend less on fruits and vegetables in general, shop according to what's in season. You can buy seasonal produce in bulk and freeze it for soups or smoothies at a later date. Avoid buying fresh, pre-chopped vegetables, which are often more expensive.

The online shopper

Amazon, Instacart and many local grocery stores offer online food shopping.

Roger Ma, a certified financial planner based in New York, says he uses the online grocery service FreshDirect almost exclusively.

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To save money, Ma plans meals around what's on sale and buys discounted non-perishable items in bulk. He also uses FreshDirect's DeliveryPass, a flat fee for unlimited deliveries, to keep delivery costs down.

Amazon Prime members are also eligible for free shipping on some orders.

The planning averse

Planning ahead is a good way to stick to a budget, but it can be tricky.

Jeana Salman, an LPL Financial Planner with Delta Community Retirement & Investment Services, recommends a meal-planning service called The Fresh 20 to help keep you on track. You can subscribe to different plans: a year-long subscription costs about $74 for access to grocery lists, meal-prep guides and recipes, and a cookbook.

The provider

If you spend a few hundred dollars on groceries each time you shop, you'd likely benefit from a credit card that gives extra cash back for groceries.

The American Express Blue Cash preferred card offers users 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in yearly purchases at U.S. supermarkets. According to American Express, customers who spend $400 at eligible stores per month can earn more than $300 back each year.

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