A man holding a bag of groceries looks at a receipt.

Groceries are likely already one of your largest monthly expenses. And, in February 2022, the U.S. saw the largest 12-month increase in grocery inflation and food prices since 1981, increasing that expense even more.

Economists predict high prices will remain through the summer of 2022, but you don’t have to wait to start paying less. You can’t stop buying food for yourself or your family, but you can reduce your spending with these grocery shopping tips.

1. Expect higher prices and budget accordingly

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that all food prices will increase between 3% and 4% in 2022. Look for other areas in your budget you can trim to offset higher prices at the grocery store. If you spend $100 a week at the store, you can expect to pay $103 to $104 for the same amount of food (depending on what you’re buying).

What can you cut from your overall budget to give yourself an extra $5 a week for groceries?

2. Start meal planning

If you don’t already plan your meals each week, now is the time to start. Figure out what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner all week. Then, make a list of the ingredients you need to purchase for those meals. Often, shoppers spend more at the store when they head inside without a plan or a list of items. Stay disciplined and only buy the items on your list. You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save!

3. Switch up what you eat

Meat and dairy products are some of the items being hit the hardest by grocery inflation. Level up your meal planning by switching out a meat-based meal for a plant-based one. Or, instead of making meat the main entrée, use it to add flavor to beans or mushroom- and pasta-based dishes.

4. Look for items with a longer shelf life

Produce is an essential part of a healthy diet — even when you’re cash-strapped, you shouldn’t necessarily cut it. Instead, shop for items that will last longer in your refrigerator. Brussels sprouts, carrots and apples are just a few examples of items that can last two weeks or longer when stored appropriately.

5. Have a strategy

Along with meal planning, shopping strategically is a great way to stretch your grocery budget. Swap out some fresh veggies for frozen ones. Consider buying non-organic items with peels, like bananas, to spend less at the store. When you get home, organize the food in your pantry so that items set to expire first are placed in front, with longer shelf life items in the back.

6. Take advantage of deals

Can you avoid paying full price on bulk items, paper goods or your favorite cereal? Using our cash back offers is a great way to keep costs down. When you combine coupons with store sales, you can easily extend your savings.

A final word of grocery shopping advice

Dealing with grocery inflation can be tough, and with no immediate end in sight, you might have to get smart about your grocery expenses to keep costs in check. Relieve some pressure by always having a cost-conscious mindset at the store and checking for a coupon or cash back offer on every item before you purchase it.