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If you want to dramatically reduce the amount of money that you spend in a month, start by following these ten smart tips that will change the way you approach buying and using food.

1) Make a grocery list, and stick to it:

If you want to spend less on food, make sure that you have a rigid plan in mind every time that you go shopping. Figure out what you need, write it down, and staunchly avoid buying anything that is not on your list. This tactic will help you to avoid picking up tempting but ultimately unnecessary foods, and will also dissuade you from picking up useless but cheap items simply because they are on sale.

2) Try products made by less famous companies:

Many of your favorite foods can be replaced by similar but much cheaper products that are manufactured by particular chain stores or by less popular brands. Good examples include soups, pastas, and jars of coffee. Although you may be wary of these replacements in case they do not taste as nice as the products you are used to, most will be almost indistinguishable (and if you particularly dislike one then you can always go back to the more popular brand next time).

3) Buy food in bulk:

If you opt to buy your favorite canned goods, cereals and drinks in large quantities, this can often be a lot cheaper than repeatedly buying small amounts of the same items. However, avoid buying in bulk when it comes to perishable goods, as you are likely to have to throw some of these products away before they are used, wasting more money in the long run.

4) Take the time to compare prices:

Most stores will print the ‘price per gram’ on their items or on the price tag beneath their shelves. Using this information, you can see whether any other store is offering the same product for a cheaper price per gram. Although it is tiresome to do this with every item of food that you buy, you could save quite a bit of money if you at least choose to do it with all of your most common and expensive food purchases.

5) Buy bread and meat in the afternoon or evening:

As the day goes on, many shops start to reduce the prices of fresh products that are approaching their ‘sell by’ date. There is nothing wrong with these foods, and they can be eaten on the same day or frozen to use in the coming weeks.

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6) Find and use coupons:

Your local newspapers and favorite magazines will often contain coupons that allow you to get food products for lower prices or as part of ‘buy one and get one free’ deals. In some cases, coupons will also allow you to try free samples of new items that are currently on promotion.

7) Cook more and go out less:

Regularly dining at restaurants will leave you spending much more money on food each month. Try to go out less often, and cook from scratch. Make an effort to focus on cheaper ingredients such as fresh vegetables that are in season, rice and bread, and look up exciting new recipes that you can try.

8) Always use leftovers:

When you accidentally make too much food for dinner, avoid throwing away the excess food and instead choose to store the leftovers in your fridge. This tactic will save you the money that you would have spent on lunch the following day.

9) Be on the lookout for online deals:

A wide range of sites offer printable vouchers and usable codes that can allow you to buy food at cheaper prices (sometimes in grocery stores, and other times in restaurants). Once you find the best sites, check them several times a week and set up email alerts if they are available.

10) Be vigilant about checking the dates on your food:

Finally, if you want to avoid losing money and wasting food, it is also important to keep a close eye on the contents of your fridge. Make sure that you use any ingredients that are approaching their ‘use by’ date.