Grocery shopping is hard on your wallet, especially these days. Bottom Line Personal spoke with Arthur VanDam, CPA, president of the ­financial-planning website ­BudgetAnd, for his money-saving strategies…

Make a triple-play plan. You wouldn’t go to a business meeting without a game plan, nor should you take a random approach to the quest for your daily bread. My three-part strategy…

Know what you have. Create an inventory of the food items you have along with their expiration dates. I ­created an Excel spreadsheet that I can sort alphabetically or by category. Before you go shopping, compare the inventory to what is in your pantry, and add or delete things as needed. Smart: Organize foods on pantry shelves by date so that you use them before they go bad.

Plan the week’s meals. If your plan includes something out of the ordinary, add those ingredients to your list.

Make a shopping list of what you need to replenish plus any special items for the week. Then stick to the list. Consider using an app to keep track of your grocery lists—Flipp, Grocery Pal, OurGroceries.

Beyond the triple play. Here are a few other techniques that will help you save at the grocery store…

Embrace small savings. Lots of people dismiss a savings of 10 cents. True, you will never realize a $1,000 savings during one trip to the store, but you certainly could save $1,000 in a year.

Don’t buy food you don’t like to save just a few cents. But do try store brands and cheaper products to see if you might like them.

Never buy something just because it’s on sale.

Compare prices by ounce or by unit. You’d think that buying in bulk would always be cheaper, but that’s not so. If you’re not zooming in on the unit price or price per ounce, develop that habit.

Be wise about warehouse clubs. Compare the annual savings you expect from shopping at one of these to the cost of membership…and make sure you’re taking full advantage of the club. Bonus: Members can save lots of money on gas and car tires at some warehouses.

Ask about senior discounts at the customer service desk.

Prioritize purchases. When you go through checkout, put the must-haves on the belt first, then the nice-to-haves and finally the luxuries. Watch the ­subtotal tallying up. If you hit your limit, return some items to the shelves.

Make sure you’re getting the sale. Common mistakes: Throwing a sale item in your cart only to discover after you get home that you bought the wrong size and the sale did not apply…or failing to peel off the sticker coupon and hand it to the cashier.

Buy milk where it’s more expensive. Say you need a loaf of bread or a jug of milk during the week. You pop into the grocery store for that one item, only to emerge with $50 worth of other stuff. You probably chose the grocery over a convenience store or drugstore because its milk costs 80 cents less. Better: Next time, grab the milk from the more expensive store—you’ll lose 80 cents but save more than $40 by not buying a bunch of things you don’t need.

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