There are certain expenses that you can’t shrink, even if they feel like they are putting a dent into your bank account. Unless you get another roommate, you can’t make your monthly rent smaller and unless you intend to go without electricity, you must continue paying your utility bills. But groceries are necessities that you can cut costs for when you follow the right tips and tricks. If you’re working with a tight budget, here is how you can stop spending so much on your groceries.

You may not realize it when you’re standing in line with your grocery basket, but you are probably going to throw most of those items in the trash. You are not the only shopper who is going to take a portion of their shopping list and toss it in the garbage — research shows that Americans lose $165 billion on wasted food every single year and that approximately 40 percent of food goes uneaten.

Learn About Expiration Dates

One of the unnecessary reasons why customers chuck their food into the trash can is that they follow expiration dates too closely. A lot of the expiration dates are simply suggestions determined by the company — they are not countdowns that accurately predict the second something becomes inedible.

If you’re concerned about whether you should eat an ingredient or throw it out, inspect it first. If it looks and smells normal, feel free to pull it out of the fridge and serve it up for dinner without any fear. Shoppers that want to cut down their grocery costs every month will have an easier time when they allow their products to have some longevity.

 Use Cash At The Register

People should leave their credit cards at home when they’re planning to head to the grocery store later. One of the most effective ways to stop blowing your budget on food is to pay for your items with cash instead of swiping a card — people who use physical bills spend 12 to 18 percent less than ones who use credit. Plastic feels less real to you, until you take a look at your bank statement at the end of the month.

 Meal Plan Before You Shop

Spending time thinking out your household’s grocery list and all of the recipes you’re going to make for the week is a great money-saving habit. This means that you won’t be picking up items on a whim and letting them rot in your fridge when you can’t think of what to do with them. Other than cutting down impulse buying, meal planning on a regular basis also encourages you to be healthier — you will be more likely to skip out on fast food when you’re hungry and you will use more nutrition-packed produce before it goes bad.

 Make A Responsible Budget

Most people who want to manage their finances will make a budget to keep track of their expenses. Instead of lumping groceries with general shopping money, you should separate it into its own category. Give yourself a designated amount to give yourself specific boundaries to follow as you pile things into your cart.

Knowing just how much is available for groceries will stop you from spending without thinking. If you’re not careful, you can end up at the register and not have enough money to buy everything the cashier ran through the scanner. Or worse, you can whittle down your monthly budget and leave yourself vulnerable to unexpected costs. This can be something like an overdue bill that needs to be paid off or a leak in your roof that needs to be professionally patched.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have no more money left in the bank and you need to make an urgent payment, you can go to a company like MoneyKey for assistance. Their website can help you easily apply for a loan and get the money that you need to tackle those unexpected costs. The online application takes only minutes to fill out and the loan can be approved as quick as one business day.

In comparison, it will take much longer to get positive results when people try to borrow through traditional financial institutions. People who want to learn more about what their loan options and what their long-term repayment plans look like should visit the official website or download the mobile app on their smartphone.

 Statistics show that people spend too much money on groceries that they don’t even eat. Changing the way that you look at expiration dates, how you pay and how you plan out your shopping experience will make a big difference in a short period of time. Following these tips will immediately help you cut down on food costs and build up your bank accounts.