(CNN) – It’s a new year, but it looks like prices at the grocery store will likely keep going up.
According to the USDA’s Food Price Outlook, consumers can expect food to cost between 3.5% and 4.5% more this year.
Experts say a bit of planning can let you keep more cash in your pocket while still enjoying your favorite items on the menu.
Financial counselor Kumiko Love said she recommends five steps to reduce spending.
Tip number one: always start with a list.
Love said it’s a good idea to take inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer before going to the grocery store.
“Our food spending is the silent killer of our budget,” she said. “I pick out recipes based on what I already have at home and I create that list of what I still need to get”
With a list, she said you’ll buy only what you need instead of what you may be tempted to.
Her second tip is to shop from home. It’s easy to avoid temptations at the grocery store altogether and shop online for grocery pickup or delivery instead.
It’s also easier to delete items from your virtual cart if you go over budget.
“It also allows you to compare pricing very easily because it puts all similar food categories together,” Love said.
The third tip is to look at the price per unit, not just for a single item. Sometimes it can be cheaper to buy items as a whole instead of buying pre-cut or pre-made products.
Tip number four is to use a loyalty app. By joining grocery store loyalty programs, following them on social media and downloading their apps, you can find coupons and other deals.
Tip number five is to buy generic over brand name products.
“Store brands or generic brands are a lot of the times made in the same facility as the brand names that we gravitate towards,” Love said.
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