My son and his fiancé recently moved back home with us, so my grocery budget now needs to stretch to feed six adults. Stretching your grocery budget is no simple task, especially when you’re trying to eat healthy food. I’m not willing to sacrifice the quality of what we eat to save money. Thankfully, there are ways to save at the grocery store and make healthy food choices.

1. Look for Markdowns

Most grocery stores have a section (or several) where they mark down food that is soon to expire. In our store, we can find these markdowns in the dairy, bakery, general grocery, and produce sections. These products are still good, and since we go through food fairly quickly with six adults, nothing goes bad. Alternately, you can freeze produce and baked goods that you don’t eat right away.

2. Understand the Clean 15

If I could afford it, I would buy only organic food. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible on my budget. Instead, I purchase the Clean 15 as non-organic and the Dirty Dozen as organic. This helps me avoid produce that has the most pesticides without  blowing my grocery budget.

3. Consider Frozen

I love fresh produce but it can be cheaper to buy frozen, especially when the produce you’re buying isn’t in season. While fresh strawberries may be on sale in June, chances are you’ll pay a premium in November. Compare prices and consider purchasing frozen fruit off season.

4. Stop Paying for Convenience

Convenience foods are almost always more expensive than their less processed alternatives. At the same time, processed foods typically include more sugar, salt, and other additives. Instead of pricey, sugary, instant oatmeal packages, for example, purchase whole oats and add honey, cinnamon, and fresh bananas. You’ll save money, you’ll be eating better, and your kids will love it!

5. Skip the Individual Bars

I love bars—from granola bars to fruit and nut bars. They are delicious, healthy snacks that I try to keep on hand. Unfortunately, they present a challenge if you have a limited grocery budget. You can make your own homemade granola bars (and homemade granola) for pennies compared to the ready-made options. Instead of paleo and gluten-free fruit and nut bars, buy bulk nuts and dried fruit and snack on that instead.

6. Plan Your Meals

There is no quicker way to blow your budget than by ordering takeout because you forgot to plan dinner. Each weekend, look through the sales circulars and your freezer and plan a week’s worth of meals. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need and check your meal plan each morning so you’ll remember to defrost something for dinner.

7. Eliminate Waste

Check your refrigerator often to see what is in danger of going bad. Incorporate leftover vegetables into a stir fry. Add extra berries or fruit to your oatmeal in the morning. Use up that last bit of ham in a quiche for lunch. It’s better to use it up than throw it away.

Once you start following these tips, you’ll find that it’s much easier to save money on your grocery bill than you thought.

I’d love to hear your healthy eating and grocery saving tips!