Despite spending a lot of my time writing about clever ways to save money, I'll admit that sometimes my grocery bill makes my eyes pop out.
The fact is that if you're not careful, it's easy to let your bill get out of control, especially when you get into a habit of buying things you don't need.
One way I managed to shrink my bill is by swapping kitchen staples.
I promise that every swap on this list will save you money, but won't ruin your favorite recipes.
1. Cold Hard Cash
Are you trying to eat heart healthy? Then you're probably buying salmon, and it's very easy to spend too much on this fish.
"Fresh" fish is not always the catch it claims to be. Usually it's frozen before it arrives at the grocery store.
Wild-caught frozen fish is often just as good, but at a much better price.
You can also swap salmon for cheaper healthy fish, or other foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Chop Prices In Half
Consumer reports found that two pounds of carrots will set you back just $1.29, while pre-cut carrot sticks can cost up to $7.16. This one should be a no-brainer.
While chopping your own carrots can feel like a chore, the savings are too good to pass up.
The same goes for lettuce, of course. It's quick and easy to chop up a head for your salad and the price is right.
3. Get The Breast Price
Instacart reports that Costco's 9-pound pack of Kirkland chicken breasts is unbeatable.
A pack the same size from your average grocery store can cost $7 more. And anyone can find a tasty use for extra chicken breast, so buying in bulk is smart.
Want to save even more?
Breasts can be swapped out for cheaper boneless, skinless chicken thighs in almost any recipe.
Buy thighs in bulk, and that's savings on top of savings.
4. Green Means Go
Bell peppers are a healthy and handy staple veggie, useful for everything from casseroles and salads to homemade pizza.
But most people overlook the price difference between the different colors of these peppers.
The red pepper (which is actually just a ripened green pepper) is 38 cents more expensive than the green on average, according to the USDA.
A small difference, maybe, but when you buy peppers as often as I do it all adds up.
While red peppers do taste sweeter, you can easily use greens in any recipe that calls for them and know that you're saving.
5. Give Yourself The Gift Of Savings
You're busy, so when you suddenly remember a birthday is coming up it's so tempting to just buy a cake from the bakery section.
Savings guru Andrea Woroch points out that a sheet cake from the grocery store costs twice as much as a box of cake mix.
That includes the eggs, sprinkles, and other ingredients to make your own birthday cake.
While a cake is not something you buy every week, baking your own takes the pinch out of a birthday party's cost.
6. High Prices Are Grounded
All together now everyone, how much has the price of ground beef gone up at your grocery store in the last few years?
I know everyone in my family has been meticulously tracking the outrageous price hikes.
So why put up with them any longer?
Buying ground turkey will save you a few dollars each week, and it can replace beef in almost any recipe.
Plus, you can stretch the turkey (or beef) even further by mixing lentils or black beans in to increase the volume.
7. Grate Savings
Remember those nasty reports about wood fiber in Parmesan cheese containers?
You can make sure your cheese is actually cheese and save money at the same time by shopping smart.
Instacart says a six ounce bag of shredded cheese costs about $6, while an eight ounce block is only $5.
You can find savings like these for blocks of both regular American cheese and fancy Parmesan.
If you already own a cheese grater, you have no excuse to keep spending more on shredded cheese.
8. Save Money Organically
Whether they're eco-conscious or just want to keep pesticides off their plate, more and more people are choosing to buy organic fruit and veggies.
What most of these shoppers don't realize is that not every fruit is exposed to the same amount of worrying pesticides.
In general, anything fruit you peel to eat - including oranges, bananas, and avocados - is not a major concern.
If you're dead set on buying organic apples, peaches, or other produce, see if your local farmer's market offers better prices.
9. Fresh Frozen
While we're on the subject of vegetables and saving money, you should re-think buying fresh.
While we all feel pretty healthy stocking our fridge with fresh veggies, frozen vegetables are cheaper, last longer, and are less wasteful.
On top of those savings, frozen veggies are perfect for so many fast and convenient meal ideas.
The same goes for fruit: you're almost always better off buying frozen berries and thawing them.
10. Know When And Where To Buy
Teri Gault, the grocery guru and author of Shop Smart Save More, writes that milk cartons cost up to 50 cents less, on average, at the drug store.
In fact there are all kinds of products worth swapping from your grocery list to the drug or dollar store list, and vice versa.
For instance: experts recommend always buying paper towels at Walmart, or another big box store.
11. Start Your Day With Savings
A fresh, warm bowl of oatmeal is a healthy and filling way to start the day.
But those single serving packets are a terrible deal - and filled to the brim with added sugar.
Quick cut oats or steel cut oats will give you much better bang for your buck, and they're healthier too.
Get creative with tasty recipes like these and you'll really appreciate your savings.
[H/T: Eat This, Not That, The Food Network]
Do you have any money saving tips for when you buy groceries? Let us know!