Stretching your grocery budget does not have to be a long, arduous endeavor that leaves you exhausted before you even leave to do the shopping. Simple steps to getting the most for your money can start with a little prep.

COMPUTER TIME: Most ads are readily available to look at on the store’s websites. Compare which store has the most items you need on sale. You can stick to just one or two stores to save time and gas from running around to a bunch of different stores. Most chains also have digital coupons you can add to your shopper card, no need to spend time clipping coupons.

PLANNING TIME: Plan meals for the next week or two by what is on sale and what you already have in your house. It is always good to start with an inventory of what you already have, either on a spreadsheet or monthly calendar where it is easy to hang up and see. Make sure to make a list of meals and the ingredients; then you can write down the items needed at the store. You can get really technical and start listing regular prices for the items and then you can gauge how good of a sale it is and if stocking up is beneficial.

BEFORE YOU GO: Nothing wrecks a grocery budget faster than going to the store hungry. Make sure to shop after you have eaten, or take a snack. Brush your teeth, whatever it takes to keep you from grabbing impulse items to quench a craving.

IN THE STORE: When you get into the store, stick to your list. Read the aisle signs and if you know there is nothing you need in that aisle, don’t go. I think we get it into our heads that we have to go up and down the aisles, the more you look at, the more items will end up in your cart.