Have you recently gone grocery shopping, picked up a few items, and found yourself staring in disbelief at the self-checkout screen?

Honestly, how expensive could bananas POSSIBLY be? It is literally b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Inflation is some nasty, nasty business. On average, groceries are up 12% from last year. That’s the largest 12-month increase since 1979.

With rising costs of just about everything, eating healthy and saving money can seem downright impossible. But we’re here to help. Our friends at Virtua Health , South Jersey’s largest health system, put together these quick tips to crush your next shopping excursion.

1. Meal Plan

Each week, write out a meal plan. From there, create a shopping list featuring every item you need to make those meals. If you stick to your list, you’ll avoid buying any unnecessary items – like Oreos (they’re our weakness).

2. Batch Cooking

Look for large-portion recipes you can cook ahead of time. This helps when you’re in a time crunch – but it’s also perfect for leftovers and work lunches. Basically preventing you from ordering take-out.

3. Think Simple

Some of the most delicious recipes are also the simplest. Search for meals that feature 3 to 4 ingredients. This way, you won’t go overboard buying a billion different things.

4. Full Tummy Shopping

Pro tip: never shop on an empty stomach. If you go grocery shopping when your tummy is rumbling, you’re more likely to cave into cravings. Again, Oreos, every single time. But only Double Stuf, obviously.

5. Be Generic

In life, be an original. When grocery shopping, embrace generic. Generic alternatives instead of brand-named eats could significantly impact your bottom dollar.

6. Food Hacks

Consider adopting these money-saving tricks:

• Buy bricks of cheese instead of shredded or sliced.
• Buy frozen fruits and veggies – they’re usually just as nutritious but might be a little higher in salt and sugar.
• Buy cheaper cuts of meat – like chuck steak, whole chicken, or ground meat.

7. Shop Local

For produce, visit your local farmers’ market. For starters, they’re way cheaper than local grocery stores. Plus, they’re stocked with the freshest, in-season fruits and veggies to take your meals to the next level.

Speaking of, you should definitely check out Virtua’s Eat Well Mobile Farmers Market. Each week, it travels throughout South Jersey, offering fresh, nutritious eats up to 50% below retail prices. Catch them in a neighborhood near you!