Here are a few ways to guarantee a quicker and less expensive trip the next time you head to the grocery store.

I love walking into the grocery store. The sounds of the beeping cash registers, the hum of the coolers and the smell of fresh produce all drive me wild. While in my state of trance, I have a tendency to get distracted and while I am a list person, sometimes I just pile stuff in my cart thinking I’m going to eat it or use it or need it. All I end up with is a seriously heavy cart and a much lighter wallet.

Skip the Huge Cart

Our brain takes visual cues from our eyes and sometimes our brains don’t say when until we see something like a full cart, so if you take a huge cart, you’re more likely to fill it. Experts say you should take the smallest cart you can, or even try using a basket. I usually take the small double decker cart if I have to buy liquid like detergent or juice, but otherwise I get a basket. It keeps me from buying too much crap I don’t need. It’s almost like taking a smaller plate so you eat less and save calories, but at the store you’re saving money. You could also ditch the cart and basket entirely, but then you’ll just end up trying to balance stuff on your head.

Bring Cash

See if you buy less if you only bring $100 and leave the plastic and checks behind. You’re more likely to think about the purchases, use coupons and comparison shop if you have a strict budget and use cash. We are more emotionally connected to paper money. We don’t have a relationship with numbers on a statement until they get out of hand. Plus if you buy groceries with a credit card, you just end up paying interest on the groceries, in turn making them cost more. Cash is also king when it comes to curbing impulse purchases. How often have you been waiting in line staring at the gum and saying to yourself, “Darn. I do need Chap Stick” even if you have five at home already?

Shop Alone

If you can, try and grocery shop before you get the kids from day care, or even ask Mom or Dad to watch the kids after supper while you go to the store. Even if your children aren’t asking for their favorite goodies, trying to keep the kids from knocking things over, fighting or running off can distract you from your primary purpose which means you can miss things on your list or keep you from scoring a fantastic deal.

Beware of the Bulk

Buying things in bulk sometimes does make sense, but just because you can buy ten jars of jam for ten dollars doesn’t mean you should. Some stores often allow you to get the sale price even if you don’t buy all ten things at once. This can keep you from overbuying and overeating. Read the ad or the tag on the shelf carefully.