Buy this, not that: The cheaper quinoa substitute you haven't heard of

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Killer Quinoa

Quinoa has become, for many, a staple grain in recent years.

It's a certified superfood that's become a popular substitute for grains such as rice and wheat. And for vegetarians and those with other dietary restrictions, it's a great way to get your necessary protein servings for the day.

SEE ALSO: How to choose the most cost-effective grocery store

But its popularity and benefits don't come without a cost.

According to 'Eat This, Not That!', quinoa costs about $7.50 per pound at a local grocery store.

A 16-oz. (one pound) bag of Village Harvest premium whole grain quinoa costs $3.72 for per bag at Wal-Mart.

But a 2-lb. bag of Viva Labs whole grain quinoa will cost you $11.99 on Amazon (around $6 per pound).

Though this might not seem too pricey, it definitely adds up – one serving of quinoa is about 1/2 cup cooked, and if you're not buying in bulk, the prices per small bag will start to stack up if you need to buy multiple.

Luckily, there are cost-effective alternatives that offer equivalent nutritional value.

Millet is a lesser-known but equally delicious grain that's been gaining steam in recipes thanks to its lower bulk prices and versatility.

Both millet and quinoa are high in magnesium and fiber, and both are naturally gluten free.

The one caveat is that millet doesn't have as high of a concentration of protein as quinoa, but as long as you aren't using the grain as your primary source, it's a pretty seamless swap.

Check out these 5 tricks that grocery stores use to make you spend more:

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5 tricks grocery stores use to make you spend more
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5 tricks grocery stores use to make you spend more
1. Staples are placed in the back

Necessities such as milk and eggs are always packed in the rear, so consumers have to walk through the entirety of the store even if they just want to pick up a few things.

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2. Flowers and bakery items are in the front

These fragrant and visually appealing products are deliberately placed in the front of the store to activate shoppers' salivary glands and makes them hungry, which leads them to buy more during their trip. These are also high margin departments, so grocers place them in the front when a shopper's cart is empty and they're more likely to add to it.

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3. Fresh produce is near the front

These bright and aesthetic items excite the eye, prompting consumers to spend more.

Photo: Getty

4. Shelving is based on adult shopping habits and children's habits

Expensive and leading brands are at eye-level, and kid-friendly products like sugary cereals are typically at kids' eye-level.

Photo: Getty

5. Foods are paired together

Shoppers are much more likely to buy a complementing item if it's right next to it, such as chips and salsa, or bread and spreads.

Photo: Getty

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Though the price per pound may not always be significantly less than quinoa, the ability to buy in bulk will save you down the road.

Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Millet goes for $17.75 for a pack of four 28-oz. bags (about $2.54 a pound) at Wal-Mart.

On Amazon, you can get two 28-oz. bags of Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Millet for $13.97 (about $3.99 per pound).

The bottom line?

If your diet can afford to skimp out on the protein concentration, millet is a cost-effective swap for quinoa.

And if you're going to make the swap, you'll always save by buying in bulk, especially from a discount retailer like Wal-Mart.

Now, check out these 12 foolproof ways to slash your grocery bill in half:

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12 ways to slash your grocery bill

Buy in bulk
Even if you don't think you need a bulk amount of an item, you can always find a way to use it, especially if it's a dry good or item you can store for a long time. It'll save you down the road.

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Memorize rock bottom prices
You may have to jot down the prices you pay for certain items a few times before you can gauge the maximum price you should pay every time you shop for that item.Eventually, you'll commit it to memory.

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Research specific stores' policies
Certain grocery stores will price match or honor deals from other grocery stores, while some might have certain designated deals on different items on certain days of the week. Research before you shop.

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Buy a mix of name brand and generic brand products
For dry goods and condiments, stick to generic brand. For products like meat and dairy, stick to a brand you trust.

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Skip out on anything prepared, pre-packaged or pre-sliced
It's almost always more expensive than buying bulk ingredients and using them to prepare on your own. 

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Leave the kids at home (if possible)
"How did eight boxes of fruit snacks get into the cart?"

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Don't buy boneless chicken or meat
It will cost you the price of the meat plus the cost of preparation. Buy with bone-in and prep the meat yourself.

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Take advantage of "buy one, get one" deals
Especially if they're items like meat or bread, which can be frozen and stored for quite a while.

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Plan meals around when things go on sale
Instead of planning out your meals for the week and shopping for the appropriate ingredients, figure out when certain items go on sale, buy them and plan your meals around those ingredients.

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Look at the unit price
It's possible, for example, that buying two boxes of 10 granola bars is cheaper than buying one box of 20, based on the price per unit.

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Look up, then look down
Grocery stores tend to stock their most expensive items at eye-level. Look at the top and bottom rows for cheaper items.

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Skip out on personal care items
Your best bet for these kinds of items is drugstores.

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