Why Didn't I Learn This in School: How to Buy Groceries like an Adult

As tempting as it can be, dining out all the time isn't great for your waistline -- or your wallet.

In terms of your paycheck, food is typically the third largest expense after housing and transportation. The recommended amount to allocate is approximately 10 to 15 percent of your monthly budget -- but this can quickly go down the drain on a few big meals out.

SEE MORE: 4 ways to save $1000 fast

So what's the best way to eat well and save money at the same time?

Grocery shopping, of course!

We have the ultimate cheat sheet for your next trip to Kroger or Whole Foods that's guaranteed to save you tons.

Eating produce in season can save you up to 50 percent. Check out sites like this for a full seasonal produce guide, or go straight to the source and hit the farmer's market.

Buying things in bulk is a great strategy -- as long as you stick to items with a longer shelf life and don't go overboard! Beans, spices and grains can be up to 80 percent cheaper from bulk bins.

Check out more items to buy in bulk below:

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17 things you should always buy in bulk
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17 things you should always buy in bulk

Cereal

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School supplies

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Vitamins

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Laundry detergent

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Shampoo

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Dried fruit

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Alcohol

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Office supplies

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Light bulbs

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White rice

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Aluminum foil

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Batteries

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Whole spices and seasoning

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Pet food

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Bottled beverages

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Paper plates and utensils

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Gum

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Now for the cardinal rule with meat: The more work the butcher puts in, the more that's coming out of your pocket. While the packaged boneless and skinless chicken may be calling your name, these pieces of protein can cost twice as much as a whole chicken. Plus, you'll have leftovers all week, and you can use different parts of the chicken (like the bones and joints) in stocks and other dishes.

When it comes to beef, the leaner the cut of meat, the cheaper it typically is.

Plus, consider buying produce and meats from the freezer aisle. This can slash your costs, but frozen items will still pack in the nutrients.

EXPLORE MORE: 3 reasons why chain restaurants are struggling

A little-known secret about seafood is that unless you live near a major fishery, most of the "fresh" seafood you're buying has been frozen at some point. You may want to consider heading to the freezer aisle for your fish or shrimp craving, too -- and save up to 40 percent.

One of the biggest grocery store money traps is the prepackaged section. Prepackaged salads, pre-cut fruits and veggies and pre-shredded cheese can be twice as expensive as their whole counterparts.

If you grocery shop the right way, you'll save a little extra cash -- and a little extra room in those pants -- so you can still afford to eat out when you want!

Click through for 5 classic ways grocery stores trick you to spend more money:

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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.

Photo: Reuters

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.

Photo: Getty

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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