6 Tips to Save You Money at the Grocery Store

By Brittany Hawes on September 22, 2017

Learning how to keep a budget and save money are both essential skills to have, especially during your college years. For many students, the beginning of college marks the time in their lives when reliance on parents shifts over to reliance on their own income to buy food, gas, and the other staples they’ll need to get by during college. This shift will take a lot of getting used to, especially since that seemingly endless money well that parents might have supplied has now run dry.

It might come as a big change but you can do it. One of the easiest ways to start saving money during college is to spend wisely when you’re in the grocery store picking up some things for your pantry and fridge. I’ve learned that a little bit of money can go a long way in the grocery store if you know what to look for.

It’s okay to splurge and get those microwaveable TV dinners and oven-ready boneless wings every now and then, but you could easily save a few bucks and make tastier and even larger portions of those same foods by buying the actual ingredients and skipping out on the pre-prepared meals.

With that in mind, here are six tips to help you save money at the grocery store.


1. Make a list

This one goes without saying. If you have a list of everything you need when you go into the grocery store, you’re less likely to start shoving things into your cart that you really don’t need. You’ll also save time in the grocery store because you won’t have to go from aisle to aisle searching for whatever looks good; instead, you’ll know exactly which aisles to hit and be out of there in no time.

One thing I do when making my grocery list is to add prices (or estimate prices) for each item I plan on buying. That way you’ll have a rough estimate of how much money you plan on spending when you’re in the store. This can even serve to limit you from overspending and opting for cheaper brands of the same food if you’re nearing that price limit. The grocery list is your friend!

2. Eat beforehand

Never, ever enter the grocery store with an empty, growling stomach. Overspending and drooling over every single food item in the store will occur. Make sure you eat a light snack or something to hold you over until after you’ve finished with your shopping. If you shop while you’re hungry, you’re likely to pick up things just because they look good and you feel as though you’re starving. Eating before you enter is essential!

3. Plan meals ahead of time

I usually plan what I’m going to eat before I go to the grocery store. If you plan on making spaghetti or stir fry, write it down somewhere along with what day you plan on preparing and eating your meal. That way, you’ll know exactly what food you’ll need for which days and you won’t have to play the guessing game when you’re in the store as to which foods you might need back at your place.


4. Buy ingredients instead of prepared meals

As I stated in the beginning of this article, pre-cooked meals are wonderful and easy and tasty … but they can get a little pricey. Plus, if we’re going to be completely honest, they’re not exactly the healthiest meal a college student could be eating.

Save money and cut calories by making your own meals. You’ll know exactly what ingredients are going into your food and they’ll be fresh and even more delicious than a boxed meal.

5. Bust out the coupons

It’s not just your mom’s thing — you can use the coupons too! Many grocery stores offer paper and online sales ads with bundles of coupons that you can take in store and save a bunch of money.

Stores like Publix list their “Buy One, Get One Free” items in their ads while other stores have paper coupons that you can clip and bring in and save percentages at the register. There are people that say they’re embarrassed to use coupons — don’t be! Why be embarrassed to save a few bucks?

6. Don’t go overboard

Just because you’re in college and you finally have some say-so over what you’re going to cook and eat every day doesn’t mean you have to overdo it. Be conscious of what you’re eating and how much you’re spending on it. Freedom is awesome but having some money set aside will help you out in the long run.

Hi there! My name's Britt and I'm a senior majoring in English major at Florida State University. I have these crazy, big dreams of traveling the entire world and writing novels in my spare time. I love music, food, and the Japanese culture. I plan on teaching English in Japan upon graduation from Florida State. My first YA novel, Twisted, was published by Deep Sea Publishing Company in 2014. It won a Readers' Favorite Book Award that same year. Alongside schoolwork, I'm working hard on the second book in the Twisted series as well as a number of other novels.

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