8 Tips for Grocery Shopping on a College Budget

By Brittany Loeffler on April 1, 2019

Going grocery shopping on a college budget can be difficult, especially if you are used to your parents doing the grocery shopping. When your meal plan doesn’t cover all of your meals, it’s time to head over to the grocery store and buy ingredients to cook for yourself. It’s easy to get carried away while food shopping and spend hundreds of dollars. Beware, this is most likely to happen when you shop on an empty stomach.

So, when you’re grocery shopping on a college budget, here are some ways to plan your grocery trip and save money while eating healthy.

grocery shopping on a college budget

via Pixabay

Make a Grocery List

When you make yourself a grocery list, you know exactly what you need for the upcoming week. Before going grocery shopping, look through your cabinets and fridge to see what you need to buy. When you stick to a grocery list, you are more likely to stay within your budget and only come home with food you know you need.

Review Your Store’s Weekly Ad

Grocery stores are always having specials and sales on certain food items, which is great for students grocery shopping on a college budget. While you’re making your shopping list, peruse your store’s weekly advertisement to see what items are on sale. You can base your meals off of what is for sale that week.

While sales are great and you may see a sweet deal, only buy items you know you will eat and won’t sit in your fridge until they go bad.

Create a Meal Plan

Take a few moments and think about what you may want to eat in the upcoming week. Create a meal plan of what you would like to eat. This will help you make your grocery list. It will also help you use what you already have. If you have some leftover taco shells from last week, salsa, and shredded cheese, just pick up some lettuce and ground meat to make yourself tacos one night. This will help you save money and plan to eat healthy meals.

Consider Your Portions

When grocery shopping on a college budget, it’s easy to buy items in bulk. You look at the unit price and see how much money you can save. However, it’s important to keep in mind how much you will actually eat. For example, many families will buy a gallon of milk that will last them the week. When you are shopping for just one person, you’re probably better off getting the half gallon or even the quart. While the unit price is better if you buy the gallon, most of it will go to waste because you weren’t able to finish it before the expiration date.

Choose Store Brands

Store brands are actually much cheaper than the name brand product and usually taste exactly the same. This is great news for students grocery shopping on a college budget. It means that you can still enjoy your favorite foods, but save some money! Next time you look for something on the shelf, opt for the store brand instead. The savings will really add up in the end.

Sign Up for Store Memberships

Many grocery stores have free memberships that provide you with discounts. All you have to do is give them your information and you will receive a card. This card unlocks tons of discounts throughout the store and sometimes will even earn you points towards other rewards. While a few cents here or there may seem like nothing, when you add it up and take it off of your bill at the end, you’ll definitely see a significant change in the total.

Look for Coupons

Now, I’m not saying you should become an extreme couponer, but coupons can if you are grocery shopping on a college budget. The important thing to remember is to only buy items that you know you will use. There may be a great coupon for an item you may or may not use, which makes you more inclined to buy the item because you found a coupon. Don’t buy it. Only use coupons for items you know you want and will use.

Stock Up on Good Deals

Every once in a while a grocery store will offer a deal that is too good to pass up. Don’t be afraid to stock up on good deals, especially if you can freeze or store the items for a while. If there is an incredible sale on chicken breasts, buy a bunch to stick in your freezer. You’ll be good for the next few weeks!

Grocery Shopping on a College Budget

It can be difficult grocery shopping on a college budget, especially if you have never shopped for food before. It’s important to make a list of items you need based on the store’s weekly ad and your meal plan. Look for coupons that match the items on your list and opt for store brands to save a few extra dollars. While these discounts seem small, they add up in the end. With a little preparation, you’ll be a pro at grocery shopping on a college budget.

By Brittany Loeffler

Uloop Writer
Brittany is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing at Temple University. After growing up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, she found her calling in the streets of the big city of Philadelphia. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, movies, baking, and photography.

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