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Grocery Shopping on a College Budget

October 08, 2018
grocery budgeting

We get it, adulting can be hard. Sticking to a budget while grocery shopping is something even the maturest of adults can struggle with. Contrary to popular belief, Ramen Days for Life is not a campaign you have to get behind.

Here are 10 tips to keep your spending down while making your way down those dreaded aisles.

1. Make a list

You're bound to get easily distracted when you're walking aimlessly through a grocery store. Before you know it, you can be piling up your cart with things you really don't need. Cha-Ching! Make a list, and stick to it!

2. Meal plan

It's hard to make an educated list without planning out your meals. Figure out what you need to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next one to two weeks. Try and be realistic, though. If you aren't someone who usually likes to whip up hard-to-create meals with multiple ingredients, you might end up wasting money at drive-thrus when you're too lazy to follow through with your cooking. Plan your meals, but plan them your way.

3. Never shop on an empty stomach

This should go without saying, but never shop while you're hungry. This is a dangerous path to go down! Sending a ravenous college student off to grocery shop will only end in excessive junk food collection, sad bank account balances and tears.

4. Explore the store brand versions

Honestly, they probably taste the same. You don't know it if you don't try it, though.

5. Buy some things in bulk

Spices, nuts, flour, rice, pasta...some things are just cheaper to buy in bulk. As long as it isn't something that is destined to expire before you eat it, buying in bulk can save you tons of cash.

6. Go with your roommate

Misery loves company, right? Take your roommate with you and see if there are some items you want to split the cost on. Pro Tip: There are often great deals on purchasing deli meat/cheese in bulk. Go halfsies with your roomie! You can also buy raw meat/fish in bulk and freeze it for later.

7. Always use coupons

Get in the habit of utilizing coupons. Coupons obviously save you money, as long as you are only using them for things you regularly buy. Don't purchase something you wouldn't otherwise take a second look at, just because you have a coupon. Do clip coupons for the items you are constantly buying.

8. Make every meal two meals

If you're really serious about saving money, heed this advice. Whatever you make for dinner can be eaten again for lunch the next day, if you plan carefully. When every meals lasts two meals, the savings' possibilities are endless.

9. Shop seasonal

In-season produce tastes better, and is much cheaper. Learn to prepare your meals seasonally, and take advantage of those savings.

10. Start drinking more water

People spend tons of money on soda, juice, energy drinks and coffee. If you want to see immediate results in your bank, quit buying these beverages and go on a 100 percent water kick. It's good for your body, great for your skin, and oftentimes, it's free!