The secrets to grocery shopping on a college budget

(Elizabeth Levengood/Staff Illustrator)


Special to The Leader


Moving off campus means one thing: it is no longer an option to walk downstairs or across the street in pajamas, wait in a short line and have a full meal prepared for us.

Living in houses or apartments in town comes with a major responsibility: cooking. Before we do that, however, there is one important step that must be done — grocery shopping.

If done correctly, grocery shopping can be fun and make us feel good about ourselves when we are done. The only problem is that most college students are on a budget in terms of money and time. There are many techniques that

a student can follow

to make their college grocery shopping experience better.

Coupons are a huge must when grocery shopping.

No matter where you live, two things are probably true: you have internet access and you get the mail. Check your mail box.

There should be a mailer that comes with coupons for anything from restaurants to automotive services. Grocery store coupons should also be delivered. These coupons can really save you a couple dollars, and a couple dollars in college goes a long way.

“My house goes online to the websites of the grocery stores here, Tops and Walmart, and they have a coupon section where you can print them out,” said junior medical technology major Lauren Woolston. “We take the time and print out the important ones of things we are going to be using each week.”

Another tactic to try and save money is making a list of everything you need to buy before you go. Try your best to stick to it. You might think it’s easier to get in your car, go to the grocery store and pick up whatever looks good when you get there, but that is an easy way to run up your grocery bill very quickly.

“The first time I went grocery shopping on my own, I tried the no-list approach. I put things into my cart I thought looked good and useful to make dinners and stuff,” said senior public relations major Stephanie Vasta. “I ended up raking up a $60 bill — $60 I definitely didn’t have to spend. From then on making a list before has saved me so much.”

Another tip is to buy what you need first (fruits, veggies, meats, etc. and, if you have money left over, buy what you want next (snacks, desserts, etc.).

Reading the weekly grocery ads for your grocery store can also be a huge help. Every grocery store has a weekly circular that contains deals for that week. Google your grocery store and on its website you can find its ad for the week. Use this to plan your meals for the week. If there is a specific meat on sale, buy that meat and cook enough for the whole week. It will end up being a huge budget saver.

For pantry items that you like, when they go on sale, make sure to stock up. Those items take awhile to go bad, so it helps if you can buy them in bulk when they are on sale. You can also buy and freeze things. This keeps things good for longer.

Remembering to eat regularly in college is hard enough as it is and having to actually prepare the meals makes it that much more difficult. Budgeting time and money is key to staying healthy and functioning as an adult so try to keep these tips in mind as the year progresses.

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