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Trader Joe'S
Trader Joe'S
Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

My Zen Approach to Grocery Shopping in College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

As someone who loves to cook, the part of college that I was most excited about was getting to go grocery shopping for myself. It wasn’t until I started my freshman year that I found out how overwhelming it can be. From choosing between countless stores to finding the best deals to stay within budget, this can be a daunting task. Here are some tips that I’ve found have made my grocery shopping experience more stress-free.

Mapping it OUt

Choosing a grocery store to shop at likely depends on one crucial aspect: transportation. During my freshman year, I didn’t have a car on campus, which put me in quite a bind when it came to getting weekly groceries. I relied on my roommates and friends to drive me to the stores farther from campus, such as Trader Joe’s, Publix, and Whole Foods. I would count down the days when my parents would visit for a weekend because they could take me to Costco to stock up on everything I needed.

However, those who don’t have a mode of transportation available to them through friends or family can always take the Florida State University (FSU) bus system. The Seminole Express provides off-campus routes (free of charge) that can take you to the Target, Publix, and Aldi over by Heritage Grove, or even all the way up Thomasville Road to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

Another option is to walk to the closest grocery store near FSU’s campus: Publix Greenwise. Located in College Town on Gaines Street, Greenwise offers a variety of healthier options as well as the staples, and even a hot food bar and made-to-order bowls, pizzas, and pub subs. While it is on the more expensive side, this is a great option for those who don’t want to travel far for high-quality groceries.

finding more bang for your buck

As a college student on a budget, limiting my spending on food has been difficult. I was used to grocery shopping with my mom to feed our family of four, so it was an adjustment for me to buy less food. In my experience, most groceries have a plethora of buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deals and digital coupons to help you save money. With a little research, you can find deals at almost any grocery store, and most of them have rewards clubs and point systems. While this is in no way financial advice, I know what it’s like to feel like you’re spending all your money on food. I remind myself that no matter what, it’s probably still cheaper than ordering Uber Eats or dining out, plus I get to experiment with new foods and recipes!

Another way I try to cut down on spending is by limiting grocery runs to once a week. I like to set aside time every Friday for my grocery trips since I don’t have class that day (I prefer not to shop on Sundays, which are crazy busy). Over time, you will learn how much food you actually need and can adjust your spending habits accordingly.

Making a list

Have you ever bought something from the grocery store that ends up in your fridge or pantry untouched for weeks on end? This usually happened to me when I didn’t plan out recipes to make. It’s one thing to buy groceries and a whole other thing to create meals out of the ingredients. I find it helpful to research recipes on Pinterest and TikTok to find out exactly what ingredients I need before shopping. Making a grocery list is one of my most important tips because it keeps me organized and focused while roaming the aisles. While I love to pick up new foods that aren’t on my list (I’m especially intrigued by all of Trader Joe’s unique snacks and fall-inspired items!), I keep in mind that I should stick to a balanced foundation of protein, fruits, vegetables, and grains, and then add in fun snacks that catch my eye. This also helps me to keep the cost down since I’m not buying unnecessary items.

Grocery shopping might be new to you as a college student, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore. For me, it’s a weekly reset that I look forward to that allows me to plan out the next few days and experiment with recipes. With trial and error, you will find what works for you. An FSU dining plan can always be supplemented if needed. I hope these tips can help you on your future grocery runs. Happy shopping!

Hey! I'm Sofi, a sophomore at Florida State University and it's my first year writing for Her Campus. Even though I'm a Nursing major, I have a passion for creative writing and journalism!