How to Grocery Shop the Smart Way

Not spending money at college is hard. Especially when there’s just so much going on and outings with friends are a part of every weekend. So it makes sense that grocery shopping can be a stressful and disorganized mess. It doesn’t have to be this way! Ahead are some tips and tricks that have come in handy for me when I go grocery shopping.  

  1. Investigate memberships!

One of the first things you should do in the beginning weeks of college is look for grocery stores in the area. Some universities even offer free transportation to certain stores, so look into that as well! Georgetown University offers rides to both Safeway and Trader Joe’s, so I plan out my shopping trips according to the shuttle schedules. After pinpointing the potential store(s), go online to see if they offer free memberships. Make sure you’re not signing up for a credit card though! Stores like CVS and Safeway offer membership perks that make that extra step worth it to save money in the long run.

  1. Download the app!

Some stores have their own app you can download to your smartphone. It’s always a good option to look at since it offers a comprehensive list of everything you can currently find on sale or in special deals in that store.

  1. Look at the coupons and sales!

Walking into a store, there’s usually a stand nearby that has coupon flyers. Grab one. Ignore the fact that you may look like a granny because those flyers usually have pretty amazing deals. The last time I went to Safeway, I got three fruit bowls for $10 and two big boxes of Cheerios for the price of one. I also honestly prefer having a physical copy of the sales since it’s much easier to look at than pulling up the app on your phone.

  1. Make a list of what you need!

Being organized is a crucial skill to have in life that will take you beyond your college classes. Making a list ensures you don’t forget anything important while also making sure you don’t buy unnecessary things. It doesn’t matter where you write it- on your Notes app, in a notebook, the back of a receipt- as long as you’ve got something to go off of. If you can’t restrain yourself from taking advantage of what’s on sale, then feel free to diverge from the list. But make sure you’ll actually eat or use what you buy!

  1. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry!

I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. If you go grocery shopping when you haven’t eaten anything in awhile, you’re a lot more likely to buy snacks you don’t actually need. Instead, eat a small snack (or even a meal, whichever works best) before going to the store to ensure you’re not reaching for a box of oatmeal creme pies to add to the cart.

  1. Compromise!

My roommate likes fig jam. I’m more of a blueberry jam type of girl. So we decided on strawberry jam since we both like it as well. This might be because we’re also cousins, but if you and your roommate split the grocery bill and share your food, make sure to find common tastes and know when to compromise.

  1. Don’t skimp on toilet paper!

I know this article has just been tips on saving money, but NEVER skimp on your toilet paper if you have to buy your own. Choosing the cheapest option doesn’t always mean it’s the best option. In fact, in my experience it has never been the best option. One-ply generic toilet paper might make your bank account happy, but you definitely won’t feel the same. Just reach for the toilet paper you know will treat you right.

After reading this article, I hope you go forth on your grocery trips armed with knowledge and ready to save money!