A Collegiete's Unofficial Budget Grocery Guide

Grocery shopping can be incredibly expensive, which is why many college students revert to eating unhealthy, processed foods just because they’re cheap (@Ramen). However, groceries don’t have to be so expensive with these tips:

Choose your store wisely.

According to “Which Store is the Best Value to Shop for Groceries in the Twin Cities” by Clara James, Walmart Supercenter is the cheapest place to get groceries in the Twin Cities. The closest one is on Twin Lakes Parkway, which is about a 40 minute bus ride or a 10 minute drive. The second most affordable grocery store is Target (not the one in Dinkytown, though!) You can easily get to multiple Target’s from campus by taking the light rail to the Nicollet Mall or Prospect Park stop.

Use coupons.

Coupons are a college kid’s best friend. Though many of us don’t get the paper with weekly ads, most grocery stores have their ads online.  If you shop at Target often, download the Cartwheel app, which will conveniently let you sort through Target coupons. Also, download money-saving grocery apps like Checkout 51, which gives you cashback for certain grocery items -- just upload a picture of your receipt!

Buy store brands (sometimes).

Store brands are often cheaper than brand names -- sometimes only by a few cents, but it all adds up. However, use caution when buying store brands, because they can be higher in fat or sodium than brand name products. Here are some grocery items that you should buy the generic brand of: salt and pepper, sugar, baking powder, fresh produce, milk, bread and eggs.

Make a list before you shop and stick to it closely.

Don’t just meander around the aisles aimlessly because you may end up forgetting things you need or buying things you don’t. Plan your meals out for the week so you know what you have already and what you need to buy. Your list will keep you on track and on budget!

Shop smart and make the most out of your money.

Buy foods that are filling and healthy, but not too expensive! Here’s a list of great foods for low prices:

  1. Bananas - high in potassium and usually cost less than 50 cents.

  2. Brown rice - healthier and more flavorful than white rice and only costs 18 cents per cup!

  3. Milk - a great way to get calcium! Less than 25 cents per cup.

  4. Cottage cheese - high in protein and great with canned fruit like pineapple or mandarin oranges. $1 for a ½ cup.

  5. Almonds - An easy way to get fill you up and get quick protein. These seem a little expensive at 60 cents per ounce, but they’re more substantial than you’d think.

  6. Sweet potatoes - Only $1 per pound and a healthy, sweet dinner addition!

Check out this article for more bargain buys when you’re grocery shopping.

Groceries are definitely a huge expense, but they’re also essential. Don’t overspend when you shop. Get the most of your money!