5 Essential Grocery Shopping Tips for College Students

So you’re a college student about to embark on a new lifelong journey of grocery shopping for yourself.  Maybe you’re living off campus, or you just don’t feel like a meal plan is for you. Here are some helpful grocery shopping tips to help you get the most bang for your buck or even to just make this dreaded errand more fun!

1. Sign up for your grocery store’s reward program

This is the very first thing you should do before you start shopping.  Almost all stores’ programs are free and simple to sign up for; there is no downside to signing up!  Depending on the program, you could spend a certain amount using your card and get a free item or even get customized coupons based on your past shopping trips!  It is such an easy way to save money!

2. Look at coupons!

I know almost of us ignore those tons of coupons that print out with our long receipt after shopping, but that’s a grave mistake!  Like mentioned in the previous tip, these coupons can be great! Many times they are coupons for items you buy on a regular basis, or maybe something you’ve wanted to try, which can lead to an awesome treat yo’self!  Also, ShopRite has digital coupons, in which you can log on to your ShopRite card online and add coupons to your card that will come off when you use it at checkout! And there’s a ShopRite located conveniently right down the road from TCNJ!

3. Buy store brand when you can

Depending on the item, opting for the store brand or generic can save you a lot of money without losing quality.  One place I’ve definitely noticed this is in over the counter medications and vitamins. There is essentially no difference in the formulas; it’s just the brand name being able to charge more because you know the name.  But the off brand versions can be half the price! And on top of that, vitamins go on sale for half off very often, so buy large quantities when they’re on sale, so you won’t run out in between.

But don’t get generic for everything; if your favorite shampoo is on the pricey side but makes your hair feel amazing, then get it!  I speak from experience of buying two dollar shampoo once, and now I really feel the advantage of buying my eight dollar shampoo. But in the case of canned carrots, the fancy looking label probably isn’t going to make the carrots any more exciting than they already are.   


4.  Make a grocery shopping playlist

This isn’t a money saving tip, but it can make your shopping experience much more enjoyable.  Put together a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to as you peruse down the aisles, and it’s sure to make your shopping trip fly by!  It also gives you something to look forward to if you haven’t had a lot of time to just listen to your music. Extra tip, keep a pair of earbuds in one of your reusable grocery bags, so you don’t forget to bring them to the store.  

5.  Make a shopping list - and stick to it!

One of the easiest ways to go over your budget when grocery shopping is going in without a plan.  Seeing all the food without laying out how much you actually need for the week can get you to grab everything in sight you think you might eat.  Before you leave your home, bust out the pen and paper or the notes app on your phone and figure out what you really need to make it through to your next shopping trip.  You might be surprised at how little you really need to get, and it can prevent you from forgetting something you actually need.