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5 Pro Tips For Grocery Shopping While Living in an Apartment

If you were lucky enough to somehow have gotten apartment housing this year, chances are you're now off a meal plan and cooking for yourself in your very own tiny kitchen.

If this is the case, congratulations! You're sort of an adult! I say "sort of" because there is a very good chance that, like me, you may have pinned those crock pot recipes and mug cakes with the best of intentions, but when it comes down to it, you're eating chicken noodle soup for the fourth day in a row with some stale bread and half a KIND bar you found in your backpack. 

In the spirit of learning how to ~adult~ more successfully, I have compiled a grocery list of items that can help you create healthy, simple meals, snacks, and desserts so that you're able to eat well, eat quickly, and stop spending all of your money on food.

 

1. Buy simple ingredients for salads, and only buy the amount of produce that you'll actually use.

Salads are healthy, delicious and obviously very easy to assemble. However, it's really easy to spend all of your grocery money on produce like I did when I spent $50 and somehow, two days later, end up with just carrots.  The best way to avoid this is to pick one or two salad recipes with the same lettuce base and buy only the ingredients you absolutely need to create them. My personal favorite is a spinach salad with shredded carrots, dried cranberries and avocado (Price Chopper usually has great sales on them) with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. This is an easy, healthy way to make a meal with plenty of leftovers.  You can also add leftover protein such as chicken, steak or tuna and it only takes about 5 min to assemble. Remember, even if produce is on sale, only buy the amount that you will actually consume before it goes bad. You may feel great about saving a few dollars in the moment, but when your fridge is filled with ten green onions that are rotting away, you'll wish you'd just passed on the sale altogether.

P.S. Click the pic for a great spinach salad recipe! 

 

2. Spend the bulk of your money on protein.

With the amount of antibiotics and hormones given to animals these days, it's important to make sure that if you're a meat eater, you are buying quality meat. Meat can be expensive, but if you eat a little bit every day and you only buy as much as you need, it's definitely worth it. My personal favorites are packets of Applegate Turkey or Ham, which come in small packages that should be enough for a few sandwiches, salads, or whatever you want to put it on. Another option that makes everything easy and quick are fully-cooked chicken sausages that you just have to warm up, slice, and throw in a pasta dish, on a salad, or right on a bun to eat like a hot dog. Try al fresco for all natural, gluten free, and flavorful chicken sausages.

 

3. Find healthy(ish) snacks and STOCK UP.

When you come home from class or you're on a Netflix binge, a snack is always the way to go. When an apple just won't do, look for snacks that pack a punch of flavor, but are lower in salt and sugar than things like candy or chips. Fiber One Brownies only have 90 calories and 7 grams of sugar each, but are super chocolatey (I promise they don't taste like cardboard) for when you're craving something sweet. Back To Nature Chocolate Chunck Cookies have 6 grams of fat and 9 grams of sugar per serving and are also sustainably farmed and additive free. If you're looking for a salty snack, try Skinny Pop, a pre-popped popcorn that is lightly salted, non GMO and absolutely delicious.  Pretzel Crisps are also a great alternative if you're looking for some variety as they come in a number of flavors including buffalo wing, garlic parmesan and sriracha & lime. Snacks like these will tide you over until lunch or dinner and you can snack guilt free.

 

4. Spices are your best friend. 

If your meals are becoming so bland that they're starting to blend together, add some spice to your food. Spices aren't usually too expensive, and can jazz up any meal. Test drive a few different kinds to figure out your favorites and make sure that you always have them on hand. Curry powder elevates simple things like salads, tuna and chicken to an entirely new level. If you like to eat organic, Whole Foods' 365 brand makes spices in small containers for a little over a dollar each so you can feel free to buy more than just one or two.

 

5. Always have simple 5-minute options for every meal. 

Make sure that you always have quick options available like cans of soup, fruits, granola, greek yogurt, oatmeal, and dry cereals.  This way, when you're on the run or you just don't feel like extensively cooking, you have easy options to turn to.

 

Hopefully these tips help you to simplify your shopping experience, pick better snacks and save a bit of money along the way. Happy shopping collegiettes!

 

 

 

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