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How to Grocery Shop on a Budget in College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

At some point during your time in college, you will most likely have to ditch your meal plan and move on to starting to cook for yourself. This can be a daunting task for some, as it is not something they have done before. Being a student also means that we have to be conscious of how much we spend at the grocery store. It is easy to put things in your shopping cart without a second glance at the price. However, when you get to the till, the reality of how expensive food shopping is can be a hard pill to swallow. As someone who had to start grocery shopping for the first time at the beginning of last semester, I have learned many tips and tricks for shopping practically.

Write a list

It’s a classic tip, but making a list is extremely helpful when shopping. This way, you will not forget anything you need and it will also reduce the likelihood of being tempted by other non-essential items. I have noticed that when I do not write a list, I go to the grocery store more frequently than when I write one.

Get your local store’s loyalty card

While it can be frustrating to have loyalty cards for every store you shop in, the grocery store is key. Here in Storrs, the Price Chopper loyalty card offers good discounts. I always look out for the yellow tags on products and try to take advantage of the discounts whenever the product meets my needs. Having a loyalty card saves me $2 to $4 every time I shop. It may not seem like much, but it all adds up eventually.

Do not go to the store as soon as you need to

There will be days when you run out of something and feel the immediate need to run to the store to replace it. My advice would be to wait a few days until you find yourself in the same situation for multiple items. You probably have alternative things you can eat that you already own rather than buying even more stuff.

Compare prices

Again, it seems like a given, but sometimes we become careless and forget to check prices, especially if we are rushing or tired after a long day of classes. We all have certain brands we like and always reach for, but why not try an alternative one if it’s cheaper. You may end up liking it just as much and can then switch brands and save more money.

Avoid buying ready-made meals

I have fallen into this trap before, so I get it. The sushi platters at the store entrance always call my name. I have, one too many times, caved in. The truth is, ready-made meals are practical but they can be expensive, especially if they become a regular purchase. Sometimes we do not have time to cook. However, there are alternative ways of making a quick meal rather than simply reheating something in the microwave or oven. Buying precooked meat or rice in a bag that requires 90 seconds in the microwave are all options that are cheaper, make more than one meal, and will be ready in a matter of minutes.

Amélie is a Communication and Sociology major at the University of Connecticut. She enjoys reading, writing, music, and all things pop-culture related
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