Healthy Hacks For Grocery Shopping in College

When it comes to grocery shopping you either love it or don’t care much for it. As we get older and try to live healthy lives on a tight and busy schedule it can be hard to figure out how to do this without spending too much money. In college, we’re typically cooking for one (ourselves) and doing so on a budget. Grocery shopping on a budget isn’t rocket science, but it doesn’t come easy to everyone especially if you’re just getting off your meal plan or don’t know much about cooking for one. There are a few hacks and simple tricks to think about when you're creating your grocery list, especially when cooking for one.

Groceries by the Week

Buying groceries once per week makes it easier to budget, eat healthily and make sure perishables don’t go bad. By buying your groceries once per a week you’re able to create a weekly budget that you can maintain for the long term. Instead of budgeting for two weeks or a month, for example, you’re setting your routine to a weekly mode that allows you to have a steady budget when it comes to grocery shopping. Most importantly, buying groceries every week allows you to only buy what you need for seven days, ensuring that produce and any perishables won’t go bad, which would be the case if you bought groceries less often. Another aspect to consider and that works well for me, is buying non-perishable staples in bulk at the beginning of the semester. I buy my dry items in bulk at Costco, that won’t go bad within the semester such as brown rice, chia seeds and oatmeal, and buy my weekly groceries at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Kroger (sometimes the farmer’s market too). At the end of the day, you’re forecasting what you’re going to eat and saving time by doing so, saving money by eliminating waste, eating healthier in turn, and creating a steady weekly budget for yourself.

Meal Prep For Days

Meal prep is my saving grace as an extremely busy college student that’s only cooking for one, and it can be yours too! Meal prepping allows you to cook a large quantity at the beginning of the week and prepare for your meals throughout it. It allows you to be on the go and put together pre-cooked/made ingredients to create a delicious and nutritious meal fast. When you're creating your grocery list think about buying ingredients that you can prep at the beginning of the week that are easy to create multiple meals out of. For example, you could prep brown rice or any other grain, a protein like baked chicken breasts, some greens and other vegetables to make a delicious grain bowl for lunch. With these same meal-prepped ingredients you could create a hearty salad with a simple olive oil lemon vinaigrette that you could whip up in less than a minute. Along with this, one of the best ways to get around cooking for one is meal prepping because it allows you to cook large quantities (i.e. recipes that serve more than one person or ingredients that have to be cooked in larger quantities) and then eat it throughout the week in different versions of meals. Meal prepping allows you to get the most bang for your buck and makes time for you to stay as productive as possible.

What won’t go bad? Consider Ingredients with Multiple Uses.

Cooking for one can be a challenge because most recipes are meant to create three to four servings or more, but most people don’t want to waste food or eat the same thing for a week. It’s important to think of ingredients that are healthy but won’t go bad right within the week. For example, think of vegetables that can be refrigerated with a good shelf life and can be used for multiple meals like baby carrots (cook with them or take them as a snack on the go), eggs, broccoli, apples and more. The key takeaway here is to put items on your grocery list that won’t go bad rapidly and have high nutritional value.


As college students, we’re always on the go, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make time to eat healthy and save money by cooking for ourselves. By strategically grocery shopping and figuring out what hacks work best for your lifestyle/schedule, you too can eat nutritionally and cook for yourself inexpensively in college.

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