Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

How to grocery shop as a college student

cabudgetinghousingandliving.jpg

Go in with a plan 

Shopping without a list or defined goal often leads to a longer trip, higher bill and that awful feeling you have when you get home and realize that you forgot the one thing you went to the store for.  

In creating your shopping list, track your current food inventory to see what items you already have at home and what you are out of. Prioritize cooking with what you have to ensure things don’t spoil and you can clear out space for more food. 

If you have never shopped for yourself before, find recipes through articles, social media and cookbooks to find simple meals you can make. You can strategically plan out meals that have overlapping ingredients and ensure that the items you buy will actually translate into food you want to eat. Meal planning can also prevent you from buying too many random snacks and miscellaneous items that are not versatile or cost effective. 

Buy in bulk when possible 

If you have the space and financial means, take advantage of buying in bulk either by shopping at wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club or simply buying a few extras of a staple ingredient when you’re at the store.  

For instance, if I notice my favorite bread on sale, I might snag a couple of extra loaves to freeze for the future — saving me a bit of money in the long run. Utilizing your freezer is a great way to stock up on certain items while ensuring they won’t go bad before you have the chance to actually eat them. 

A metric to look for when shopping is the unit price of items. When comparing two brands of the same item, the one with that seemingly shows the cheaper price may not actually be the best value. By checking the unit price, you will see which item truly gives you the most bang for your buck. 

Canned, frozen and generic goods 

Canned and frozen vegetables are an excellent way to incorporate more nutrition into your meals without worrying about quick expiration. They can be cheaper than fresh produce and can make cooking nutritious meals a lot more convenient. 

While there are some brand name items that are far superior to their generic counterparts, I often buy things like pasta, baking goods, cleaning supplies and other simple items from the store’s generic brand. This cuts entire dollars off of many purchases, and often there is no difference in taste or quality. 

Apps and coupons 

If you frequent a particular grocery store, downloading their app opens up the opportunity to easily clip coupons on your frequently purchased items and earn fuel points as well. By being a member of a store’s rewards program, you will have access to member-only deals that save you money on various items throughout the store. 

When you print your receipt, check to see if the store printed any coupons with it, as these are often related to items you just bought.  

Go online 

If going to a grocery store in person feels too overwhelming or time consuming for you, try doing your shopping online by placing an order for pickup through your desired store. This can keep you on track with time and expenses, as you won’t be aimlessly wandering any aisles or picking up candy bars in the checkout aisle on impulse.  

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe