Attending college is expensive enough. From purchasing books, supplies, housing, and everything else that comes with it, adding in a grocery budget can be extremely difficult. Believe it or not, there is a way for grocery shopping to be both healthy and affordable. Here is a college girl’s perfect guide to grocery shopping.

1) Create your list and stick to it

Set aside a small amount of time each week to plan your grocery trip. Search for an online grocery checklist if you need one. Divide your list into categories of fruit, vegetables, dairy, deli, frozen, canned, condiments, supplies, and whatever else you need. This will help you move through the store as quickly and efficiently as possible.

2) Utilize advertisements and coupons

Chances are, you throw your grocery flyers straight into the trashcan each week. Instead, pick out the ones for stores you’re going to shop at and go over what sales they’re having. Plan your list around sale items and cut coupons to save money – don’t forget to stick to the healthy stuff.

3) Apps

Many stores like Target have phone apps that provide special offers and allow you to see what’s on sale. Search these apps before going shopping to save money.

4) Set a budget before going to the store

Have an outlined budget of how much you want to spend on groceries each week and stick to it. Have it ready before you go to the store or you will be tempted to spend more money than you should. If you need help planning your budget, get an app like Mint, which allows you to manage your money, pay bills and track your credit score.

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5) Utilize your kitchen

If you have a kitchen, use it as much as you can. Try to stay away from too many snack foods and “pre-made” foods – instead buy ingredients that you can put together to make healthy meals. This doesn’t mean that your recipes need to be difficult. Use websites like Pinterest to search for healthy and easy recipes. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

6) Meal Prep

College is busy. When you leave for class early in the morning and don’t come home until late at night, cooking can be a huge burden. To make life easier, prep all or most of your meals on Sunday. Pack them into portable containers so you can take them with you to campus.

7) Save your receipts

While many stores don’t require a receipt to return something, it’s good to have it handy if you need to. Receipts will also help track how much you’re spending on groceries and will force you to be extra conscious of your budget. Sometimes, stores will also put coupons on your receipts, and saving a few extra dollars doesn’t hurt.

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8) Shop in season

Usually, the food that is in season will be most affordable. In the fall, squashes and cranberries are in season, while in the summer, fruits like strawberries and apricots are great to buy. It’s always best to know what’s in season – it will be cheaper and taste better. If you don’t know what’s in season, check out Eat the Seasons.

Eating healthy and staying on track with your budget in college can be tough, but use this guide to succeed at every grocery trip.

Jennifer D.
Jennifer Duplessie is a senior at Texas A&M University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in political communications incorporating her passion for writing and photography.

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