Grocery Tips All College Students Need

By Alexis Angelini on March 11, 2017

Moving off-campus and no longer having a meal plan can be a big step! Gone are the days of dining halls and their (almost) unlimited, pre-prepared easy-access food in large quantities. Who would have thought that dining hall mac and cheese would be a luxury?

Now the time has come to actually be responsible for your cooking — yikes! Grocery shopping on your own can be a tad scary especially on a college student budget. But have no fear, I have all the tips needed for grocery store success!

1. Coupons, Coupons, Coupons

It may seem like something obvious, an elderly-women-only activity, or a TLC reality star’s obsession, but in the end, coupons really do help! Bringing up stacks and stacks of coupons to the register of the grocery store may feel silly but they do ultimately save you money. Coupons can help with perks such as $2 off, a $5 gift card when you buy certain items, and much more.

2. Planning Meals

It may seem tedious but by planning out each meal it allows for an easier way to save both money and time. Try searching for recipes online and then writing down a list for each day of each meal and what you’ll need. This way, when buying groceries, it can be as efficient as possible. This activity can even help make it easier to eat healthier. It can be easy to be clouded by the ever-so-familiar college staples such as Easy-Mac and Ramen noodles, but try to attempt to expand past the freshman fifteen classics.

Without meal planning, you will wander the aisles aimlessly trying to see what snacks can fit into the cart, which would take entirely too long and would waste money on unneeded food. Rachael Ray, celebrity chef and food writer, has weeks planned out on her website. Writer Emily Wyckoff from Ray’s website has laid out a whole week of meals perfect specifically for the purposes of planning.

She even has the recipes directly linked to each meal to make the whole process flawless. If using someone else’s recipes doesn’t exactly appeal to you then try the Food on the Table app. The simple design makes it easy for users to plug in what they want for the week all from their phone. Customers of the app love it with a 4.5 out of 5 rating! Meal planning is a great skill to have as you move into the early adult life.

3. Loyalty Cards and Savings Clubs

Loyalty cards and shopper’s clubs are straightforward ways to stick to the #collegelife budget. These cards allow exclusive perks for shoppers who sign up for a membership. Some of these perks include special prices for members, free printable coupons, and more. If it’s easier, try using a parent’s membership they already have. Creating a membership is typically a free and painless process towards more money! Some stores actually have these programs through apps for both Androids and iPhones alike.

Some grocery stores (and stores that sell groceries) have apps, which can help save money with their exclusive deals. Cartwheel, Target’s app, allows shoppers to access their deals directly from their phones. As their website explains, it works in three steps: choose offers on the things you love, scan your barcode at checkout, and finally save money and feel good.

College is a large transition period from the end of childhood to early adulthood with many changes. It’s a time where the responsibilities for things like doing your own laundry, cleaning the dishes, and obviously cooking, no longer falls on your parents. Taking complete control of the food you eat is definitely within this transition period.

College is typically a time where students are a little low on funds and try to save money in any way possible. I hope that these tips can help students stay on a budget while grocery shopping.

Alexis Angelini is a freshman at the University of Connecticut. She is majoring in English and loves to read and write. You can find her eating Cheez-its, watching How I met Your Mother, or spending time with friends. She hopes to write professionally for larger media outlets and you can currently find her pieces on

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