Grocery Savings Tips for College Students

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Saige O’Rourke
A graphic with a forest green background and 3 images depicting grocery shopping: a basket, grocery bag, and a storefront.

Coming into college, I did not know how to properly grocery shop. I didn’t understand the concept of creating a list, never shopping hungry, and seeking out store brand items. That said, I wasted a lot of money in my first couple months of college on grocery items. Through my experience, I have finally developed 4 tips of how to save money while in the grocery store.

Don’t Shop Hungry

Starting out with a difficult one, you need to avoid shopping while hungry. When you’re hungry, you convince yourself you need everything on the shelves. Your creative food juices are flowing as you tell yourself, “Maybe I could make this,” then the item sits in your cabinet until the end date. You do not need the yellow cake mix, and you are not going to make it sometime this week. Instead, eat a snack or entire meal before you enter the store so that you aren’t shopping for your cravings instead of your needs.

Make a List

You need to make a list before you enter the store. If you don’t have an idea of what you need, you’ll most likely walk aimlessly down each aisle wondering what you can fill your fridge with. Instead, making a list allows you to be the student on a mission. You know exactly what you need and why, and you know you don’t need the Twizzler pack that someone left behind because you didn’t add it to your list.

Buy the Store Brand

Although there is a stigma against them, you should consider buying store brand items. We are all aware of the idea that the store brand isn’t as good as the name brand, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, I have found myself preferring these brands over others for different items. As an avid cheese lover, I will always choose the Great Value brand shredded parmesan cheese instead of the others. Buying the store brand can save you at least a dollar or two, which if you consider this for half of your list then you’re saving $10-$20.

Download the Store App

Lastly, download the store app and sign up for rewards. This tip can go for a lot of different stores or areas outside of the grocery section as well; signing up for your favorite gas station rewards could save you 3 cents off the gallon, which we all know is extremely valuable. Many stores have rewards programs that we avoid because of the promotional emails we receive, but you can unsubscribe to those and still save money. There are many deals provided to customers solely because they created an account. The store apps also supply a map of the location you are in, so you can look up the item & aisle instead of wasting time searching.

My bank account has been subject to the abuse of a grocery store too many times, and I’m sure yours feels the same way. Take these tips and use them in your next grocery store run! See what kind of difference you’re able to make over the next couple of months!

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