One of the toughest parts of being in college is figuring out how to stick to eating clean while sticking to a minimal budget. After being in college for almost three years now, I’ve definitely picked up a few tips to get my grocery budget to $20 or less a week. It definitely takes practice, but here are some tips to make sticking to your budget a whole lot easier.
Make A List, And Leave Snacks Off Of It
Take a look at your pantry and fridge and make a list of exactly what you need for the next week or couple of weeks. If you go grocery shopping weekly, the only things that should be on your list are produce, poultry, and cheese. This also includes bread if you don’t freeze it. This should cut down your budget already. A bad habit of many people is going to the grocery store and buying whatever their heart desires (usually snacks and cookies) and spending an absurd amount of money. My suggestion is set a budget for yourself, make a list of the groceries you need (leaving snacks off of it), and whatever money you have left over after buying your needed groceries can be spent on snacks. My go-to snack is trail mix or fruit and nut bars.
Buy In Season
Shopping for in season produce will make your life a whole lot easier. Shopping out of season produce is not only more expensive, but there’s also no guarantee that the produce is going to last it’s entire shelf life. While I love strawberries just as much as the next person, I would much rather pay $2.00 for them in the spring rather than $4.00 for them in the fall. Below is a seasonality chart listing what produce is in season and when.
Eat Before Hitting The Store
This may be a given, but most people will go grocery shopping on an empty stomach and wonder why their grocery bill is $75 for that week. I like to go to the grocery store in the morning after I have eaten breakfast because it is less crowded and has shorter lines. I like to pack myself a granola bar and a water so that there are no chances I will start throwing groceries into my cart out of hunger. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach leads to buying unhealthy, sugar filled snacks because that is what your body craves. Eating before you go makes it easier to stick to your list and to your healthy habits.
Buy In Bulk
Groceries such as nuts & seeds, whole grain pasta, cereal, nut butters, and grains such as quinoa can be bought in bulk, and will often be cheaper than buying individual packages. These items have a long shelf life, so buying these items in bulk about once a month will cut your weekly shopping bill drastically. Try shopping for these items at a bulk food store and cut your bill even more.
Do Some Research
Sometimes it turns out that store brand products can be just as good as the regular brands you know and love. I do a lot of my shopping at Market Basket and it turns out that a lot of their store brand products taste just like regular brand products. I stick to buying the Market Basket brand almonds and cashews and, as a matter of fact, their store brand milk is actually Hood milk just at a cheaper price. Speaking of milk, rather than buying dairy milk, I like to buy almond milk due to the fact that it is way healthier and it’s shelf life is about 4 weeks.
While grocery shopping in college is a pain, it does prepare you for what lies ahead. Once you’ve graduated and begin living on your own, it’s apparent that you know how to grocery shop on a budget. I guarantee that sticking to these tips will help you cut down your grocery bill and save you some money for buying more important things – like clothes and shoes!
xox – Ashley