For many college students and first time renters, being in charge of grocery expenses is a challenge. The responsibility of coming up with a meal plan, purchasing groceries within your budget and making sure you’re still eating healthily can be difficult. Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be so much of a challenge, however. We’ve compiled some tips to help you save money on groceries without having to scrimp.
- Coupons, Discount Cards and Student Discounts
Coupons, discount cards and student discounts are some of the best ways to save cash on groceries. Most grocery stores have some form of a discount or membership card that allows you to get special discounts on groceries. Make sure to sign up for these cards and use them. If you’re a student, make sure to create a list of grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies that have a student discount, so you can be sure to save money at these stores.
Clipping coupons is another great way to ensure you’re not spending too much on groceries. You’re likely to receive coupons in the mail, but you can also download coupons from sites such as:
- Plan Ahead
Impulse purchases, more so than anything else, will throw a wrench in your grocery budget. One of the best ways to avoid impulse purchases is to craft a detailed meal and snack plan. When you have a detailed and balanced meal plan, you won’t be as tempted to buy a one-off box of cookies or potato chips. Additionally, going to the grocery store with a list ensures you’ll have all the food you need at home, which means you’ll be less likely to eat out or order in when you can’t really afford it.
- Compare Prices
Now that many grocery stores display their prices online, you can easily find estimated prices for your most frequently purchased items. If the stores you like are close together, it may be worth it to buy certain items at different stores, based on price.
- Grow Your Own Food
While living in a rental property, you won’t be able to have a fully-fledged garden. You can, however, make an indoor herb garden and grow a few fruits or vegetables. Doing this will help you save costs on produce and spices. Plus, gardening, even when scaled back, is great for managing stress.
- Freeze Food, Especially Produce and Meat
Freezing meat and produce are great ways to save cash and to still have your favorite foods around your home, even when they’re out of season.
- Consider Purchasing a Commuter Meal Plan
If you’re a student, a great way to save money on groceries is to purchase a commuter meal plan. This will make sure you’re able to eat healthy, balanced meals through your school without the added stress of trying to save on grocery shopping. Plus, the convenience of a meal plan will allow you to save time.
- Buy Generic Brands
Always buy generic food rather than name brand. Generic brands are typically just as high quality as name brands, and they are always more affordable. When you’re on a budget, buying generic ensures you’ll be able to purchase enough food to keep you full and to make healthy, balanced meals without breaking the bank.
- Eat Leftovers
Making food in bulk and then eating leftovers is one of the best ways to save money on groceries. This ensures that you’re not making single serve meals, which don’t offer much bang for your buck. Plus, being able to freeze leftovers ensures you’ll have delicious food that you like even when you may need to put off grocery shopping for a few days while you’re busy.
- Do Not Buy Prepackaged or Single Serving Foods
Prepackaged and single serving foods are almost always more expensive than their unpackaged or bulk counterparts. Make sure to buy things like block cheese, whole chicken and unpackaged fruit and vegetables. Not only is this much better for the environment, as you don’t have any unnecessary packaging, it also ensures you don’t waste money on something you can just as easily prepare at home.
Grocery shopping can seem intimidating, especially for renters who are responsible for their groceries for the first time. However, there are simple, tangible ways to save cash on groceries, making grocery shopping much less of a stressor and financial burden.