Grocery Shopping on a College Budget

Moving to college is one of the early steps in adulting. The higher you move up the ranks in school, the closer to real adulthood you get. You may get your first real job, start your credit or even move into an apartment. Although from the surface these things may appear simple enough, sometimes the most menial tasks like grocery shopping can prove to be daunting. Never fear, a guide to all things grocery in college is right here!

  • Start with a list. It may seem easier to just wing it but making a list will help out in the long run. The list will keep you focused and help to curb those impulse buys. Be sure to keep an ongoing list of items you need on the outside of your refrigerator and pantry.
  • You can eat healthy. Don’t let the naysayers confuse you. You can still maintain a healthy lifestyle in college.
  • Buy in bulk. It may be cheaper to buy frequently used items in bulk from wholesale clubs. While the price may seem higher at first, if you do the breakdown it is likely you are getting a higher quantity for a lower price. Around the New Brunswick area, we have BJ’s, Sam’s Club, and Costco.
  • Always be on the lookout for good coupons and sales in the paper. Be sure to utilize your student discounts. Check out our list of places where students are eligible for discounts.
  • Buy reusable ingredients. Certain veggies, sauces, and baking goods are great to keep on hand because they can be easily reused in other meals.
  • Generics work. Don’t let name brands fool you. Sometimes generic versions of your favorite products taste no different than the pricey name brand ones.
  • Shop seasonally. Buy the produce that’s in season as out of season produce tends to be a little more expensive.
  • Only buy what you need. Don’t be lured in the expansive aisles of food. Only buy what’s on your list.
  • Foods that keep you full. Try foods high in fiber to keep you full longer. Some of those foods include hummus, oatmeal, avocado, apples and nuts.
  • Nothing wrong with being basic. There is no need to make extravagant meals every night. Keep it simple and only make what you know you will eat.
  • Farmers markets. Farmers markets are a great place to find cheap and locally grown produce. There is even one located on George Street. Click here for details!
  • Cook with your roommates. Deciding to cook together may be a cheaper option if you have that relationship with your roommates.
  • Buy a coffee machine. Stop giving the local coffeehouse all your hard earned money and invest in a coffee machine with your favorite fixings.
  • Try cheaper grocery stores. Over the years stores like Walmart and Target have built reputable grocery sections. In addition, check out places like Aldi or other small local grocers.
  • Actually eat the food you buy. It is easy to get caught up in the fast paced college culture of Rutgers. You may find yourself buying extra food throughout the day. Pack meals and snacks from home to avoid spending on the go.
  • Food pantry. As we navigate into adulthood, we may trip and struggle. And that is okay. If there is ever a time you feel as if you have no money to buy food, visit our food pantry. Here you can anonymously seek help in both food security and other issues pertaining to your wellbeing.