Buying Groceries on a College Budget

A few days ago I shared a little bit of information about my college budget and today I am diving a little deeper into my grocery budget. Without a meal plan, I am cooking or providing myself with all the meals I eat. I typically spend about $100 each month on groceries and I divide that up into about 1/2 food staples and longer lasting groceries, 1/4 groceries that last only a short while, and 1/4 fresh fruits and veggies.

The staples that I keep in my pantry or fridge are:
pasta noodles
canned soups
canned veggies
baking spices and necessities
almond milk

The foods that last for short periods of time include:
bread (it keeps longer in the fridge)
sandwich meat
turkey bacon (because I am that person that dislikes "real" bacon)

The fresh foods that are always present in my kitchen include:

When I purchase the staples for my pantry I intend for them to last one to two months so I don't always buy these each month. The other food lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This means that I try to make about two bigger trips to the grocery store each month and maybe one or two smaller ones.

For me going to the grocery store is a big deal because I tend to be the person who impulsively buys everything! Because of this I make sure to always have a list with me when I make the trip. I keep it pinned up on my cork board and add items to it until the day I run to the store. At the store I only allow myself to get the items on my list.

I also make sure to plan out my weekly menu and cook items that can be reused in other meals later in the week. For example I may cook chicken and veggies on Monday night and then use the leftover chicken to have chicken salad for lunch on Wednesday. This prevents me from wasting items that I have bought.

After I plan out my weekly menu, I scan the local ad that seems to make its way to my mailbox somehow. Sometimes the local stores have great deals on meats and fresh vegetables. If so I make sure to pick these items up from there. I also like to check the local farmer's market for fresh seasonal veggies. Often they are cheaper than grocery stores and are always fresher.

The rest of the items I pick up at Walmart. Let me go off the record to say that I (with a passion) hate Walmart. However, it is the only chain grocery store in my town, it has the cheapest prices, and it just came out with My Savings Catcher, which is a lifesaver! I can go to Walmart, spend about $30 on food, scan my receipt (and a few other people's that fell on the ground...) and get back about three to four dollars, which goes to the next grocery bill!

When I head out grocery shopping or just shopping in general, I also use Shopkick. Shopkick is an app that gives you points for walking into stores or scanning certain items in the stores. Once you earn a certain amount of points you can trade them in for gift cards. I typically get Target giftcards to use when I go to the town over. This is a great way to pick up a few specialty food items that I typically wouldn't get! (and my specialty, I mean cake and candy!)

What are your favorite tips to buying groceries?

No comments:

Post a Comment