Saving money is at the top of everyone’s priority list. And, if you’re a student trying to do your own grocery shopping and cooking for the first time, you know just how hard it can be to feed yourself without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for navigating your next trip to the store:
- Make a plan and a list: Before you leave home, think about what you’d like to eat for the week and make a list of everything you’ll need. Planning ahead and sticking to your list will cut down on impulse buys and unnecessary purchases that increase you bill. (Don’t forget to stock up on some healthy snacks to avoid buying them at a higher price at local convenience stores. Here’s another Healthy Heels post to help you out!)
- Compare prices: Once you’re at the store, check out the price difference between name brand and store brand products. If they are different sizes, make sure to look at the unit price listed at the bottom of the price tag (like price per pound or ounce).
- Get the store’s discount card (think VIC or MVP): Most stores’ cards are free and the discounts add up.
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry: You’ve heard it a million times and it’s probably true. Chips and candy bars look ten times more inviting when you’re starving.
- Explore frozen and canned fruits and vegetables: These options last longer than fresh and can be just a healthy. If you buy canned foods go for low-sodium options or rinse them before cooking and avoid fruit in heavy syrups.
- Be adventurous in the kitchen: Less processed foods are usually cheaper than pre-prepared ones. So, if you have access to a kitchen, try cooking regular chicken breasts instead of buying pre-cooked ones or make soup from some beans and vegetables in place of buying lots of cans. Here are some quick and cheap meal ideas.
- Don’t buy in bulk unless you’ll be able to use it all before the expiration date: Yes, bulk foods are often cheaper per pound, but if you can’t use it all, you’re throwing away money.
With these tips and a little trial and error, buying your own groceries and cooking for yourself can be a great way to have fun, be healthy, learn new skills, and save money in the process!