Could you give tips on how to grocery shop properly to make it last 2 weeks (so from one paycheck to another) as a college student? I'm a commuter student so I'm not on a meal plan at my school but I don't want to buy food on campus everyday. I don't know if this additional info is useful but I'll be going to classes 5 days a week. Thanks!
This is so doable! My boyfriend and I actually do our big shop once every three weeks. We’ll go out for toilet paper and that kind of stuff, but we do try to buy enough food to make it last.
- Buy Bulk. My number one tip for budgeting food is to BUY IN BULK. Instead of buying a chicken breast, buy eight and individually wrap them in plastic wrap. Freeze what you’re not going to eat within the next two days, and defrost as needed.
- Cook Bulk. Make a large pot of chili, soup, or your favorite pasta sauce. Buy plastic containers at Walmart and portion out your meals. Freeze them all! I do this with my pasta puttanesca sauce, I make it once every six months and cook enough to last.
- Store Brands. There are cheap knock off brands of everything from Cheez-Its to Quaker Oats. They’ll be anywhere from $1-$3 cheaper than the brand names. On a similar note, store brand cleaning supplies is about $5 cheaper than the name brands! Don’t judge them before you try them.
- Store Cards. My Stop & Shop card gives me a gas discount, and other store cards offer similar perks. Store card + store brands = ridiculous savings.
- Avoid Organics. Like I said in my last Adulting post, I’m not paying $4 for a cucumber unless it can clean my apartment and sing Jazz standards. Buy vegetables, but avoid anything labeled “organic”.
- Mixed Greens. Avoid buying “mixed greens” unless you’re going to eat them within a day or two, these have a very short shelf life. Instead, buy a head of lettuce or a bushel of kale.
- Frozen Produce. Stock your freezer with bags of peas, carrots, fruit, etc. These will defrost easily in your soups and are good if you run out of ice packs.
- Dollar Stores. They have really weird brands of chips and pasta and really poor quality paper towels, so don’t expect to do you entire shop here. However, they sell bulk tomato sauce, six packs of ramen, tuna fish and other wonderful things for under a dollar. My local Dollar store sells tubes of capers for a dollar when just down the street my organic supermarket sells them for upwards of $5.
- Buy Fruit. Specifically, BUY IN BULK at your local chain supermarket. My boyfriend and I have been throwing back those Cara Cara oranges like nobody’s business. Fruit is great for quick breakfasts, snacks, and a healthy alternative to downing a pint of Ben and Jerrys.
Budget-based cookbooks (online recipes)
- College Student Cookbook. Click here.
- Meals On The Go. Click here. (Not a cookbook, but super helpful)
- Broke College Kid Masterpost. Click here.
- Cooking on A Bootstrap. Click here.
- Good and Cheap. Click here.
- Budget Bytes. Click here.
I hope this helps!