How to Save Money in College: Smart Grocery Shopping
Updated: May 12
It’s common knowledge that college teaches a person a lot more than the facts included in the curriculum. It’s also an intense course on independent living, which involves keeping your room tidy, taking care of your everyday diet, planning your days around various commitments, and, of course, planning your budget.
Once you move out of your comfort zone (a.k.a. your parents’ house), you’ll notice quite a lot of your daily expense is spent on keeping your belly full – and it’s a tricky place for saving, as food isn't really something you can go without! Lucky for you, the Honeygain team cares not just about helping you boost your monthly income by sharing your internet bandwidth and earning effortlessly: we’re also keen to teach you about saving, and in this article, we’re going to share all our best tricks for saving on food items.
Tip #1: Prevent food waste
Saving on food starts with making sure you don’t buy food you’ll end up throwing away. Here are three simple tips to help you waste less money and produce – the planet will thank you!
Remember you’re shopping for one...
If you’re used to going shopping for the whole family with your parents, it might be hard to shake off the habit of getting everything in large packages – but will you really drink an entire gallon of milk before it expires? Probably not – and you won’t finish a 30-egg pack while they’re fresh, either. When buying items that have a short shelf-life (e.g., meat or dairy), always think realistically about how much of them you actually consume on a daily basis.
...but make the most of grocery deals for non-perishables
When it comes to items that have a long shelf life, it’s always a good idea to get more while they’re on sale. This goes for dry ingredients (e.g., salt, grains, or canned products). Just don’t try to stock up on everything: as a college student, you probably don’t have a ton of storage space. Moreover, long shelf life doesn’t mean forever – and you’re saving on food, not trying to build a bunker! A good rule of thumb is to aim for the amount you typically consume in no more than three months.
Get friendly with your freezer
A freezer is the best friend of anyone looking for ideas on how to save money in college. If you’ve got access to one, it can save you from wasting so much food! Make it a habit to check your fridge every few days and think whether you’ll be able to consume everything before it goes bad. If you won’t, check whether they can’t be frozen! You’ll be surprised to see how many products and leftovers of complete dishes can be frozen and reheated. Aside from saving money, you’ll also save time!
Tip #2: Be aware of supermarket tricks
There’s a gazillion tricks the people working in supermarkets use to make you buy more – and the better you understand them, the easier it is for you to avoid actually getting tricked.
Always look up and down
Shops always put the products that bring them the most profit in places where customers are most likely to notice them. If you approach a supermarket shelf, these items will be at your eye level – but more often than not, they will be far from the best choice for those saving on food. Spend a little time checking out different options, and don’t shy away from store-brand items: they’re cheaper, and the quality doesn’t always differ. Some people actually swear Target's Market Pantry Ranch Dressing is even better than Hidden Valley’s – and the former is HALF the price!
Don’t go wandering the aisles
Have you ever noticed how the items people tend to buy the most often (e.g., bread, meat, or dairy) are always placed at opposing corners of the shop? It’s done that way on purpose: by making you walk around the entire store, the salespeople boost the chances of you seeing more grocery deals and getting more items into your cart on the way. If you’re saving on food, try to stick to the things you need and skip the sections you had no intention of buying anything from.
Don’t succumb to impulse buys
Shop managers are fully aware you get bored when waiting in line – that’s why they put all the small things that are easy to grab without giving it a second thought right next to the registers! Think about it: haven’t you ever added a magazine or a candy bar to your cart at the last minute? Always think whether you actually need a specific item, or you’re just bored and looking for distractions. Let’s face it: no one’s life ever went downhill because they didn’t buy an extra pack of chewing gum!
Tip #3: Make the most of modern technologies
As a college student, you probably spend a ton of time online anyway – so why not make the most of it when it comes to saving on food, too?
Give shopping for groceries online a try
A lot of big supermarkets now offer home deliveries or curbside pickup – and it’s not just a massive timesaver but also a great help if you’re looking at how to save money in college. First, it’s way easier to fill your virtual shopping cart with items you need without wandering off to other aisles and seeing enticing deals for stuff you weren’t planning to buy. Second, seeing the total worth of the items in your cart displayed at all times will make it harder to keep adding things you don’t need without giving it a second thought!
Get smart about searching for new recipes
It’s easy to say we should make the most of what’s already in our fridges and pantries when saving on food, right? However, as a college student, you might not have enough kitchen experience to come up with recipes on the spot. Luckily, websites like SuperCook let you search for recipes by listing the ingredients you already have! Moreover, it includes basic recipes that only need two or three ingredients. Using these websites, you can waste less food, shop less often, and, naturally, spend less money!
Earn extra money with passive income apps
Saving on food is smart – but there’s one more thing you shouldn’t forget: aside from spending less, you can also try to earn more. Of course, we understand you might not have a lot of time to invest in side hustles when you’re in college – but have you thought about giving passive income apps a try?
Honeygain is a free application that lets you generate free money by simply running it on your desktop or mobile device… or both: you can have up to 10 active devices connected to your account and earning simultaneously without you adding any effort. All you need is a fast and stable internet connection – which, as a student, you’re probably using every day anyway!