Grocery Shopping on a College Budget




By Jillian Fernandez


It’s that time of the week again, the time when you’re craving a late night snack and you open up your fridge only to find it empty and think to yourself, “I have no food left.” With all of those papers, exams, and club meetings, you’ve somehow forgotten or haven’t had the time to do your necessary grocery shopping.  


These days, grocery trips seem to be somewhat of a hassle for students and budgeting is a common theme among Chapman students.


“I’ve basically cut going out to eat at this point so I can save money for other important things," said junior creative producing major Aya Lehman. "I always pack lunch and make sure to eat a big breakfast so I don’t feel the need to buy snacks through the day. I mostly buy basic things that I can mix together such as pasta, eggs, tortillas, and apples, which are my staples and try to add a little spice to everything. It’s rough, but I’ve made it so far."


Whether students are paying for things on their own or still relying on parents, budgeting still plays a key factor in their lives.


“I’m still dependent on my parents, so I wouldn’t want to waste their money," said junior health science major Allie Kawata. "I don’t have a set budget because I don’t go grocery shopping every single week so I go whenever I need.  I try not to waste money on things that I don’t need or don’t really want."


Another factor that a college budget can affect is eating healthy.


“Eating healthy on a college budget is difficult to do," said junior business major Costina Papatheodorou. "What time does a college student have to cook and make a fresh meal every day? The answer is no time at all. It’s also hard to afford healthier options so that’s another reason why it’s so hard to eat well."


Here are some tips for shopping on a college budget.

  1. Set a clear weekly budget for yourself. Try your best to budget for the month and leave room for hobbies, eating out, and necessary groceries.

  2. Compile a grocery list ahead of time.  Making a list of things that you really need will help you avoid grabbing everything you want. Having a clear, concise list will help you to stay on track of your budget.

  3. Do your grocery shopping at a time when you are not hungry. Doing so will prevent the temptation of buying all of the food you crave for at the time. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a way that can often lead to overspending on unnecessary snacks or junk food.

  4. Use your smartphone! Use helpful apps such as My Weekly Budget (MyWB) or Simple Budget Weekly.

  5. Go straight to the check out line when you are finished gathering your list of groceries. Try to avoid the snacks, candy, and soft drinks that catch your eye right before paying.

  6. Look out for coupons! You never know what coupons lie in that pile of junk mail. From things like coupons off of Domino’s Pizza to Subway sandwiches, coupons can actually save you some pennies.

  7. Look out for grocery store specials. There are times when chicken breast may be cheaper than usual. Look out for ads that reveal the sales on your favorite grocery items.

  8. Don’t limit yourself to name brands. Often times the generic brand is just as good as the name brand. You’ll be sure to save some money if you follow this simple tip.

  9. Buy in bulk.

Save your receipts! This will enable you to track your expenditures easily and go back to see how you spent your money.


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