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Ultimate Guide: How To Save Money On College Groceries

First off, making a budget helps you control your money. You decide how much to spend on food and avoid going overboard.

Plan out meals ahead of time

Planning your meals for the week is a game-changer. It’s like having a map for your grocery shopping. You only buy what you need, so no money gets wasted on things that sit in the fridge until they go bad.

Start by thinking about simple and nutritious meals that don’t cost much. Think ramen noodles with veggies or chicken breasts with rice. Then, make a list on your phone before you head to the store.

This way, you stick to what’s on it and avoid buying snacks or extras that hike up your bill.

Using apps can also help in planning and saving cash. Tools like Ibotta give cash back on groceries just from snapping pictures of your receipts… pretty cool, right? This practice cuts down trips to convenience stores where prices are higher than grocery stores.

So, embrace meal planning as part of college life—it not only saves money but teaches valuable budgeting skills too!

Set a limit on dining out

After planning your meals, it’s smart to think about how often you eat out. Eating at restaurants can drain your wallet fast. The average person spends about $369.36 each month on eating out.

That’s a lot of money! Instead, try packing a lunch or cooking at home more often. It costs less and is usually healthier too.

To save even more, use “guest swipes” if you have friends with meal plans who don’t always use them up. This way, you get free food on campus without spending extra cash. Keep an eye out for events offering free food as well—this is common in college and another great way to cut down on eating out expenses.

By setting limits on dining outside, you’ll have more money for things like textbooks and student loans without feeling stressed over finances.

Consider a cash back credit card for grocery shopping

Cutting down on eating out is a smart move, but you can also make your grocery shopping work for you. Getting a cash back credit card could be the next step in saving money. These cards give you some money back every time you buy groceries.

It feels like earning while spending.

I once used a cash back card that offered extra cash back on supermarket buys. This meant getting more money back when I shopped for bread, peanut butter, and other basics at stores like Tesco Metro or Sainsbury’s Local.

Plus, keeping track of what I spent on treats like sodas helped me budget better. By using one of these cards wisely, not only did I save money on essentials, but my credit score got better too—important for future needs like home loans or student aid applications.

And let’s not forget, building good habits with your personal finances now sets you up for success later on.

Strategize Your Grocery Shopping

A variety of fresh produce neatly organized in a shopping cart at a bustling market.

When you plan your grocery trips, think smart. Use coupons, pick no-name brands over fancy ones, and cook more to spend less.

Utilize store savings cards and weekly flyers

Sign up for a discount card at your local supermarket. This card gets you lower prices that others don’t see. Look in the weekly flyer, too. It shows you what’s on sale. Use both to save big.

Coupons help cut costs more. Find them in flyers or online. College student discounts and loyalty programs at grocery stores are gold, too. Always show your student ID for extra savings.

Buy generic or store brand products

Go for store brand items next time you shop. These products cost less than the big names. You might find they taste just as good or even better. This trick is a smart move for saving cash.

Many college students already do this to stretch their budgets.

Trying out these cheaper options can surprise you. They’re often made in the same places as more expensive brands but with different labels slapped on them. For things like dry pasta, pasta sauce, and peanut butter, going for the store version makes a lot of sense.

It leaves more money in your pocket for other needs or savings. Plus, embracing budgeting shows you’re handling your finances like an adult—something to be proud of while navigating college life.

Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk saves you money. Get large amounts of things like cooking oil, shelf-stable carbs, and pasta sauce. These items last a long time and are cheaper in big quantities. Look for sales at supermarkets and buy nonperishable items then.

This way, you can stock up and not worry about running out quickly.

Things like onions, potatoes, and carrots also last longer. Buying them in large bags is smart because it’s less expensive than buying small amounts many times. Plus, if you have extra food, freeze it! Freezing leftovers means you always have something to eat without spending more money later on.

Cook meals at home and utilize leftovers

Cooking at your place can cut down on how much you spend on eating. It’s cheaper and better for you than going out to eat or hitting up the fast-food spot. You’ve got this! For example, whipping up a big dish at the start of the week lets you have meals ready to go.

Think about turning dinner leftovers into an all-new lunch for tomorrow. Toss some extra veggies, grains, or whatever you find in the fridge into those ramen noodles. Trust me, it makes them way tastier and it’s good for your wallet.

I tried this myself last semester and was amazed at how much I saved. Instead of buying lunch every day, I began using leftovers from dinners to create new meals. Adding different spices or mixing in fresh ingredients made each meal feel new again.

My friends noticed and started asking for my recipes! Plus, using apps that give cash back on groceries like Too Good To Go really helped stretch my food budget even more.

Utilize apps for cash back on groceries

You can save a good chunk of cash on your food shopping by using apps that give you cash back for buying groceries. Many apps partner with big stores and some local ones to offer deals on things you’re going to buy anyway.

I’ve tried it myself. Just last week, I got money back for buying bread and milk—things I needed anyway.

These apps often have lists of promotions and digital education resources that can help you find the best deals at your favorite stores, including Sainsbury’s Local or any fast-food restaurant nearby campus.

You’ll need to snap a picture of your receipt most times, but seeing those savings add up in your account is worth it. It’s simple: shop, snap, and save!

Take advantage of campus dining options

Eating at the campus dining hall saves money and is easy. Meals there usually cost less. Plus, it’s right on campus, so you don’t have to go far. You might also get “guest swipes” from friends who have meal plans they’re not using up.

This means free meals for you! If you live off-campus, you often get Flex Dollars as part of your student plan. Use these wisely in the dining halls.

Find free food events too! Clubs, academic programs, and special campus events often offer free snacks or meals. It’s a fun way to eat without spending any cash. I once got to enjoy a full dinner just because I attended an info session for a club I was interested in joining! Keep an eye out for posters and emails about these opportunities—they’re more common than you might think.

Seek out free food on campus

Many schools host events and clubs that offer free food. This is a smart way to eat without spending money. Keep an eye out for these gatherings, as they happen often. You might find pizza, sandwiches, or snacks up for grabs.

Bringing your own snacks like fruit or granola bars also saves cash.

Clubs and academic programs sometimes give out food during meetings or special events. Joining these can be a fun way to meet new people and enjoy some free eats. Always carry a water bottle too, so you don’t have to buy drinks on campus.

This simple step will help keep your spending low while you’re studying hard in college.


Saving money on groceries while in college might seem tough, but it’s doable. You’ve got this! With the right plan—like using cash back cards and shopping smart—you can cut costs.

Try cooking more at home and grabbing free food when you can. Every little bit helps. Keep an eye on sales and use apps to save too. Stick with it, and you’ll see your grocery bill go down.