Groceries on the Cheap

When budgeting, I have two primary concerns that I think many college students share:

1) Pay rent to keep a roof of some sort over my recently highlighted head.

2) Social spending, as in, how many nights a week do the remaining funds allow for.

Please note that these are not necessarily considered in that order, which can cause trouble.

Depending on whether your college town is ridiculously expensive (see: going to college in a major city) or suuuper cheap (see: anyplace where drinks are less than $4.00 each or has promotions like “dollar long island night”), your bank account is going to take a very different sort of beating by means of your social budget.

But food is an essential, and when takeout can cost more than your bar tab, grocery shopping to save some green is a great habit to have.

Some tricks that I’ve picked up, courtesy of undergrad:

1) It costs more to eat healthy. And no, this does not stand as an endorsement of the lettuce-and-cheap-vodka diet! What we’re getting at is the fact that you can cut down the cost of your basic essentials. If you want to be a label whore, fine, but keep it to your wardrobe. Store-brand basics, like cereals, are much cheaper than brand-name foods. Same goes with frozen veggies and canned foods—the ingredients are basically the same, only a little less pricey.

A dollar saved is an extra dollar toward the cute bartender’s tip. Desperate for a cheap, salty snack? Pretzels are usually pretty cheap and are better for you than your basic chip.

2) It’s not as cute as your sorority or fraternity labeled bottle-opener keychain, but use the stupid discount keychain cards. They actually do save you money.

3) Buy a Brita and stop with the bottled water already. You’ll save more than you think, and if you have roommates, you can go in on it and make it even cheaper…

4) Since you’re shopping for one, make a point to try and buy portions you’ll use. A trick for things like bread, which can go stale pretty quickly, is to keep it in the freezer and use as you need. Let it thaw on its own or pop it in the toaster or microwave, depending on your intention. Likewise, don’t buy a gallon of milk if you’ll only drink a half gallon by the expiration date… make sense?

Any other suggestions for how to save? Let us know!

[adorable photo from icanhascheezburger.com] 

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