Every college student will learn within the first few weeks of college that Poptarts and Ramen won’t do for very long. Instead of surviving on prepackaged and pre-prepared foods, students should be trying to deals and coupons at their local grocery stores. Learning how to find savings at grocery stores is one of the key lessons college students will use for the rest of their lives.
The first step to grocery shopping is to budget an allotted amount. Whether with roommates or alone, you should calculate how much money you have to spend on food each week or each month. Weekly grocery trips are easier to maintain and manage. It also means that you won’t buy as much and won’t have to carry too many bags up to the dorm in one trip.
To find out how much money you need for groceries each week, you should first find out how much food you consume a week and plan meals accordingly. Once you know how much food you go through, you’ll be able to determine what you’ll need to buy on a weekly basis. If you have a roommate or several roommates, divide up the bill for grocery shopping and take turns. Sometimes it’s easier to create a pool for grocery funds and to only use money from that pool for your dorm’s groceries.
After figuring out your budget, you should maintain a weekly list. Using paper and pencil is easy to do, but you can also make a list on your smartphone. If you live with others, you can make a grocery list accessible to each roommate either on the fridge or electronically in a shared cloud on the Internet. Another useful grocery shopping method is to track the prices of food items so you know when a coupon or advertised sale is really a good deal and not just a ploy to make you think you’re saving money. Keep grocery receipts or write down the prices as you shop and write down prices of competitors’ brands. The more you know about price trends, the better deals you’ll find.
When you’re actually in the grocery store, focus only on the items that are on your list. It’s easy to get tempted by the items on display or at eye level. Grocery stores try to place regular priced items at the ends of aisles to make them appear to be on sale. These stores also place superfluous items in the front of the store and keep the necessities in the back and along the sides of the store. Produce, meat, and dairy are along the sides of the grocery store intentionally—you have to walk through the rest of the store containing displays and surplus items to get to these areas. With this in mind, stick to your list; if there is something you think you want to buy, write it down and wait until next week’s grocery shopping trip. If you still want it by the next time you go to the store, then you can decide if you really need it or not. This stops you from making an impulsive purchase and wasting money and food.
Another common mistake grocery shoppers make is to not check expiration dates. Although it seems unlikely that stores would sell expired food, it happens more often than most people think. Grocery stores will place food items that are about to expire within the next few days closest to you in the racks. They’ll place the freshest items in the back so check the dates, especially on dairy and bread products that are easily spoiled.
Once you master these basics, you can start learning more advanced grocery shopping techniques like couponing, using competitor’s ads to change prices at the register, and buying in bulk non-perishables. It’ll also be easier to make grocery shopping more fruitful once you become more aware of the foods you go through the fastest. But for now, these tips in this guide will get you through at least the first two years of college grocery shopping.
If you are financially-savvy student and are interested in learning new ways on how to manage your money, then you should go online to www.kanetix.ca to compare prices on various financial products, such as car insurance, travel insurance, credit cards and more. For students, reducing the amount you pay on your auto insurance rate could mean a lot. Kanetix can compare the insurance quotes offered by multiple insurance providers in just minutes. Do a comparison today and see how much you can save.