Now, that I’m back on campus for the upcoming semester I’m determined to make 2018 a year of working smarter. So, I decided to go grocery shopping literally the day I touched down in DC. Kaylen and I headed out to Target to pick up a few things to start our semester off right. I thought grocery shopping would be a great way to keep me from spending money on food and a great way to keep me out of the cold. Also yay adulting! I put together a list of tips for people wanting a little help shopping themselves. The first time(s) you go shopping for just yourself might be a little confusing because 1. you might not go grocery shopping with your parents or 2. you do, but you don’t pay attention. Whether you don’t know what to do when you go shopping for food or you just want to see if there’s a way to improve your already established grocery shopping routine, this post is for you!
1. Make A List
When you decide to go grocery shopping, make a list to start the process. You can organize it by section or just write out everything you need, it’s your choice. Be sure to just include what you want. Make a long thorough list; put stars next to your must-haves and dots by “maybe” items that you’re okay with not having. This comes in handy when you check if everything in your list will fit within your budget.
2. Set A Budget
It is extremely vital to set a budget for when you go grocery shopping. You know that you shouldn’t spend all of your income/allowance because you need to save, pay bills, etc. Try to not to make the budget toooo huge if you still have a meal plan. However, if you don’t have a meal plan and/or have certain dietary restrictions that mean you need to go grocery shopping, then you should definitely make sure you have at least enough food to last until you can go shopping again. Without the budget, you might go a little crazy
3. Don’t Go Shopping While Hungry
You need to make sure that you go grocery shopping while you’re in the right state of mind so that you’re not just grabbing things off the shelf because it looks good at the moment. Go shopping on a full stomach and stick to your list, sis.
4. Think Long Term
I know you said that you were going to be healthy this year but if you do end up buying certain foods, make sure you’re actually going to eat them. If you don’t end up eating it, then it will have been a waste of your time, money, and energy. Only get items that you know you’ll for sure eat.
5. Bring Coupons
I admire Extreme Couponing so much and I really love that lifestyle so I’m going to make an effort to collect as many coupons as I can before going grocery shopping. You should definitely take the time before your trip to sit down and gather coupons before heading out to the store. This is probably a great thing to do after making your list and settling on a budget. If you’re like me and shop at Target, download their app for opportunities to save.
6. At Least Try to Be Healthy
Make sure to pick up some fruit and vegetables that you love. Even though I’m bound to buy Hot Pockets and other not-so-healthy microwavable items, I always try to make sure I get Green Giant’s frozen broccoli because it’s literally my favorite and I need to make sure I’m eating my veggies every day. Throw some fruit in your cart and switch out items for their wheat counterparts and a few healthy snacks. The smallest changes in what you put into your body could help you reach some of your goals in a major way.
7. Choose a Practical Place
When I first started going grocery shopping for myself, I would go to Giant. For those of you that don’t know, Giant is a grocery store that specifically for groceries. However, now I usually shop at Target because things are a little less expensive and the Target app offers so many discounts and it really helps out with my budget. However, you should pick what works best for you. Tip: Giant offers 5% off for Howard University students and faculty.
8. Don’t Forget About Your Meal Plan
If you still have a meal plan then make sure you keep that in mind while shopping. For example, I don’t buy sunflower seeds at Target when I can get them from my school’s “c-store” with my dining dollars for the semester. I also don’t worry about buying breakfast foods because I know that I’m more likely to hit the cafe in the morning before class for breakfast and last-minute studying. Know that you don’t need to get everything because you might be out for lunch or dinner. The food in your room should be for weekends, when the cafe closed before you could eat, for dinner after late classes, or days where you know you’re not leaving the building but don’t want to spend on Postmates or UberEats. The meal plan is paid for so you might as well use it.
9. Not Buying Name Brands Doesn’t Mean It’s the End of the World
Refrain from the urge to get all of the name brands. Generic brands are usually less expensive and almost always just as good as the name brand version. Target’s brand, Market Pantry, is always more likely to be on sale than name brand items btw! A Tumblr post I read once mentioned that you should never buy generic for the following items: peanut butter, ketchup, liquid NyQuil, and Chips Ahoy!
Those are my tips for grocery shopping while you’re still in college! Do you have any tips that I should’ve included? If so, drop them in the comments below!