One of the biggest challenges that I had to adjust to in college was food! Growing up with a stay at home mom, my siblings and I never had to worry about cooking or even grocery shopping. I would, however, accompany my mom to grocery stores and watch her as she prepared meals in the kitchen. Here are 10 secrets to prevent you from becoming a starving student and make your mom proud.
1. Coupons! Coupons! Coupons!
I can't stress this enough! When I was younger, my mom would buy carts full of food, but only pay a fraction of the actual cost. She planned her meals based on the foods she bought at a discount. Sundays were reserved for church and eating at restaurants. My mom used coupons at restaurants too. If you can't cook, utilize restaurant coupons to enjoy a home cooked meal. For ways to get coupons and additional money saving ideas, click the links below.
2. Plan Your Meals
I always find it easier to plan my meals before shopping for groceries. Planning your meals for the week helps you stay on track and on budget when grocery shopping. Create a shopping list and stick to it. Don't fret if you pick up a few extra items, just keep planning. Practice makes perfect. I promise you, a shopping list will help prevent you from buying unnecessary items. Note: Never, and I mean never ever; shop on an empty stomach; you will set yourself up for failure.
3. Store Brands are Your Friend
Having a big family to manage, my mom always bought store brand/generic products whenever she could. The generic products taste just the same as brand named products. The only difference is that it's cheaper. Give the store brand a try and if it doesn't work, buy the name brand item.
4. Use Everything
Don't waste any of the food you buy. You should try to make a meal with what you have in the house rather than going out to buy. Supercook has saved me tons of trips to the grocery store. You basically plug in what ingredients you have left in the house and it will give you ideas on what to make with the ingredients!
5. Freeze Everything
There are many food that you can freeze for later use. Freezing your food helps it last longer. If you are not going to use it right away, place it in a freezer bag and throw it in the freezer. Freezing meals is a great way to save time and money especially during those late night study sessions. Just think of it as take out; take out of your freezer and put it in the microwave or oven to eat later.
6. Be Alert When Checking Out Your Grocery
There have been many times when I have walked out of the grocery store with products that were incorrectly priced! If something rings up incorrectly or gets rung up twice, don't be afraid to speak up. Just ask the cashier to double check the price/item or take a quick picture of the sale price to save yourself time and money.
7. Check Out the Dollar Store
Dollar stores carry a variety of food items. Only have a few bucks for meals, head to the dollar store. You can always get your basic necessities like milk, bread, peanut butter and jelly. An added bonus is, you can also use coupons at some dollar stores. You may luck up get a few freebies using coupons.
8. Take Advantage of Your Student ID
Many supermarket chains offer a discount to students when you shop on specific days. You could receive a 5%-10% discount on your purchase. Ask the supermarkets you frequent about any discounts for students, military, or shopper's rewards.
9. Compare Prices
There are many stores that offer their store flyers online (Kroger, Target, Albertsons, Walmart) as well as in store. Some even offer digital coupons! Compare the prices in each of the flyers to find the best deal for your grocery shopping.
10. Use Rebates
On top of coupons, you can also earn your money back from rebates! Fetch Rewards gives you back points to be redeemed for cash and it only requires you to scan your receipt. If you have family members who aren't tech savvy and love to shop, ask for their receipts. Consider it an investment in your education. Get started by clicking on the code to get $2.00 for just signing up: R7P2R.