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February 26, 2020

5 Ways College Students Can Save on Groceries

5 Ways College Students Can Save on Groceries

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash

If you are a college student, there’s a good chance that money isn’t exactly abundant in your world. As a result, you might be looking for some ways to save money on groceries. After all, food is probably one of your biggest expenses (if not the biggest).

But don’t worry. There are lots of ways to save on groceries, and the tips in this post will help you do just that.

Look for Student Discounts

It is not uncommon for stores on or near college campuses to offer discounts to current college students. You will usually have to prove you are a student by having your college ID card. You will usually see some sort of signage to indicate the store offers student discounts, but you can always ask one of the employees.

These stores tend to offer a modest discount to students, such as 5% - but you’d be surprised by the breadth of stores that offer them. Again, if it is on or near your campus, be on the lookout for discounts.

...and Look for Bargain Bins

Are you a food perfectionist? If so, bargain bins might not be for you. But if you don’t have any issues with food that has minor imperfections, this can be a great way to save money.

And the thing about bargain bins is that there may not actually be anything wrong with the food you’ll find there. In many cases, it’s just a matter of stores trying to get rid of perishable items before they spoil - since even selling those items at a discount would be better than having to throw them out.

Other times, a box might be slightly smashed, but the food inside is fine. As long as you can get past those minor things, you can easily save some money here.


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Non-Perishables Can Save You Money

Everyone has heard about college students living exclusively on ramen or mac ‘n’ cheese. While such an extreme approach probably isn’t necessary, there is something to be said for non-perishable items. After all, if you’re a college student, refrigerator space might be limited.

That’s where non-perishable food items really come in handy. And non-perishables aren’t limited to ramen and mac ‘n’ cheese. It also includes any kind of boxed pasta, rice, beans (canned or dried), grains (such as quinoa), and many others.

Not only are these foods non-perishable, but they can be healthier than ramen while still being cheap. And, of course, they don’t need to be refrigerated, which is great if refrigerator space is limited.
...and You Can Cook Them in a Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot)

Slow cookers and Instant Pots are incredibly versatile, convenient, and easy to use for cheap meals; these are the benefits that everyone talks about. But there is also the benefit that they don’t take up very much space - again, something that could be important for college students.

The main drawback to slow cookers is that they are, well, slow - something the Instant Pot helps solve. Plus, the Instant Pot is also great for cooking those dried beans mentioned in the last section.

It’s also easy to find an endless number of recipes meant for either one of these nifty appliances, and nearly all of them are sure to save you money.

Use Overlapping Ingredients

Using overlapping ingredients is another great way to save money on groceries. We already touched on some candidates for what those might be above: rice, grains, and beans. Other foods like chicken, eggs, and vegetables, are also prime examples. These might be your “core” ingredients.

The reason this approach works so well is because there are hundreds, if not thousands of recipes built around them, making it much easier to plan your weeks and what you want to cook.

Bob Haegele

Bob Haegele is a freelance personal finance writer.  He runs The Frugal Fellow, a blog that helps people with their student loans in addition to saving money and budgeting.  You can follow him on Twitter @Thefellowfrugal.

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