The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

7 ways to upgrade your grocery shopping list as a college student

Jenna McMahon
Photo Illustration / THE CHANNELS

As someone who cares about their health, what they eat and the money they spend, learning how to grocery shop for one person on a budget has been nothing short of challenging. 

After lots of trial and error, and many trips to Trader Joe’s, I can confidently say I have mastered the art of shopping for one. 


In college, saving money when grocery shopping is crucial. I always look for coupons I can use and make sure to sign up for club rewards. Vons, Albertsons, and Ralphs all have club rewards that can help you save a few extra dollars when buying the goods. In addition to using coupons and club rewards, look for items on sale when shopping. Create a budget for yourself of how much you are willing to spend on groceries and stick to it. 

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Leftovers are your friend

Eat and buy food with the intention to save some for leftovers. Many frozen foods or pre-packaged dinners often come in a serving size for two. When I buy meals for two, I eat one serving and save the leftovers to have for lunch or dinner the next day. This helps me save money and food.

Do not buy in bulk

I know having a Costco membership is super cool and I will admit, I love Costco as much as anyone does but having a Costco membership in college is useless. You do not need family sized servings of food. You will not be able to eat it fast enough before the food goes bad. Buying in bulk is not cost efficient nor is it sustainable. You will spend less and waste less when you buy in small quantities. 

Easy on the fresh produce

Do not buy too many fresh food ingredients like fruits, vegetables and raw meat. They often go bad before you can eat them, especially if you buy too much. When you do buy these foods, eat them before eating canned goods or frozen foods. Stock up on food that has a longer shelf life. 


Try to prioritize meals with protein. Protein helps keep you full for longer and will keep you filled with energy all day. In all of my meals, I try to have one food item that will supply me with a good source of protein. Eggs, chicken, sausage, tofu, ground beef, fish, lentils, peanuts and turkey are just a few examples of protein to include in your meals. 

Not too many snacks

Try to not buy too many snacks. This was my fatal flaw when I first started grocery shopping on my own. I would buy 3-4 bags of chips and I would be left with eating snacks to try and fill myself up. Eating snacks all the time is not nutritious nor will it satisfy a hungry belly. 

Meal Planning

Plan your meals ahead of time. Making a plan for what meals you are going to eat in a given week will make your trips to the grocery store so much easier. I like to keep a list on my phone of meals I enjoy eating and all the ingredients that I need to make theme. Having a grocery list is crucial when it comes to successful grocery shopping. 

All of these tips have helped me navigate the way I shop for food. I save money every month on food items and cook meals I actually enjoy eating. Take care of yourself and fuel your body with good food.

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