Groceries on a Budget: Tips for Students, from Students

By Kolbe Gelbaugh

Managing time and responsibilities can be a difficult thing to navigate as a young adult—add the stress of college courses and you may just have a recipe for disaster.

There is one responsibility that’s vital to a successful academic career—it’s health.

Your brain and your body need nutrients but with the budget of a full-time student, healthy grocery shopping can be challenging.

“I’m vegan so I eat a lot of fresh produce. I buy it from the local farmer’s market though because they have a one-dollar table in the back—great for freezing produce for smoothies,” said Sabrina, 20.

Fruits and vegetables contribute to a balanced diet which can look a little different for every preference.  

“I would say I eat chicken and pasta, and fruits. I try to balance grocery spending with saving money to eat out too,” said Anna, 19.

Dishes with pasta and veggies are a great go-to cheap dish, and when that gets boring you can always spice it up your own way.

“I love making a fresh tomato-vegetable sauce to go on pasta—it’s healthier and still cheap. Also, fun fact: Target sells premade salads for only $2.99 and it’s technically two bags for one,” said Annie, 24.

The different grocers in town have different things to offer.

“Whole rotisserie chickens are cheap easy meals and generally under $10 at Publix, Walmart, etc.,” said Katie, 21.

If you’d rather go for smaller, more frequent intakes of food rather than full meals, the options are still there. Some students expressed that sandwiches and snacks on-the-go are what keep them fueled more than anything.

“I go to Aldi for snacks to keep in my dorm room, you’ll save more at Aldi than anywhere in town,” said Hailey, 20.

Now that you have an idea of what to eat and where to get it, it’s now a matter of keeping your diet colorful and exciting. There’s a few ways to do that…

“I’m a big believer that you can make anything taste good with the right seasoning, so anything from rice to potatoes, and veggies—it’s all cheap, healthy and filling,” said Jack, 22.

One other student had an idea of how to spice up your white rice.

“Cook rice with coconut milk instead of water—it’s so good with black beans too,” said Lane, 20.

Groceries on a college budget boil down to not just what to get—but where to get it too and with a little creativity, simple yet substantial foods can fit any taste/diet preference.  

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