Grocery shopping as a college student can be overwhelming to say the least. There’s a lot of different products and and lot of people and it can all just become… a lot. BUT, the only tip to successfully master the grocery store is to have the perfect college grocery list.
This can be anything from a cute printable to a scrap of paper. Whatever you got is perfect as long as you have a solid list when you go to the grocery store!
Note: There are affiliate links included in this article. Check out my disclosure policy for any questions.
why you need a grocery list
I keep saying grocery list this and grocery list that. Before I get any further, lemme tell you EXACTLY why you need a college grocery list to survive the grocery store.
Having a list is like having a game plan: you know exactly what you need. There are no guessing games about whether or not your food went bad or if you need something for a recipe.
Everything you need should be on your list.
With a solid college grocery list, you are going to make sure you buy everything that you need for the week and prevent yourself from running back to the store in a few days. PLUS, you are also going to keep yourself from buying items that you either already have or don’t need.
how much you should spend on groceries each week
With a college grocery list comes a college grocery budget. Whether you are paying for groceries on your own or have help from your family, you should start learning how to budget NOW so you know for the future.
As far as a budget, you are going to hear a million numbers from a million different people. Some will tell you a number for a month and some work by the week.
I am NOT going to give you a specific number for a reason. Because quite honestly, a grocery budget is going to depend on who you are and where you are.
For example, certain dietary restrictions and preferences may cause your groceries to cost more. Or, certain areas only have specific stores which may have higher prices.
Clearly, your budget is going to be unique to YOU. So, how do you figure out the perfect number?
Go to the grocery store for the first time with no budget in mind. Be conscious of what you are buying, but don’t limit yourself. For your first trip, you have to stock up on all the essentials that you otherwise don’t need to buy every week, so expect it to cost more.
After that first week, go to the store as you normally would and keep track of your receipts. After about 3 weeks, compare the costs and figure out a ballpark estimate that you want to spend on groceries.
And there you go… you’ve got yourself a grocery budget!
how to make a shopping list
Keep a running list
Other than your first shopping trip, each week, the items on your list might vary a little week to week. Depending on the recipes you are making and your meal plan, the foods you need will be different.
To keep track of everything you need, keep a running college grocery list throughout the week as you notice things are running low. That way, you won’t forget anything!
Reference your meal plan
If you are meal planning (which you totally should be!!), use this as your guide to grocery shopping.
With a meal plan, you know exactly what foods you are going to be eating… so that’s what you should be buying at the grocery store.
Organize by section of the store
If you keep a running grocery list on your phone, organize everything by the section of the store. Maybe you have a meat section and a produce section… whatever works for you. That way, actually doing the shopping is so much easier.
If you keep a paper grocery list, I like to rewrite it before I go shopping so everything is organized by section.
Here’s some basic before, during, and after shopping tips that are going to help you out like crazy!!
- make a solid list
- look for coupons
- decide on a budget
- don’t shop hungry
- stick to your list
- compare prices of brands
- freeze whatever necessary
- neatly put everything in its places
- clean out the fridge
College grocery list essentials
Now that we got all that out of the way, here’s a list of all the essentials you should have stocked in your college kitchen. I organized everything into three categories: fridge, freezer, and pantry.
Just to preface this list, some of these foods are going to depend on your diet, preferences, and locations, so make sure to adjust as needed!
- fruits (apples, bananas, whatever is in season)
- vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, etc.)
- condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
- deli meats (turkey, ham, etc.)
- rotisserie chicken
- frozen fruits
- frozen vegetables
- pre-made meals
- olive oil
- vegetable oil
- peanut butter
- baking basics (baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cocoa powder)
- trail mix/nuts/raisins
- spices (garlic powder, onion powder, Italian mix, paprika, etc.)
If you want even more grocery store tips, I’ve got the perfect article for you: My Best Grocery Shopping Tips for New Shoppers!