How to adult: grocery shopping on a budget

Grocery shopping image. Photo courtesy of Taste of Home.

Adulting is hard. While college promotes independence, it also presents challenges. Besides professional expectations and academic endeavors, college students are tasked with taxes, applying to jobs and the civic duty to vote. When students laugh and say, “I have no idea what I am doing,” they are not entirely joking. Have no fear, The Butler Collegian is here to help with a continuing series of informative “How to Adult” articles. 


As convenient as a meal plan is, it is no surprise that college students eventually tire of eating the same type of food every day and look for some variety. Eating out gets expensive, so the next option is grocery shopping, which can also get expensive if not done correctly. Luckily, the Collegian has some helpful tips to save your wallets.

Make a List: An important part of shopping is the planning stage. Without a plan, there is a tendency to buy whatever looks good at the grocery store, especially when you shop hungry. Having a list ensures you get everything you need and buy less impulse items. While making your list, consider which items will actually get eaten or used before your next shopping trip. Only write down the items you need, and stick to that list at the store.

“Planning ahead also helps to reduce food waste, which is better for our environment and something we all need to work on,” said Tara Rochford, Butler’s nutritional specialist.

Off-brands: As much as possible, buy store brand items instead of name brand. The items are basically the same, but the prices save money in the long run.

Hannah Sittloh, a first-year exploratory business major, is an advocate of store brand items due to the cheap cost.

“If I am ever unsure of a product, I compare the ingredients with the name brand product, and more often than not everything is the exact same,” Sittloh said. “Also, Meijer brand cinnamon rolls are much better than Pillsbury.”

There are also lower priced stores that sell quality off-brand items.

“Aldi is my favorite store when it comes to finding a bargain,” Rochford said. “Aldi carries produce along with many other nutritious and convenient foods.[However,] only buy organic when necessary. The Environmental Working Group creates a list each year to help us know which fruits and vegetables are more important to eat organic.”

Student Discounts, Coupons, and Reward Programs: Being a student comes with a lot of perks in the form of student discounts. A good website for an array of discounts is UniDays. It is a good idea to check the sale ad of a grocery store before shopping, as well as to compare with other grocery stores to get the best deals.

Also, almost every store has some sort of reward program free to sign up for. Becoming a member of those programs will lead to coupons and incentives. Use all the coupons and discounts available because a few dollars here and there add up quickly.

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