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See the Groceries tab for resources on grocery shopping safely.

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

assorted fruits on a shelf

By planning ahead and shopping smart, you can get the most out of your food budget.

Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Plan Ahead

Save a list of recipes to try

Keep a list of healthy, low-cost recipes that you'd like to try. Save it somewhere convenient, such as the notes app on your phone.

Healthy and affordable recipes

Take inventory

See what you already have in your pantry, freezer, and fridge before buying anything new. Plan your meals around these ingredients, using the oldest or perishable items first, to avoid food waste.

Plan your meals

Before heading to the store, plan out your meals for the week. Plan to make double or triple batches of things like soups, stir-fries and casseroles so that you have leftovers to last a few days.

Create a Grocery Game Plan: Weekly Calendar (pdf) 

Find deals

Check weekly sales flyers and online for sales and coupons. Discount and cash back apps can also help you save. Check to see if your grocery store has its own app.

Make a list and stick to it

Make a shopping list based on your meal plan and items on sale. Shopping with a list reduces the chance of making impulse buys. Organizing your list by food group can make shopping quick and easy.

Create a Grocery Game Plan: Grocery List (pdf)

Shop Smart

Be flexible

Use your list as a guide, but be willing to swap items on your list for unexpected sale items. For example, swap the red potato in your roasted vegetable recipe for the sweet potato that is on sale.

Look for what's in season

Most produce travels over 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Buying local produce can reduce cost and enviromental impact.

Seasonal Produce Guide

Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk eliminates packaging costs and allows you to buy only the amount that you need. Good foods to buy in bulk are oats, rice, dried beans, baking ingredients, nuts and seeds, and spices.

Look up and down for savings

Often the priciest items on the shelf are are placed at eye level. Check out the items on the top and bottom shelves.

Compare prices 

Compare and contrast the price per amount between brands to find the best deal. Often the generic brand (i.e. Market Pantry for Target, Great Value for Walmart) is cheaper and tastes just as good. 

Make your own snacks

Instead of buying high cost pre-packaged single-serve snacks, consider making your own. 

Hacking your Snacks


Prepare your Own Food

Preparing your own food is one of the best ways to cut back on food expenses. Learning to cook a few simple meals that you enjoy can go a long way.

Healthy and Affordable Recipes

Tips for Cooking in the Dorms