Sunday, February 20, 2011

Grocery Shopping for the Poor College Kids

Ten months ago, in April 2010, my boyfriend and I started renting a tiny one-bedroom house.  And believe me, it's been a blast!  But a stressful blast.  Money has been extremely tight, and we rarely have money to go out, but at least we've got a house--which is something the majority of our friends can't say.  I would have to say that the most stressful part of living on my own is being responsible for the grocery shopping of two people on a budget of about $20 a week.  And although I'd love being able to eat fresh food every day, we just can't afford it.  But believe me, living on a budget is doable and although it's not the best, you can deal with it.  So here are 3 tips for grocery shopping on a budget along with my typical grocery list:

  1. Buy Items on Sale--Check to see what items that particular grocery store has on sale (they normally have a sales ad located close to the door) and buy from the list.  Stores like Martin's, Food Lion, etc. also normally have "10 for $10" sales each week.  It's always a good idea to stock up on those items.
  2. Buy the Generic Brand--The majority of grocery stores carry their own generic brand for a fraction of the price you'd pay for the name brand.  And honestly, the generic almost always tastes as good as the name brand.
  3. Shop at Different Stores--I realize that people are busy and don't have time to shop at a bazillion different stores, but I normally hit up two to three grocery stores and am finished by the end of the third.  The grocery store I buy meat at has wonderfully low prices on meat, but all the other items on my list are insanely expensive so I just head to another place.  Believe it or not, the Dollar Tree offers a wide variety of yummy items (bread, eggs, pasta, etc.) and the beauty of it is that everything is a dollar!
Grocery List:
  • milk - $3.00 (I prefer skim, but my boyfriend won't drink anything but whole)
  • 4 packages of mac and cheese - $2.00 (A great way to dress up mac and cheese is to add half a cup of your favorite shredded cheese after you've made it, and it gives it a home-made taste)
  • 2-3 packets of instant mashed potatoes - $2.00-$3.00 (I was a skeptic until I tried these.  Now, I buy them religiously because they not only taste just like the real thing but they also only take about 5 minutes to make and come in a variety of different flavors)
  • 12 Pack of Ramen - $2.00 (Perfect for quick lunches or when I have friends over and don't feel like making food)
  • Sharp Shredded Cheddar Cheese - $2.50 (I use this for almost everything I make because I'm addicted to the taste of cheese--and it's just so versatile)
  • Loaf of bread - $1.00 (I love anything carb related, and bread can be eaten with just about anything)
  • Chicken Patties - $5.00 (This pack comes with about 16 already made chicken patties and they are actually really yummy.  I buy them at Martin's, but most other grocery stores carry packs of chicken patties for around this same price)
  • Eggs - $1.00 (Full of protein and perfect for the weekends when I've actually got the time to eat breakfast)
Total: $18.50-$19.50
Note that this list doesn't include the prices of items I only need to buy once a month like ketchup, mayo, butter, etc.  
Do you have any other tips for grocery shopping on a budget or cheap items that are also super yummy?

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