College Connect: Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Zack Newman

I relish food and am constantly enticed by the possibility of a smorgasbord of flavors. While the occasional splurge is ok, constructive habits can lead to long-term savings. This happens a few dollars at a time. I compiled a few of my favorite tricks below to save money at the food store.

The envelope trick: Budget out the amount of money you anticipate spending on “fun food” for the month. I usually stick with $20-30 a week. Put this cash into an actual envelope and take out the prescribed amount per week into your wallet. Whenever I go out, I take out most of my debit/credit cards to reduce the likelihood of making a spurious purchase. In my experience, the pain of spending money is considerably dulled by the swipe of a card. Physically handing over money makes me more conscious of what I’m spending.

Be intelligent about grocery purchases: Making a list and sticking to it will help narrow your focus when you shop. Frivolous purchases often happen when you’re unsure of what you need. There are many instances in which I made these kinds of buys with a rough idea of what I need. There have been instances where I bought items that I actually had plenty of at home because I did not have a list.

This advice also extends to bulk buys. It may be tempting to go all-out at Sam’s Club or Costco. However, research your eating habits. Does it keep pace with the expiration date? You will waste food and money if you don’t. It will make more sense to buy those items at a quicker pace if it means getting all of the value out of your money.

Also, embrace the grocery store branded food. I’ve rarely noticed a difference in taste and there’s a considerable differential in cost. Consumer Reports found there was an average savings of 25 percent in an examination of generic vs. store brand in 2012. (

Buy coffee packets and bring a reusable mug: I noticed that my need to fuel my caffeine consumption was poking a hole in my wallet. Instead of giving it up cold turkey, I always carry around a reusable mug and “coffee singles.” They’re not as tasty as their Starbucks counterparts, but get the job done.

Walmart carries a package with 36 cups of coffee for roughly $9. That’s about a quarter a cup, whereas the equivalent can run anywhere from $3 – 5 for a serving at Starbucks.

Bring lunch and snacks from home: I usually bring a sandwich and a fruit variation every day into work or class. Even though it can be cumbersome to carry it, it’s much more cost effective. Americans spent more than $20 a week, or $1,043 a year on eating lunch out, according to a 2015 study conducted by Visa.(

Plus, you’ll be able to effectively use all of the groceries you bought.

Zack Newman is a student at the University of Missouri.

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