Having a kitchen in college is a double-edged sword. If the dining hall isn’t serving what you like, you’re free to cook it in the comfort of your own home.

However, owning a kitchen means you have to buy food to cook each week (not to mention cleaning up the pots, pans and plates after you’re done).

Food shopping can get pretty pricy and, as a normal college student, I am often strapped for cash. Here’s how to food shop without breaking your budget:

food shopping


1. Do not food shop on an empty stomach.

Your mother was right; you will leave the store with twice as much if you’ve got nothing in your tummy beforehand. And it’s usually not even food you’d normally eat.

True story: I once went shopping on an empty stomach and came back with four bags of food. One bag had three types of cheese in it. I am still trying to get rid of all that cheese.

2. If you have multiple locations where you can buy food, compare prices.

Do you really have to go to the supermarket to get that carton of milk or can you go to the drugstore and get the same carton for a lower price?

It also helps to check out what resources your college dining halls offers you; very often they have some sort of system included in your meal plan (whaddup, NYU Dining Dollars) that lets you buy stuff like milk, juice and Twizzlers with an allocated set of funds.

So it’s basically like you’re not even spending money, which is always something I gun for.

3. Buy in bulk.

From a very early age, I was taught not to fear the retail warehouse chain (thanks, Dad!). Go to Sam’s Club. Go to Costco. When you’re home, make your parents take you.

You will have beautiful, tasty brand name food for literally months on end and it is just glorious.

Note: these places require memberships to shop there. If you’re hesitant to pay for a membership, don’t fret. Just buy in bulk at your local supermarket…chances are, they’ve got some discounts for the purchase of two or more items…BoGo, anyone?

4. Force your friends to share with you.

I’m not saying make them feed you their leftovers 24/7. But if you’re trying to cook a nice pot of linguini and you don’t have any Parmesan cheese to season your pasta with, don’t panic and run out to the store right away. Ask around.

Someone’s gotta have what you’re looking for (and, if what you happen to be looking for is cheese, chances are it will be me.)

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