Skip to main content
Be Centsible

How can I get good deals when grocery shopping?

Grocery cart

College students know that when living on your own, there are a lot of necessities that come along with it. Some add up to be quite a lot of money that students do not have. Grocery shopping every week is something that many students struggle with when fitting things into their budget.

Quick tips on how to save money:


There is always an app to download for everything these days. Downloading the apps at stores that you shop at every week could be a good thing. After making a list of things that you need, comparing prices on big things to see which store sells it cheaper could be useful in saving some money. Things that are necessities can sometimes be expensive. When you need them, knowing which store sells it for the cheapest will be time-efficient and will help you budget.

Making a list and budget:

Making a list and budget coincide with each other. When making a list, it’s good to look around and think about what you already have. That way, you can see what you can make for the week with the food that is already there. The first couple of weeks may be harder than others and you won’t be sure how much to spend every week, but once the year gets going, it will get easier. Once you have gone shopping for food multiple times, you can find an average of the totals every week to try and stop yourself from spending more. Doing that will help you with self-control and saving money.

Using a smaller basket/cart:

For most people, going shopping when their hungry can lead to buying more food than expected which means more money. To prevent that, shopping with a small basket or smaller cart could help. When your shopping and your cart or basket is full, it will give you a sign that maybe you should stop shopping soon. Going into the store saying that you can’t put anything else in the cart is always a good way to help yourself from buying too many things too.

Buying in bulk and generic brands:

Buying in bulk does not always save you money but taking 20 seconds to pull out your calculator to see if buying in bulk or smaller amounts will eventually save you money in the future. There is no problem with buying extra if it will be used and it turns out to be a better investment.

Also, when buying food or other products, generic brands will most of the time be cheaper. It is always good to think about whether you really need something for the brand name just because you are used to it or not. Some times with food you will not even taste the difference and it could be saving you a lot of money if it is something that you buy weekly.

Written by Kana Tamai, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Fall 2019. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.