The Art of Creating a College Grocery List

apple and pbFor many of us, grocery shopping is one of those dreaded errands that we have to run. Whether you live on campus with just a small refrigerator and microwave or off campus with a full kitchen, it is important to stay stocked with healthy foods that can battle the mid-day stomach grumbles or the late-night study break munchies.

Many college students find it hard to eat healthy as they are learning to live on a budget. Some of the cheapest and most convenient foods are the unhealthiest as well, such as fast food, call-in pizza, and junky grocery store snacks to name a few.Without parents around to ensure we are eating well-balanced meals throughout the day, it can be very tempting to resort to some of these foods that can eventually lead to the “Freshman 15.” However with a little pre-planning, you can craft a grocery list that is cost-efficient, nutritious, and appealing to your taste buds. Here are a few tips to get you into the store and out in no time while providing value for your money and healthy food for your tummy:

  1. Make a list BEFORE you get to the store…and stick to it!

Knowing what you need to buy will not only move you through the store more quickly, it will prevent you from purchasing random odds and ends that can quickly escalate the final bill.

  1. Create a list that will keep most of your shopping on the perimeter of the store.

Have you noticed that the outside aisles of most grocery stores contain produce, meats, and dairy? Hence, some the freshest and healthiest foods are located in these areas with the exception of grains, nuts, and a few other necessary items to maintain a wholesome diet.

  1. Avoid going to the store when you are hungry.

This is an easy way to throw you off track from making healthy and nutritious purchases, and can easily tempt you to toss in extra items that you may not really need.

  1. Buy the off brand or whatever brand is on sale.

Unless you have a taste preference for certain items, there is typically nothing better about buying brand-name products versus generic items.

  1. Do not buy more produce and other perishable products than you can eat before it expires.

Purchase produce with caution, as most of it is perishable and will only last from a few days, like berries or bananas, to a few weeks, such as apples and oranges, depending on the item. For example, only buy three bananas for the week instead of the whole bunch.

  1. Make sure to include the following:
  • Quick foods that can be taken on the go such as granola bars, yogurt, cheese sticks, cereal and/or trail mix to put in a Ziploc bag, and fresh fruit…you never know when you’ll need to grab something and go!
  • Comfort foods that are easy to prepare for a snack or small meal such as canned soup or instant oatmeal…because who doesn’t crave warm comfort food every now and then?
  • Nonperishable snacks that won’t expire for a while such as baked chips, whole-wheat crackers, nuts and/or nut butters, and popcorn…so you never find yourself without something to eat.
  • Fresh foods that will last longer than a few days such as milk, carrots, bananas, hummus, salsa, yogurt, and other tasty fruits and vegetables…treat yourself with some healthy items that may not last very long but will do your body good.
  • Small amounts of seasonings to spruce things up such as light salad dressings, hot sauce, salt, pepper, cinnamon, herb blends, and various other condiments…keeping a few things on hand that can add flavor or switch up the taste of a usually boring food is a simple and inexpensive way to mix things up.

Happy shopping!

Photo Credit: FBM

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