When trying to save money by coming up with a budget, it’s easy to overlook grocery shopping. Understanding how much money you can spend on specific items at the grocery store with allow students to take control of their finances and eating habits.
Many students assume cheap, unhealthy eating habits are to be expected, and even accepted, on a college budget. However, your college years are perhaps the time when you’ll benefit from a healthy diet the most. After all, eating a diet rich in nutrients is an easy way to stay clear-headed and focused, which is paramount to succeeding in an academic environment. Furthermore, healthy eating can be done on a budget.
Need proof? Below are some guidelines on how you can shop healthy for only $50 a week.
1. Fresh fruits and veggies – $20
Make the fresh produce section your first stop on every grocery store trip. Going to the produce section first is important as it ensures that first and foremost you have plenty of “good food” to get you through the week, regardless of how much you end up spending elsewhere. Additionally, by making the healthiest items on your list the top priority, you decrease the likelihood of grabbing impulse items during the remainder of your trip, especially if you keep track of your spending as you go.
- 1 bag of spinach
- 1 head of broccoli
- 1 pack of carrots
- 1 container of mushrooms
2. Bulk items – $10
Primarily comprised of bulk bins, this section could also include canned and packaged goods. Just be sure to check the sodium content of canned items and watch out for any suspicious-looking additives. Use common sense to sort out proper portions, as while it doesn’t hurt to have a pound or two of oats on hand, you probably don’t need two pounds of pecans for one week. Ideally, get just enough to last you until your next shopping trip. That way you don’t blow an unnecessary amount of your grocery budget on items you don’t need. That said, if there is a really great deal on a product you love, go ahead and get an over-sized amount. It will save you money in the long run.
- 1 bag of dried kidney beans
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 container of old-fashioned oats
- 2 lbs long grain rice
3. Protein – $10
The price of protein can vary greatly depending on what type of diet you follow. If you derive your protein from plant sources, expect to spend $5 or more, as you can supply your need cheaply with beans and seeds. For those who practice a more carnivorous diet, expect to spend closer to $10 on packages of lean meat. If needed, you could resort to canned tuna for some of your protein needs.
- 5 lbs chicken breast
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 package of seaweed
- 1 pack of tofu
- 1 can of chickpeas or re-fried beans
4. Dairy and Dairy Alternatives – $5
To get a proper amount of calcium in your diet, or simply to consume as a healthy treat, dairy products and alternatives are easy to overlook if you don’t make breakfast very often. Whether you drink cow’s milk or vegan options, you can fit calcium in your diet by adding these dairy products to soups, oatmeal, smoothies or simply by drinking them on their own whenever you need an energy boost.
- 4-pack of yogurt
- 1 gallon of cow’s milk, not skim
- 1 carton of almond, cashew, or coconut milk
5. Frozen Produce – $5, or however much you have left.
Because you’ll likely run out of fresh produce after the first three or four days, you’ll need some additional fruits and veggies to tide you over until your next shopping trip. This section is pretty self-explanatory. If you enjoy making protein shakes or smoothies, get some frozen fruit and add those into your blended drinks. Likewise, you can add frozen vegetables as a side dish to dinners or incorporated into rice and pasta dishes.
- 1 bag of frozen mixed berries
- 1 bag of frozen peas
- 1 package of assorted stir-fry veggies
By sticking to a basic budget for grocery shopping you will be able to save money and eat healthier. How would you design your grocery shopping budget? Let us know in the comment section below.