Groceries don?t have to break the bank

Megan Schiferl

Megan SchiferlJuice Editor

Though grocery shopping can be the bane of college life, you can save money with a few easy tips.

Ramen, hot dogs, easy mac … the list goes on and on. These stereotypical college foods may be cheap, but they are not usually the healthiest choice. Contrary to popular belief, you can both eat healthy and be economical with your grocery money.

There are many small hidden money drains in the average college student’s grocery list. Pop, for example, in addition to being unhealthy, is fairly expensive when looking at a per unit price comparison.

“Pop seems to be readily accessible, but students should try the drop in flavor packets for water. They are cheaper and more healthy,” said senior dietetics major Lisa Peterson. “If you are still looking for that caffeine kick, Crystal Light makes a variety of energy infused drop-ins that contain caffeine.”

Many times, money can be saved simply by using a few mind tricks. For example, if you are just shopping for yourself, you shouldn’t need a grocery cart. Use a basket. The lack of space and extra weight will keep you conscious of what is going home with you. This is especially useful if you make sure to shop with a list. If an item isn’t on your list, make sure it didn’t worm its way into your basket.

The stores in Brookings aren’t out to get you. According to Wal-mart’s website, they will price match like items. This means if you bring in a competitor’s coupon, you can get the advertised price even if that price is less than what Walmart will be charging.

The local Hy-Vee also does double-coupon Tuesdays. If you bring in a coupon for an item, you can use that coupon for double the discount. If a sale item is sold out, you can ask for a rain check from a cashier. This is basically works as a coupon for the sale item. When the item in question restocks, you get the sale price for it.

Many people don’t realize that you can double up and use a manufacturers coupon and a store sale coupon for the same item for double the discount.

Peterson also says to buy in bulk when possible. For example, repackaged salad mix is way more expensive than buying a whole head of lettuce and making your own. This idea can apply to a lot of pre-packaged foods.

“Trail mix (raisins, peanuts and M&Ms) is a great snack to munch on while studying, and is much cheaper if you make it yourself,” Peterson said.

Fruits and vegetables are an extremely important part of a healthy diet. Make sure to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables (apples and peaches are in season right now) and frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned. Frozen fruits and vegetables are extremely affordable and maintain their nutrient values without having the sodium content of canned items.

It takes some thought and planning, but having a plan of attack for grocery shopping can help save you a substantial amount of money in the long run.