Your daughter is so ready to move into her dorm or apartment and begin college life! She has her bedding, room décor, school supplies, clothes, shoes, and a ton of self-confidence. This is the time she’s been waiting for, preparing for. And now you, mom, have to let her spread her wings! But, there’s perhaps one more thing you could advise her on…how to shop for groceries on a budget! Here are seven tips that may be useful.
1. Make a list! Use the notes app on a smartphone or download a free shopping list app such as Grocery Gadget, Pantry Check, or one of many other free options. Grocery stores often have apps from which you can prepare a list directly coordinated with the sale flyer. Grocery store websites offer this option, too.
2. Learn to read shelf tags. These will often list the “price per” unit, such as price per ounce or per serving. Getting into this habit will help you learn to be more discerning instead of just always buying the same brand, and stretching your buck the furthest.
3. Buy fresh as much as possible. While it may be difficult to store cold items, there are plenty of fresh fruits that don’t require refrigeration. Plus, there are healthier snack options such as dried fruits, various nuts, and nut mixes along the perimeter of the store usually in or near the produce area.
4. Look for buy one, get one free items. Some stores will sell these at ½ price for one item, so don’t be afraid to ask!
5. Coupons! Don’t have time to cut coupons? There are many apps such as Krazy Coupon Lady, Flipp, The Coupon App, and Smart Source that make using coupons a breeze. Plus, many grocery store chains have apps that include digital coupons that are accessed by putting in your cell phone number at the grocery store checkout. (Don’t miss 3 Easy Apps and Tricks to Save Money)
6. Avoid high fat and high sodium snacks and sugary sodas and juices. These may be less expensive, but will quickly add to the potential of the dreaded “freshman fifteen.” Frozen meals are cheap, but often have a lot of sodium as well, so buy these sparingly!
7. Buy non-grocery items at discount stores. Laundry detergent and cleaning supplies can often be more expensive at grocery stores.
Since leaving my house, my daughters have told me “adulting is hard.” I can’t necessarily disagree with that, but as parents we can at least make some chores less daunting with a little time and preparation.
One of my best memories from my girls’ college years is going to the grocery store with them and teaching them these very same tips. It really can be fun helping your kid get ready for college!
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