The Poor College Student Grocery List

As a college student, I was always looking to lower my expenses. I started by finding a cheap off-campus apartment that I shared with two roommates. The apartment was close enough to campus that I could avoid paying for parking and transportation. Within my living costs, the second-largest item in my budget, right after rent, was food.

Food on campus is overpriced, and the selection is limited. As a college student, you should consider buying groceries and cooking at least two meals a day. It will not only save you money, but it will keep you healthy and focused. Life in college is hectic, and it can lead to unhealthy habits. When you make your meals, you know what ingredients you are consuming. Also, snacking through a long day of classes and projects will help you stay motivated and continue to function. If you do not bring your own food, you will end up buying food on-campus. It may not seem like a significant expense on a short term basis, but it adds up.

Sticking to a grocery list and prepping meals helped me cut living costs and stay relatively healthy. Now that I am a recent college grad, I would like to share what I called my Poor College Student Grocery List. I always tried to buy items that were not terribly unhealthy, but my main focus was to save money. The list below highlights an assortment of items. However, it does not list complete meals (only some ideas). Depending on your personal taste, I would recommend building a weekly meal schedule. A meal plan won’t only keep you organized but will help you minimize food waste and ultimately reduce costs even further.

Let the savings begin with this poor college student grocery list:

Grocery List

  • Breakfast
    • Bagels or regular bread
    • Sandwich meat
    • Eggs
    • Milk
    • Cereal
    • Granola
    • Frozen fruit
    • Pancake/ Waffle mix
    • Syrup
  • Snacks
    • Seasonal fruits
    • Peanut butter and jelly
    • Celery
    • Carrots
    • Tea and coffee
    • Popcorn
  • Lunch/Dinner
    • Rice
    • Potatoes
    • Frozen veggie bags (easy prep in the microwave)
    • Tortillas or wraps
    • Frozen pizza
    • Pasta and pasta sauce
    • Rotisserie chicken
    • Frozen meat: Chicken legs, tights, legs
  • Basic cooking ingredients
    • Salt and pepper
    • Spices
    • Seasonings
    • Oil
    • Salad dressing
    • Sugar
    • Butter
    • Non-stick spray

Meal Ideas

  • Breakfast
    • Breakfast sandwiches
    • Cereal and Milk
    • Eggs in any form: this microwave egg maker is perfect for days you are running late
    • Smoothie
  • Snacks
    • Celery and carrot sticks plus ranch (or other dressing)
    • PB&J sandwich
    • Freshly popped popcorn: locate for a microwave on-campus and enjoy one of the easiest and cheapest snacks
  • Lunch / Dinner
    • Chicken and rice with the spices of your choice
    • Rotisserie chicken sandwiches: sometimes it is cheaper to buy a cooked chicken rather than cooking it yourself
    • Pasta and marinara or alfredo or pesto: add some veggies to upgrade your meal
    • Chicken of veggie wraps
Make your own meal plan. Start with this poor college student grocery list.

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