The desire for fast and effortless food in college can often get in the way of concerns for eating healthy or staying within a limited budget. It is important to learn how to shop for food to create meals that are healthy, nutritious and inexpensive.
Make a list and stick to it
Plan your meals before you shop
Make a list based on weekly store specials and sale items
Take cash so you don’t overspend
Don’t go to the grocery store hungry!
Shop at different stores
Spending time to go to multiple stores can save you a lot of money
Non-food items at grocery stores have a huge mark-up, and food items at non-grocery stores do too. Shop specific to your needs.
Splitting your grocery bill with your roommates can save you a lot of money.
Look high and low
The bigger food manufacturers pay more to get their food shown at eye level. You may find cheaper foods on the bottom shelves.
Work the edges! Most of the pre-packaged, processed foods are found in the center aisles of the store. Fresh foods like produce, dairy, and meats are found on the edges of the store. If you start your shopping trip by making a loop around the edge of the store, you may find that your cart is full of healthy foods before you get to shopping in the middle.
The more packaging, the less nutrition. In other words, an actual vegetable is a lot better for you than veggie crisps, which have added fats, sugars, and preservatives.
If you are going to buy packaged food, a simple way to assess its nutritional content is to look at the ingredients list. How many ingredients does it have? More than 15? That is a good sign it is extremely processed.
Be wary of labels that claim to be “lite” or “fat-free.” They can be deceptive. Often these foods have less fat but even MORE sugar.
Look out for hydrogenated oils—these are “trans fats” which have a host of negative health effects.
If you’re concerned about getting more fiber, make sure that ingredients are “whole grain.” Manufacturers often try to make their products seem healthier by including “multi-grain” on the packages—this is not the same as “whole grain!”