by Linh Ho, HSRC Intern
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and then walked out 30 minutes later, with over $50 now missing from your bank account and only one bag of groceries to show for it? How does that even happen?
Grocery stores can be expensive, and even the little things can really start to add up. As college students here in Beaver Nation, many of us are already struggling to pay student bills and pay the crazy high rent that Corvallis is becoming notable for, so having enough money to pay for groceries as well can be stressful.
Fear not! There are plenty of ways to ensure that you won’t have to choose between paying for rent or paying for next week’s food.
Before the Store…
- Check to see what’s in your pantry before shopping.
- Skim the weekly grocery ads and plan your meals around what’s on sale. Try using multiple sale ingredients for multiple meals!
- Coupons are our friends! Don’t fight me on this…
- Make a list of exactly what items you need and strictly stick to it.
In the Store…
- Carry cash and only use what you have on hand.
- Use a basket instead of a cart. This will deter you from grabbing unneeded items that will make your basket heavier and harder to carry.
- Don’t be afraid of generic store brand versions — more often than not, they are exactly the same as the name-brand, and cheaper!
- Look around or ask about Manager’s Specials, especially for meat or bakery items. These are items that are close to expiring and marked down significantly.
- Don’t overlook canned fruits and vegetables! They have long shelf lives and can be very versatile and a quick healthy addition to a meal.
- Ramen can be an awesome meal if you just get creative!
- Skip pre-washed salads and pre-sliced fruits or cheeses — you can just do it yourself and save some money!
- Buy seasonal produce. Produce that is in-season is generally much cheaper.
- Shop from the bulk food bins. This way you’re only paying for what you need, and there will be less food to be wasted! WinCo has a great and affordable bulk foods section, especially for spices and grains.
- Bring your own reusable grocery bags. Corvallis banned plastic bags in 2012, and you’ll get charged for each paper bag you use at the grocery stores now. Just bring your own and maybe even get a discount for each one you bring at certain stores.
- Consider signing up to be a member at your favorite grocery store. Lots of stores have special pricing for their members, and point systems that you can trade in for free stuff or discounts — and it’s usually free!
- If possible, a more plant-based diet might be a good way to save money, since meat can be especially expensive. Try starting out with one meat-free meal a day!
- If there are sales on certain fresh food items, try stocking up and freezing what you can’t eat right away.
- Most meat, poultry, and seafood freeze well.
- You can also freeze fruits before they go bad, or freeze fruits that might not always be in season. You can use them for smoothies, oatmeal, and more!
- Frozen vegetables are great to have on hand for an easy side dish or quick stir-fry.
- You can also freeze breads, soups and broths, sauces, herbs, and even cheese! The list goes on….!
You might also be eligible to utilize the HSRC Food Pantry during one of our events each month and pick up some items that might already be on your shopping list.
SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as food stamps) is also a great way to help alleviate some strain on groceries each month. Consider applying!