How to Save Money on Food

I’ve been in college for three years now, and during that time, I’ve had to learn how to navigate my food spending habits through trial and error. I’m very fortunate to have come from a family of home-cooked meals and groceries bought for me, so I never really had to think about money management until I got to college and started living more independently. If that sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place!

strawberry smoothie on glass jar
Photo by Element5 Digital on

The first thing I’m going to talk about is saving money on food delivery and social eating; then I’ll give you some of my tips for actual grocery shopping. If you’re a college student in a suburban area, you’re probably familiar with delivery apps such as Grubhub, Postmates, UberEats, and DoorDash. I personally visit these apps often, because I live in a great area where lots of amazing restaurants can deliver right to my door. There’s only so much dining hall food you can have before your tastebuds demand something a little more flavorful. 

I try to keep my delivery habits limited to one order a week, but this month in particular, I’m trying to avoid spending any money on delivery. It does get extremely expensive! One of the best pieces of advice I can offer to you is to do the same and try to limit the amount of food delivery you order in college. It can be tempting to go overboard, but those delivery fees are expensive and you’ll drain your wallet in no time.

However, there are ways to get around the excessive fees and cut your bills, especially if you’re a new member. Most delivery apps will offer a discount code, or some other incentive to first-time users of the service. Additionally, apps like UberEats and DoorDash will actually reward you for referring other people! Every time a friend signs up for DoorDash through me, I get a $10 credit added to my account, which is really helpful. Another helpful tip to build up delivery credit is to scour coupon websites like RetailMeNot and to see if there are any codes you can snatch up, especially  around Black Friday and the holiday season.

Now, moving into groceries. My number one tip for saving money on produce is to shop in season, because it’s generally cheaper and better for the environment. Shopping in season will also allow you to incorporate a variety of fruits and veggies into your diet, because each season brings a variety of delicious produce to try. I’ve published various produce guides before on my blog, along with recipes to try using what’s in season, so make sure you check those out!

Another helpful grocery tip is to buy the “ugly” produce, which is usually cheaper but exactly the same in nutritional values. Think things like ulta-ripe bananas, bruised fruits, and mutated-looking vegetables. Dented cans are also usually cheaper than the untouched variety, even though the contents are exactly the same. It’s little things like this that can make a difference in your spending habits, without having an impact on the quality of the food you eat. Try looking in the sale section or clearance section of your grocery store to see what “ugly” items are currently on sale.

Lastly, buying in bulk is a great way to utilize groceries. Yeah, you can get a twenty-pack of instant ramen for super cheap, but there’s other options, too. I love to buy granola/protein bars in bulk, such as Clif bars, along with things like fruit snacks, crackers, and yes, the occasional cup noodles. You don’t have to buy everything in bulk, but if you’re going to go through a particular snack quickly anyway, why not?

Anyway, those are my tips for saving money on food, especially for those of you who are also in college! I hope you find these ideas helpful, and if you have ideas of your own, drop them down below so I can read them. 

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