I’m one of those people that would rather spend money on a spring break beach trip than on cereal. Weird, right? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably taking post-break measures right now so that you don’t starve and die.

I don’t have a meal plan, so I’m all about those grocery store deals. There’s a great Spoon article here on grocery shopping hacks for when you’re trying to save money. Here’s a few other tips to keep in mind:

Make a list

grocery shopping hacks

Photo by Maddie Lanier

That’s right. I made a list telling you to make a list. I’m not much of a planner to be honest but I have found that having an idea of what I would like to buy keeps me from impulse buying everything in the candy aisle. We all gotta grow up sometime, I guess.

Purchase prepackaged vegetables and fruits

grocery shopping hacks

Photo by Parsa Lotfi

Most of the time the unit price for loose pieces of fruits and vegetables is more than those already in bags. There are always exceptions to this rule though, so remember to compare unit prices before you make a purchase.

Trade booze and soda for water

grocery shopping hacks

Photo by Sheon Han

Ooooh I can hear you sharpening your pitchforks right now, but hey, when your liquid assets are running dry, consider wetting your whistle with good ol’ H2O instead of alcohol or empty calories. Water helps give you a better complexion anyway so you can save money and look amazing while doing it. Speaking about water….

Invest in a water filter instead of buying bottled water

grocery shopping hacks

Photo by Caroline Liu

Clearly, bottled water does not cost too much but investing in a good water filter (and water bottle) would save you lots when shopping for groceries in the long term. If you’re not particular about the taste of your water, seriously consider saving money this way.

Don’t be shy about taking those free condiments

grocery shopping hacks

Photo courtesy of Bill Selak

I’m thinking along the lines of taking those free packets of ketchup or ranch at supermarkets or even at the dining halls. We’re poor college students and it’s free so why not, right? However, please don’t grab 50 free packets and dump it all in your bag, (although I won’t judge you) but take what you need, moderation is the key in this suggestion.

Substitute meat with equivalent proteins

grocery shopping hacks

Photo by Parisa Soraya

I recently stumbled across an amazing recipe for veggie patties that uses chickpeas. Lentils are a pretty good protein substitute as well and there are some amazing lentil soup recipes out there. Here’s an example for curried lentil soup. Chickpeas and lentils cost much less than chicken, pork and beef and have saved me quite a bit in recent weeks.

Finally, think of grocery shopping as an adventure!

grocery shopping hacks

Photo by Taylor Michie

I was talking to my friend Sara Lepley, the Marketing Director for VT Spoon, and she said that she loves shopping for groceries because she looks at it as an adventure. Look up and down the aisles for the best deals. Eat something you’ve never had before. Try a new recipe. Turn the mundane into the exciting.

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