College Budget Shopping

Ever since I went to college my definition of “grocery shopping” has changed a little. I loved going with my mom and dad, of course—sneaking things into the cart, or begging, “but mom, it’s on sale!”

But, now that I’m footing the bill, shopping goes a little differently. I’m frugal and picky. I need to make sure that whatever I’m buying meets a list of highly thought out requirements.

1)     It’s inexpensive (or on sale)

2)     It’s delicious (nutritious is a bonus, but not a requirement)

If an item doesn’t make the cut, it can’t go in the cart. Now, I thought that my college shopping techniques were subtle—There could be a million reasons why 90% of the cart was pasta or carbs. However, despite my attempts to conceal my budgetary grocery needs, clerks at checkout knew instantly that I was a student.

I was surprised at first. I wasn’t wearing my school shirt. I didn’t use my school I.D to pay. How did they know that I was a college student, on a college budget?

Let’s examine my cart:

Case of Soda

Macaroni and Cheese (at least 3 boxes)

Green Grapes

Instant Noodles


Gallon of Skim Milk

Pasta Sides

Bow Tie Noodles

Chips and Salsa

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised after all.

In between working, taking classes, and trying to enjoy summer, it’s hard to find time to shop and afford the kinds of groceries you really want. Yes, I would love steak, or tons of fresh produce. But, it’s easier and cheaper to buy cheaper and stick to one or ton items from the “fresh” section. Plus, did you know there are about a million ways to prepare bowtie pasta?

Although I’m embarrassed that the guy at the check out called me out on my Chef Boyardee raviolis and ramen noodles, it doesn’t change what I like to eat and shop for. Sure it’s not the healthiest or the most balanced—but those things can be altered. Ingredients can be added, side dishes can be prepared. However, grocery budgets don’t just appear. While you’re in college do the best to eat balanced meals, but also remember that you’re only young once. I’m pretty sure I can only get away with buying spaghettios for so much longer—I might as well take advantage of it while I can.




Amy Esselman

About Amy Esselman

Amy is a senior at La Salle University. She is majoring is Marketing and International Business. Amy is spending the summer interning in Salt Lake City. She loves music she can dance to, blogging, knitting, and collecting rings among other things.

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