Last Updated on July 15, 2022 by Jessica Reid
College Student Grocery List
I was so excited the day I became a college student, but I soon realized that I would have to take responsibility for buying my own groceries. I learned very early on that having a grocery list is super important. It prevents you from buying unnecessary items, exceeding your budget, buying things you already have, and forgetting to buy things you need.
It would be best to organize your grocery list into sections to avoid running up and down the store instead of starting at one end and working your way through to the other. These sections worked wonders for me; frozen, non-frozen, refrigerator, and snack items. A student’s grocery list should include the following 32 items:
- Frozen Vegetables
- Tortillas/Pita Bread/Wraps/Flatbread/English Muffins
- Chicken Breast
- Heat & Eat Meals
- Fresh Fruit
- Canned Beans
- Canned Fish
- Peanut Butter & Jelly
- Coffee & Tea
- Cheese Sticks
- Trail Mix
- Veggie Chips
- And more…
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This post is about everything that should be on a college student’s grocery list.
1. Frozen Vegetables
I love fresh veggies, but unfortunately, when you are a college student, having too many fresh vegetables could cause them to go to waste and waste your money. Fresh veggies don’t have a very long shelf-life, and if you’re a busy student, buying frozen vegetables might be a better option. There are lovely frozen vegetable medleys, stir-fry veggies, peas, carrots, etc.
2. Tortillas/Pita Bread/Wraps/Flatbread/English Muffins
All these items last very long in a freezer and thaw very fast, and you can make so many different recipes. You need to prepare a filling that you like, such as cheese, chicken strips, chicken mayo, beef strips, salsa, curry, and anything else that gets your tastebuds all tingly.
3. Chicken Breast
High-protein foods are not a luxury in college; they’re a necessity! It would help if you had all the strength you could get to keep up with your busy college life, and that is why chicken breasts should be near the top of your list.
Chicken breast is so quick to make, and there are hundreds of delicious and healthy meals you can prepare with chicken breasts. I want to share my favorite chicken breast recipe list, 26 Best Chicken Breast Recipes, from Food Network.
Apart from chicken, other types of meat should be on your grocery list, including burger patties, turkey breast, sausage, minced meat, fish, etc. These are fantastic sources of protein and iron, but some of them should rather be prepared on days that you have a bit of free time.
5. Heat-&-Eat Meals
College students are always on the go, and sometimes you do not have time to cook a meal that takes too long. Frozen meals or meals that are quick to prepare should definitely be on a college student’s grocery list.
These can include; Crumbed Hake Fillets, Chicken Schnitzels, Frozen Lasagna, Unbaked Pies (Large, regular, or cocktail), Frozen Mac n Cheese, Frozen Bolognaise, Crumbed Fish Cakes, Fish Fingers, and Chicken Nuggets.
6. Milk/Almond Milk/Coconut Milk
Whichever milk you prefer, having it in your refrigerator is essential because you can use it for so many things; in your cereal, drink, sauces, baking, tea, and coffee, making a custard, etc. Unless you are lactose intolerant, milk should definitely be on your student grocery list!
7. Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit is one of our main sources of essential vitamins and minerals and helps our minds stay focused and build our immune system. It is important always to have fruit in your refrigerator but buy fruit according to how much of it you eat in a week. If you purchase too much, you might not even eat it all, and they end up going bad, and you end up wasting money.
Drinking yogurt, plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, sweet and fruity yogurt, whatever the type of yogurt it is, always make sure to have it! This is a great grab-and-go item for when you don’t have time to stop. It is also a great breakfast ingredient with muesli or instant oats.
I always make sure to add eggs to my student grocery list because it is easy to prepare, there are various ways to prepare them (boiled, fried, in omelets, poached, or scrambled), and there are hundreds of wonderful recipes you can make. Eggs are also an essential ingredient when you are baking. The bottom line is that; ALWAYS add eggs to the list, lol!
10. Canned Baked Beans
Canned beans are not only survival food during an apocalypse; they are also a student must-have survival item! They contain essential amino acids and protein, and they are very easy on your budget. I always keep a few tins in my pantry, and they come to my rescue when my budget is depleted.
11. Canned Fish
Like canned beans, canned fish is another great item to add to your grocery list. These can include tuna, pilchards, sardines, salmon, middle cut, etc. They are all wonderful sources of omega oils and calcium. You can do so much with tinned fish; fishcakes, tuna mayo, creamy tuna pasta, etc. They have a very long shelf-life.
12. Peanut Butter and Jelly
Mmm, peanut butter and jelly. You do not have to be a college student to add it to your grocery list; young or old, everybody loves peanut butter and jelly!
I label peanut butter and jelly another “must-have” on every student’s grocery list. It is so easy to prepare a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and it is packed with all the strength and goodness a college student needs for a busy day.
Oatmeal is probably one of the best items to add to your grocery list because it is very healthy, gives you great energy to start your day, keeps you fuller for longer, and you can add many things to oats to make it a bit more interesting. My favorite versions include oats and fresh berries, caramel or chocolate chips, peanut butter, nuts, honey, cinnamon, etc.
14. Coffee & Tea
Coffee and tea do not even need an introduction because ALL students drink tea and LOTS of coffee to get them through those long study hours. Making your coffee at home is also much cheaper than if you were to go to Starbucks every day to get your morning fix. I recommend getting yourself an insulated travel mug with you in the morning and filling it up during the day.
Everyone knows that eating a balanced breakfast is very important, even more so for a college student! There are many nutritionally balanced kinds of cereal that you can add to your grocery lists, like Cornflakes, Rice Crispies, Weetbix, and All-Bran Flakes, but try to stay away from anything sugar-coated.
16. Cheese Sticks
Cheese sticks are delicious and a healthier baked snack than potato chips or cookies. If you are on the run and you know that you won’t be able to eat for a while, grab two or three cheese sticks to get you through until your next meal.
17. Trail Mix
Trail mix has been on my grocery list since I started college. It is the perfect combination of savory and sweet flavors and soft and firm textures, and it is a slow energy release snack that keeps you energized for longer and helps you stay focused. It is one of the best on-the-go snacks you can add to your list, and best of all, it is healthy!
18. Veggie Chips
Instead of potato chips, consider a healthier option such as okra, kale, sweet potato, or kale chips. They taste really good, and they have a lot more nutritional value. They also keep you fuller for longer, and you can coat them with any spice you prefer
19. Dried Fruit
Snacking on dried fruit helps keep up your energy levels between meals, and as it has a longer shelf-life than fresh fruit, you can buy a lot at once and divide them into ideal-size snack portions.
20. Frozen Pizza/Pizza Bases
I don’t know if it is from seeing it in movies or on TV, but pizza seems like the perfect food to eat during those late-night study sessions. Having prepared frozen pizza or plain pizza bases in your freezer is a great item to add to your grocery list. They are super easy to prepare, and best of all, there won’t be a lot of dirty dishes to clean.
Nuts are one of the healthiest items you can buy because they contain many essential nutrients. There are all kinds of nuts to choose from; cashews, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, brazil nuts, chestnuts, walnuts, etc.
Having margarine and butter is great because you can spread it on bread, use it for cooking, and make baked goods. These two ingredients also come in handy when you’ve run out of cooking oil.
Rice is an essential student grocery list item because it is inexpensive, filling, and you can do so much with it, like serving it with curry or stew, and you can even use it to make rice pudding!
I need to mention that this list is not in a particular order, but if it were, potatoes would definitely be in the top three. You can create many fantastic, inexpensive dishes with potatoes, including baked potatoes, French fries, oven-roasted potato wedges, crispy potato skins, mashed potato, tater tots, potato salad, potato crisps, potato bake, and many more!
Spreads are another must-have for college students because it takes very little time to make a quick sandwich when you don’t have a lot of time to spare. Also, college students are so busy that they don’t have the energy to go fancy when it’s time to make lunch. Spreads also have a long shelf-life, and it lasts longer because you only use a little bit of it at a time.
26. Salad Ingredients
This one is for the healthy diet folks. Preparing a deliciously fresh salad doesn’t take long, and you can add all sorts of healthy ingredients such as bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes, lettuce (or rocket leaves, spinach leaves, or even Chinese lettuce), Feta cheese, olives, gherkins, cucumber, salad dressing, etc.
I can’t recall there ever being a time that I didn’t start a dish with onions. Onions are like the base ingredient of every meal I can think of, so for me, onions are a must-have on a college student’s grocery list.
Yes, I know sugar isn’t very good for us (especially if you have a sweet tooth like me), but let’s be honest, it is a great ingredient to put in your morning coffee before you hit campus. Brown sugar is a better choice than white, refined sugar, but it depends on which type of sugar you prefer. Moderation is key!
29. Tomato Paste & Canned Tomatoes
Tomato paste and canned tomatoes are inexpensive, and you can prepare a quick and easy, delicious Napolitana pasta sauce and add it to spaghetti.
Although condiments aren’t necessary, it is nice to add a bit of sauce to your hot dog or dip your French fries in. You don’t have to go overboard; I always have mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, and chutney on my grocery list.
Rusks are an essential item because it is breakfast on their own. It is always good to dip a rusk or two in your morning tea or coffee, especially if you don’t have time for breakfast. I recommend buying muesli rusks or ones containing many seeds; they tend to keep you fuller for longer and give you more energy than, for example, buttermilk rusks.
Again, you don’t need to go overboard and buy all the spices on the spice rack; you only need the basics to add a little flavor to your food. The must-have spices for college students include salt, pepper (ground, white, cayenne, etc.), parsley, Aromat, sweet basil, and oregano.
This post was about everything that should be on a college student’s grocery list.
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