30 Essential College Grocery List For Students

The moment you move into college is the moment you take responsibility for everything you do: responsibilities like cooking and shopping for the things you need.

To avoid getting confused with the things you need every day, it is very important to make a college grocery list before you shop for your groceries as a student.

Grocery shopping is a fun activity that appears confusing without a list. To make it easier, you need a list to guide you.

If you don’t know how to shop smartly for a student budget, you’ll end up leaving the grocery store with foods of less value after having overspent, and that is where a poor college student’s grocery list comes into play.

So, If you can master the art of writing a grocery list and putting the essential things on it, it’ll save you time and money. Read on to learn the essential grocery list for college students.

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What Does Grocery Mean?

A grocery is a food that you buy in a grocer’s shop. A grocery store or grocer’s shop is a retail shop that primarily sells food, either fresh or preserved.

Why Do I Need A College Grocery List?

Often, finding yourself at the grocery store without a grocery list usually leads to unfavorable outcomes. Here are the reasons you need a grocery list as a student:

  • To avoid buying unnecessary items
  • To avoid going way over your budget
  • It prevents you from buying something you already have
  • To avoid ending up with random food items that don’t go together
  • It stops you from forgetting things you need
  • It prevents you from going to the store multiple times
  • It keeps you on the healthy track because you tend to buy what you require

See also: College Student Budget Template: How To Track Your Spending In School

How Do I Create A College Grocery List?

Going grocery shopping without an organized list can lead to you aimlessly moving around the store without a detailed plan, only to go home with a bunch of things you don’t need and missing those you do.

A grocery list has many benefits, like keeping you on a healthy track and preventing additional trips to the store.

Follow these steps to make an organized grocery list:

Step 1: Have A Running List

Have a “to buy” list somewhere in your room. Use this running list to keep tabs on items you have run out of or are close to needing replenishment.

Step 2: Meal Planning

Meal planning is the best way to ensure you only purchase items you need, not go way over your budget, and stay organized.

Step 3: Take Inventory Of Staple Items

The first step to creating a grocery list is to go through your pantry and fridge and take inventory of any staple items that need replenishing. Eggs, Milk, Butter, Granola Bars, and any canned goods you use regularly need to be on the list.

Step 4: Look Up For Coupons

Look up different coupons and specials available to you before organizing your list. This way, if you find a deal on something you usually run out of quickly, you can stock up and save money.

Step 5: Organize By Sections

To make your shopping trip less time-consuming and labor-intensive, organize your list according to the sections in your grocery store. If you divide your list into cells, it’s much easier to ensure that no items go overlooked.

Step 6: Specify the Quantity

The quantity of one item is very important when creating your list. Knowing how much of a thing you need to get in advance is good.

Step 7: Check Your List

Go over your list and make any final edits before it’s time to leave for the store. Write out a good copy of your list.

Step 8: Don’t Leave It

Don’t leave your list on the counter! Make sure to put it somewhere so you won’t leave it behind before leaving for your shopping trip.

What Are The Essential College Grocery List for Students?

Whether you live in a hostel or private accommodation as a student, you must cook your meals. And to do so, you must have the following on your grocery list.

Here we provide you with 30 essential grocery lists for college students. This list is divided into non-refrigerated, refrigerated, and frozen food items:

College Grocery list (Refrigerated)

  • Butter/Margarine
  • Milk/Coconut Milk/Almond Milk (Your favorites)
  • Eggs/Egg Substitutes
  • Cheese (any), Cheddar, Ricotta, Feta, Brie, etc.
  • Fresh fruits/vegetables (Apples, bananas, tomato, lettuce, etc.)
  • Condiments (pick your favorite most-used only) Mayo, Ketchup, Mustard, Barbeque Sauce, etc.
  • Deli Meats/Bacon/Rotisserie Chickens Pre-cooked or buy your own
  • Yogurt
  • Pickles, Olives, Hot pepper rings, marinated vegetables.

College Grocery List (Non-refrigerated)

  • Bread
  • Flours- All-purpose, Whole Wheat, Flax Meal/Flour, Almond Flour, etc.
  • Oils- Extra Virgin, Coconut Oil, Walnut oil, Peanut Oil, Sesame Oil, Vegetable Oil, Cooking spray, etc.
  • Honey/Peanut Butter/Almond Butter/ Sunflower seed butter, etc.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder and other baking basics, Vanilla extract, chocolate chips, marshmallows, jello, cooked instant pudding/custards, Baking powder, Baking soda, Corn Starch
  • Whole Wheat Pasta, Cous-Cous, Brown Rice, White Rice, Wild Rice, Quinoa, etc.
  • Canned foods- Tomatoes, Pizza Sauce, vegetables and fruit, olives, mushrooms, tomato paste, etc.
  • Vinegar- White, Apple Cider, Wine Vinegar, Rice Wine Vinegar, lemon juice, Lime Juice, etc.
  • Whole-grain Cereal/Instant-Oatmeal (sugar-reduced), Steel cut oats, Large Flake Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, etc.
  • Raisins and Nuts- Cashew, Peanuts, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hemp hearts, Sunflower Seeds, Dried Fruits, etc.
  • Beans (all kinds- Dry is cheaper ) Chickpeas, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Tahini Paste *You can make an excellent hummus very quickly.
  • Herbs and Spices *Buy all your favorites to flavor your meals *including sugars, garlic, chicken broth, parsley, and bay leaf.

Grocery List (Frozen)

  • Frozen Fruits
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Wraps/Pita/Tortillas/Bread/English muffins/Flat Bread
  • Hotdogs or Veggie Dogs
  • Sausages or Vegetarian option
  • Minced Beef/Pork/Lamb/Chicken/Turkey or Vegetarian Mince
  • Frozen egg cartons (these are great because you can defrost them and use them as needed)
  • Other cuts of meat- Pork Chops, Chicken Breast, Turkey Breast, Ribs, Chicken Wings
  • You can freeze fresh ginger.

Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for increased prices, reduced prices, and in-store specials. These will help stretch your grocery budget so you can spend a bit more on the essential products you need.

Do I Need Snacks On My College Grocery List?

You might think snacks don’t belong to an essential grocery list for students, but sometimes they should be added to your budget outside the essential things you need. If you’re thinking of adding snacks to your essential grocery list, check out these snacks:

  • Popcorn
  • Crackers
  • Rice cakes
  • Baked chips
  • Apple/banana chips
  • Seeds/nuts
  • Fig cookies
  • Granola bars
  • Dark chocolate

How Can I Save Money While Grocery Shopping In College?

While it might seem overwhelming to feed and shop for yourself, you need to save money as a student while shopping. Check out these tips to help you save money:

1. Check Student-Friendly Stores

The easiest way to save money while shopping is by frequenting local markets that offer student discounts. Usually, stores close to campus know they’ll get more customers if they offer a 5%–10% discount for those with university ID cards.

Buying your weekly groceries from these shops at a discounted price is perfect for sticking to your budget.

SEE ALSO: Easy Procedures to get Netflix Student Discounts Fast | Updated

2. Plan Your Meals (and Stick to That Plan)

One of the most important things you should do before grocery shopping is to plan out your meals for the week. A meal plan will help you stay on track and hopefully under budget when shopping because you’ll know exactly what you need.

3. Eat Before You Shop

Studies indicate that being hungry while looking at food only leads to greater perceived hunger which could lead to more impulsive thoughts about food.

Make sure to grab a snack at home or have a friend grab something from the dining hall before you head to the store. That way, you can avoid spending more on things that excite your hungry stomach.

4. Use Technology

These days, there’s an app for everything. Grocery shopping is no different. As a college student, you can easily download several apps that help you keep track of your pantry’s inventory, budget effectively, or eat healthier.

There are quite a few different apps, so try several to find out which makes your shopping experience easier.

5. Freeze Anything and Everything

Yogurt, bread, vegetables, tomato sauce, almost everything lasts longer when you throw it in the freezer. Freezing leftovers from meals work great too.

What Is The Average College Student’s Grocery Budget?

Each state has a different average monthly average grocery budget. While an individual’s grocery bill typically comes to $356, a college student’s average grocery budget is about $260.

Check out the monthly cost of groceries for college students’ state table below.

StateCost per Month
New York$387
West Virginia$331
South Carolina$315
District of Columbia$309
Rhode Island$294


Why do I need a College Grocery List?

As a college student, you need a grocery list to:
Avoid buying unnecessary items
Avoid going way over your budget
It prevents you from buying something you already have
Avoid ending up with random food items that don’t go together
It stops you from forgetting things you need
It prevents you from going to the store multiple times
keeps you on the healthy track because you buy what you require

What does a Healthy Grocery List look like?

Below is what a healthy grocery list looks like
1. Eggs.
2. Asparagus.
3. Broccoli.
4. Potatoes.
5. Milk.
6. Oats / Granola.
7. Chicken Breast.
8. Spinach.

What snacks should I add to my grocery list?

If you’re thinking of adding snacks to your grocery list, check out these snacks:
1. Popcorn
2. Crackers
3. Rice cakes
4. Baked chips
5. Apple/banana chips
6. Seeds/nuts
7. Fig cookies
8. Granola bars
9. Dark chocolate


Having a college grocery list is very important. It would keep you on a healthy track because you buy things you require, and it also helps you avoid buying unnecessary items.




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