Want to write a grocery list for college students? Grocery shopping can be a difficult task — with busy schedules, tight budgets, and limited kitchen space, it’s easy to resort to fast food and takeout. But with a little planning and the right tools, you can stock up on healthy and affordable foods that will fuel your body and your brain. Here’s a grocery list for college students that will make your next trip to the store a breeze!
Bonus: we’ve linked to ingredients on Flipp so that you can find the best weekly deals to save even more.
First things first, let’s talk about the basics. These items are inexpensive and versatile, and they can be used to make a variety of meals.
- Brown rice:
- Brown rice is an affordable and filling whole grain that can be used in a variety of dishes.
- Flipp Tip: Cook a big batch of rice at the beginning of the week and use it as the base for meals throughout the week, like stir-fries, rice bowls, or burrito bowls.
- College Meal Idea: Chicken and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice.
- Whole Wheat Pasta:
- Whole grain pasta is a great source of fiber and can be used in a variety of dishes.
- College Meal Idea: Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and roasted veggies.
- Canned Chickpeas:
- Canned chickpeas are a great source of protein and can be used in a variety of dishes, like salads, hummus, or roasted as a snack.
- College Meal Idea: Greek chickpea salad with feta cheese and cucumbers.
- Whole Wheat Bread:
- Whole wheat bread is a great source of fiber and can be used for sandwiches, toast, or as a side for soups and stews.
- College Meal Idea: Turkey and cheese sandwich with baby carrots and hummus.
- Cereal is a great breakfast option that can be eaten with milk or yogurt and topped with fruit, nuts, or seeds. It should definitely be a staple in your grocery list for college students.
- College Meal Idea: Cereal with Greek yogurt and mixed berries.
- Pasta Sauce:
- There’s nothing quicker and more filling than a pasta dish. Simplify cooking with pasta sauce that can be quickly heated up. Pasta sauce can be used for a variety of dishes like chili, soups, or even pizza.
- College Meal Idea: Marinara pasta with meatballs.
- Spices & Herbs:
- Spices and condiments can add flavor and variety to your meals without breaking the bank. Here are some common spices and herbs that can be used in a variety of dishes:
- Cooking Oil:
- Cooking oil is an essential ingredient in many dishes and can be used for frying, baking, or sauteing vegetables and meats.
- College Meal Idea: Stir-fry vegetables and chicken in a light coating of cooking oil, served over rice.
Dairy or Dairy Alternatives
Dairy or dairy alternatives are all great sources of calcium and protein. If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, try soy, almond, or coconut milk instead.
- Milk is a great source of calcium and can be used in cereal, smoothies, or as a base for hot chocolate.
- College Meal Idea: Frozen berries and banana protein smoothie made with milk.
- Cheese can be used in a variety of dishes, like sandwiches, omelets, or as a topping for baked potatoes.
- College Meal Idea: Grilled cheese sandwich with whole wheat bread and tomato soup.
- Greek Yogurt:
- Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and can be used in a variety of ways. Use it as a base for smoothies, in dips or sauces, or as a snack.
- College Snack Idea: Greek yogurt smoothie bowl with frozen mixed berries and spinach, topped with granola.
Quick and Easy Meals
On an especially hectic week, these quick and easy meal options will help prevent any the last-minute meal delivery orders to keep your budget in check.
- Canned Soup:
- Canned soup is a quick and convenient meal option that can be heated up on the stove or in the microwave.
- College Meal Idea: Tomato Soup with crackers.
- Instant Noodles:
- Instant noodles are a cheap and easy meal option that can be ready in minutes.
- College Meal Idea: Instant Noodles with frozen vegetables and eggs.
- Mac & Cheese:
- Mac & cheese is a classic comfort food that can be made from scratch or from a boxed mix, and can be customized with different cheese and toppings.
- College Meal Idea: Mac & cheese with crumbled bacon.
- Frozen Pizza:
- Sometimes popping a frozen pizza in the oven is just what you’ll need to get through the day. Just make sure to balance out the rest of your meals with whole, unprocessed foods.
Fruits and Vegetables
Now let’s move on to the fresh produce section. Fresh or frozen, fruits and veggies are essential for a healthy diet. Opt for seasonal produce to save money and add variety to your meals when creating your grocery list for college students.
- Frozen Mixed Berries:
- Frozen fruit is a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your meals. Use them in smoothies, on top of oatmeal, or in baked goods.
- College Meal Idea: Berry oatmeal bowl with Greek yogurt.
- Baby Carrots:
- Baby carrots are a convenient and healthy snack that can be eaten raw or dipped in hummus or Greek yogurt dip.
- College Meal Idea: Baby carrots and hummus as a snack, or as a side for a turkey and cheese wrap
- Apples are a convenient and healthy snack that can be eaten raw or used in baked goods.
- College Meal Idea: Apple slices with almond butter as a snack, or apple cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast.
- Frozen Vegetables:
- Frozen vegetables are a convenient and affordable way to add veggies to your meals. Use them in stir-fries, soups, or as a side dish.
- College Meal Idea: Stir-fry with frozen mixed vegetables and chicken, served with brown rice.
Next up, protein. Although beef can be expensive, there are other affordable sources of protein that are just as nutritious.
- Canned Tuna:
- Tuna is a great source of lean protein that can be used in a variety of meals. Mix it with Greek yogurt or mayo for a quick and easy tuna salad or add it to pasta dishes and sandwiches.
- College Meal Idea: Tuna salad sandwich with whole wheat bread and baby carrots on the side.
- Chicken Breasts:
- Chicken breasts can be grilled, baked, or sautéed.
- College Meal Idea: Grilled chicken breast with quinoa and roasted veggies.
- Beans are a great source of protein and can be used in a variety of dishes like tacos, salads, or soups.
- College Meal Idea: Bean and sweet potato burrito bowl with brown rice and salsa.
- Eggs are a versatile and affordable source of protein that can be used in a variety of dishes, like omelets, frittatas, or breakfast sandwiches.
- College Meal Idea: Veggie omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers.
- Ground Turkey:
- Turkey lean protein is a great alternative to beef and can be used in a variety of dishes, like meatballs, chili, or tacos.
- College Meal Idea: Turkey and black bean chili with quinoa.
Last but not least, snacks and treats are a must-have in every grocery list for college students. It’s important to have healthy snacks on hand for when you get hungry in between meals.
Popcorn is a low-calorie and fiber-rich snack that is perfect for movie nights or study sessions.
Flipp Tip: Use air-popped or light microwave popcorn to keep the calorie count low.
College Snack Idea: Lightly salted popcorn with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
Cheese sticks are pre-portioned snacks that provide a quick and easy source of protein and calcium. They’re also great for snacking while on the go.
College Snack Idea: String cheese with whole-grain crackers.
Trail mix is a versatile and customizable snack that can be tailored to your preferences. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit provide a healthy mix of protein, healthy fats, and carbs.
College Snack Idea: Trail mix with almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chips.
These grocery items are essential for college students because they’re affordable, versatile, and can be used in a variety of meals throughout the week. Remember to use the Flipp app to find the best deals on these items at your local grocery store. Now study smart, and happy shopping!