College Advice 101: Grocery Shopping & Meal Planning (Apartment Edition)

College Advice 101: Grocery Shopping & Meal Planning (Apartment Edition)

I was so excited over buying decor and new clothes I didn’t think about what to put in the fridge.

Before I knew it I had $20 left, and a whole lot of hunger.

How in the hell would $20 last me two-weeks?

Word to the Wise: College Students may be eligible for SNAP Benefits (EBT) Check here.

I had to budget and think critically about my cash, and what me and my roommate would agree to eat.

We don’t eat leftovers and she had the palette of a picky 4 year old. We did agree on my mom’s homemade chicken pot pie.

College Kitchen Basics: Apartment Edition

  • One of each: non-stick saute, sauce pan, boiler, pizza pan
  • Cooking utensils
  • Trash Can
  • Shower Curtain & Liner
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Ice Trays
  • Water Filter & Pitcher

Words to the Wise

It could break the bank if you buy all your fruit, produce, meat, condiments, seasonings and more all at one time.

Buying a lot of fatty, microwave meals will not help you feel good, nor ensure you do your best. Your skin won’t be happy either.

I recommend buying in baby steps. I’ll explain below.

“Cooking is simply finding a healthy balance between personal taste and perfect execution.” – Doorress

Bonus Tip: Taste is in the base. A spice rack is an investment in college. Sam’s Club $20 😉

But if you don’t believe me, still buy seasonings separately if you don’t want to be a bad cook.

Dollar Tree is Bae All Items Above Are $1.00

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At the more ‘bougie’ Dollar Tree you can find shelf and drawer liner.

  • TOTALLY worth the money
  • Doesn’t strip cabinet
  • Durable
  • Easy to manipulate
  • Easy to smooth out

Build in Baby Steps

  • After you buy that spice rack (you’ll thank me later)
  • Stock up on seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Non perishables like: oatmeal, rice, beans, canned goods etc.
  • Plan ‘Condiment Heavy’ Meals

Let Me Explain

I love to eat.

I metabolize food quickly and it’s nothing for me to eat at least two full meals and dessert.

Hey, there’s always room for ice cream.

Anyway, my meals typically REQUIRE at least one or more: ranch, ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey, syrup, jelly, butter and more.

Okay, judge all you want I don’t care.

Yes, I was nearly always broke in college but I wasn’t hungry…often.

Like T said, “We don’t eat off real plates, but we always eat REAL FOOD.”

To make it lighter on my budget I would plan cheap meals to accommodate the more expensive condiments.

For Example: Choose 1 From Each Category to Help you Get Started



Cereal and fruit

Bacon & Pancakes (needs: batter, bacon, syrup, butter, & vanilla)

Sausage & Biscuits (needs: pan sausage, biscuits, butter, jelly/honey)


Sandwiches: Cold cuts, bread, cheese, pickles, mayo, mustard etc..

Dinner Salad: lettuce mix, cheese, dressing, dried cranberries, turkey, crutons, bacon bits etc…

Hot Dogs: (To each their own)


Tacos: Ground beef, taco seasonings, Doritos, cheese, salsa, pico de galló and lettuce.

Burgers: ground chuck/beef, cheddar cheese, waffle fries, ketchup, mustard, buns etc.

Chicken Parm: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, panko bread-crumbs, italian seasonings, marinara sauce, mozzarella & parmesan cheese

My point is to build slowly by buying EVERYTHING you need, but only for that particular meal.

Who cares if you forget taco seasoning when you have a spice rack, or 10 individual bottles of seasonings.

Necessary Seasonsonings for Cooking College Cuisine:

  • Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • Morton Salt
  • Cajun Creole Seasonings
  • Minced Garlic
  • Onion Salt/ Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Italian Seasonings

Items to Buy in Bulk

  • Your favorite choice of fruit, healthy snacks, and drinks
  • Feminine Products
  • Hygiene Products
  • Trash Bags
  • Dish Soap
  • Cleaning Supplies
Meal Prep Buget Tracker Makes cooking in college easy
Helps me stay on budget and organized

My Faves

*This one is in my kitchen at home

These are just my tips for building your fridge with basics until you develop a schedule to cook more healthy college cuisine.
This is just a basic rundown to get you started but here’s an official: Wise Guide Meal Prep

Tell me your favorite meal and I’ll see if there’s a cheaper college cuisine alternative

Eat up


Any wise words?

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