So, it’s time to go to college. You arrive, eat three meals a day at the dining hall on campus, and realize that you’re already getting sick of the food. A great trick to keeping things interesting is to check out your local grocery stores and stock up on some snacks, quick meals, and other necessities.

In terms of the best grocery stores for college students, the ones I have listed are my opinion on what I consider to be the best from personal experience. These grocery stores will help you put food in your belly, but on a friendly budget, which you are most likely already trying to stretch. 

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1. Aldi

Best grocery stores for college students: Aldi
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Aldi is affordable if you are in college and looking to go food shopping. The food available is not from named brands, which makes it cheaper. The quality of food isn’t any less, though. They might have frosted flakes cereal that tastes the same, but it will be called something else. They leave things in their original packaging and palettes, so this affects the pricing. As a newcomer, you must come prepared with a quarter for a shopping cart and reusable bags because they, like many other grocery stores, no longer provide bags. It’s a great option for students who want to stretch a penny.

2. Walmart  

Best grocery stores for college students: Walmart
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Walmart is known for its everyday low prices. Walmart has a great value brand where you can find things at a lower cost than if you got the name brand. Walmart has many options for frozen food. If you don’t have the time to cook, you can pop it in the microwave, and it is ready to eat in a few minutes. In college, there are so many things happening with classes, homework, extracurricular activities, and clubs it can be hard to find the time to cook or even wait in lines at the dining hall. I always felt there was never enough time in the day to complete everything I needed. Knowing I had plenty of frozen food options in my mini fridge that I could quickly heat up was the best thing ever. 

3. Dollar Tree  

Best grocery stores for college students: Dollar Tree
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Believe it or not, you can find many food options at Dollar Tree. I mean, it’s a dollar and twenty-five cents store now, but you can still get meals and snacks at such a low cost. In college, it can feel like you are on an extremely tight budget, and if you are not doing meal swipes and need to get one, I suggest going here. If I couldn’t shop at Aldi or Walmart because I was tight with money that week or month, Dollar Tree came through. 

4. WinCo Foods 

Best grocery stores for college students: WinCo Foods

WinCo Foods emphasizes affordable food shopping. They don’t take credit cards or employ baggers, so they are able to keep costs down. The great thing about shopping here is that they even offer food in bulk, and unlike Costco, you don’t have to pay for a membership. Whether you want to get things in bulk or in regular size, WinCo Foods allows you to choose. If you and your dorm-mate split it, buying in bulk can save you from having to do food shopping as frequently. I suggest getting things like snacks for bulk and drinks. Whether it be granola bars, chips, water, Gatorade, ramen noodles, those food items don’t go bad quickly and help you stay full on campus.

5. Market Basket

Best grocery stores for college students: Market Basket
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Market Basket is one of the best grocery stores for college students because they have food items at affordable prices. They provide you with quality food for a reasonable price, and it’s a great place to buy fresh fruits or snacks to keep in your dorm. I would suggest this place if you live in a dorm, sharing with others because you can all make the trip to the store together and split costs. They’ll have options for everyone and lots of options for the essentials.

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These five food shopping hubs are the best grocery stores for college students in my opinion, but you have to look at what’s best for you and what’s nearby your school or dorm room. Other options that students enjoy include Target. Costco, Publix, and BJ’s, but these are by far the most affordable if you’re able to stop by without traveling far from campus. Those places aren’t as well-suited for college students. I learned big time after my first expensive food shopping trip and started going to Aldi’s after that. 

Take the time to find which grocery store works for you while in college. It will be a game changer. Hopefully, this helps you get the necessary food while staying on a must-needed college budget.