Every college student knows that food costs money and unless you want to live off of ramen noodles, you need to be smart about how you spend your food budget. Here are five tips to saving money on groceries:

1.) Never Shop Hungry: Shopping while hungry is always a recipe for disaster. If you shop while hungry, you are more likely to make impulse purchases and end up spending more money. Having a snack before you head out to the store will reduce the temptation to add an extra box of cookies or chips.
2.) Don’t Be Afraid of Store Brands: Store brands often taste the same as the name brand foods but they don’t have the expensive price tag that comes with the name. Be ready to train your eye to look towards the top or bottom of the shelves to find the cheaper store brands and you’ll be doing your wallet a favor. Experiment to find which store brands you like.

3.) Stock Up on Deals. Whenever there is a really good deal on something, buy extras to last you until the next sale. Everything from meat to produce to cereal goes on sale at different times throughout the year on a rotational basis. If you run out of a product before it goes on sale again, you are more likely to pay full price for it. Items you should always stock up on include meat (put that freezer to use!), toiletries like toothpaste or shampoo, and canned food items.
4.) Buy in Season. When it comes to buying produce, it is always cheaper to buy what is in season. In season vegetables and fruits are also fresher. If the price is really great, don’t be afraid to stock up, eat what you can, and freeze the extras to last.
5.) Share a Warehouse Membership: The big warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club have some amazing deals on everything from food, house products, and electronics. Although these stores have yearly membership fees, if you split the cost of a membership with roommates/friends and then shop together, the membership fees are definitely worth it. Bonus side note: Costco has great pizza for cheap – perfect for late night study sessions or parties.

What are your favorite tips for saving money on groceries?

[Photo Courtesy of Flickr user Golden Eel and used by C.C. Attribution 2.0]