Printable Grocery List - Give Your College Student a Reality Lesson

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Do you have a college student who is managing his own food costs? Perhaps he is not living in a dorm where he has access to a campus meal-plan, but instead is attempting to feed himself for the first time in his young life?

Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 27 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at Get your free printable grocery shopping list at

Forget printable grocery lists and meal-planning, your student is on the high road to take-out heaven.

How’s that going for you? For your wallet?

If you are like most parents of college kids, the moment comes when you realize your child doesn’t have a clue about how to budget for a reasonable food intake. And why should they? Our kids weren’t born knowing these things. College presents another opportunity for us to parent, just in a different way.

My third child is currently in college and here are some of the steps we have used to help our kids become savvy food consumers.

– Printable grocery list.

Teach your young adult the value of simple tools like a printable grocery list. Print some out from the internet or get an inexpensive grocery pad that magnetizes to the fridge.

There are simple rules to using a grocery shopping list:

1. If you want to buy it at the grocery store, put it on the grocery list.

2. When you get to the store, if it’s not on the grocery list, don’t buy it.

3. Grocery shopping only happens once a week (or two weeks or whatever you decide on togetber).

4. This is called self-discipline.

– Menu-planning.

Honestly, menu-planning at this stage of the game can be tough. Your student is not living in an environment that is conducive to having a set-schedule, nor does she probably have a great kitchen to work with, in terms of storage.

Then there’s always that pesky problem of roomies eating your food.

Still, the seeds of menu-planning can be born at this age. A calendar can be used to write down the menu for the week. Even a frozen pizza or wings need to know what night they’ll be eaten.

What your student can learn from this is that even if her schedule changes (or her tastes), thanks to this method she will be prepared to eat decently at a lower cost than continual fast food or take-out.

When my son was in college, I taught him a simple and fast method of making his own chicken nuggets. His roommates were so impressed they asked him to cook for them. The truth is they all miss home cooking at this age; they just don’t know how to accomplish it in a reasonable manner.

– Shopping - WITH list!

After the semi-menu-planning session, write out your student’s printable grocery list and go shopping. This is a great opportunity to talk about price and nutrition comparison and how to find great deals if you haven’t already had that conversation.

If you have younger kids, take them along! They can learn before they go off to college, saving both of you money and stress.

Remember, the rule is if it’s not on the list your student can’t buy it. That will encourage him to get in the habit of using his printable grocery list.

– Cooking strategies.

As mentioned earlier, your college student probably is not in an environment to do gourmet cooking. And she probably doesn’t want to, either.

That’s fine.

However, learning that opening two or three cans of veggies and broth, mixing together and heating makes a fine, nutritious soup is a valuable cooking strategy to know.

Knowing that a box of pasta plus a can of sauce and a small bag of salad makes a meal.

Being shown that there are decently healthy meals in the frozen food section of the grocery store and that they only take minutes to microwave.

These, like using a printable grocery list, are super-simple food strategies and often just right for the budding young adult.

And for you, these ideas are easier on the budget than continual take-out.

Using these simple ideas, you can steer your young adult on the path to healthier eating and beginning budgeting. Two life skills your grown child will need the rest of his life.

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