In college, it is ridiculously hard to balance a social life and a budget. It is so easy to spend $15 on dinner with friends, than it is to spend that money on groceries or gas. College is typically the first time students are away from home and have to learn how to budget their finances. It's better to learn in college than post-grad life.
There are so many stores in the USF area and in New Tampa. Here are my favorite budget friendly stores and what I like to buy there.
The Walmart on Nebraska, is nicer than the one on Fletcher and the one in New Tampa. It is cleaner and more organized, which is why I prefer driving the extra mile. Walmart is the best place to shop for dried food, staple items, cleaning supplies and household items. Name brand items are typically cheaper at Walmart too.
Aldi is a good place too go if you don't care about name brands. The majority of the items there are generic brands. They only sell things with high demand, so they don't sell a lot of merchandise and there are less options. But what they do have is inexpensive and good quality. They also have cheap paper goods, if you don't like doing dishes.
Publix is my favorite grocery store. They always have a bunch of buy one get one free deals on pasta sauce, pasta, bread and more, which are all staples for college students. I prefer produce and meats from Publix as well. Plus they always have one sub on sale a week, which you can split into two meals or buy a whole bunch.
If you need plates, decorations, or kitchen tools, Homegoods on Bruce B. Downs is the place to go. This store is literally the Marshalls of home items. A lot of the stuff are expensive brands marked down to affordable prices. They are constantly restocking, so different stuff with be there each time you go. They even have cheap K-cups you can stock up on.
There are so many stores near campus, so don't forget to compare prices before you go out. You can easily save money by checking out the "junk mail" coupons in the mail. Download apps to help with budgeting, like Mint. It is ran by the same company as Turbo Tax. It tracks all of your spending and alerts you when you are spending over your budget. There are also gas apps, like Gas Buddy, that find the cheapest gas stations in your area.
College is already so expensive, so you don't have to keep digging bigger holes for yourself every time you go shopping. Just be smart and look around for the best prices.