How To: Grocery Shopping for Smart Collegiates

It turns out that being completely off meal plan is a scary reality to face. It means no more late night trips to Jo’s, no take-out from the Ratty to power you through a difficult midterm paper, and no more grabbing muffins from the Blue Room before a morning class. However, while being off meal plan means you can no longer get a spicy with and a side of mozzarella sticks any time you want, it also means that you can be completely in control of what you’re eating. You no longer have to worry if the Ratty and the Vdub’s dinner options both seem lacking. Instead, you can eat what you want… provided you had enough foresight to stock your fridge with all the necessary ingredients.


This is where proper planning comes into play. It’s all too easy to indulge in one of the food trucks on Thayer after a long seminar rather than having to go back to your room and cook a healthy meal. In order to avoid this tasty, yet ultimately unhealthy and expensive pitfall, here are some tips to make the most of your year off meal plan:


1. Cook Meals Ahead of Time

If you find yourself with some free time on the weekend, don’t hesitate to start making some weekday dinner options. You can keep these options stored in containers in your fridge so that all you have to do after a long day in classes is come home and warm up an already prepared meal.


2. Go to the Grocery Store with a Plan

Making a detailed list before you go shopping saves money and time. Organize your list by food group to insure that you are buying foods that give you all the necessary nutrients that you need. You don’t want to leave the store only to realize that you’ve gotten only carbs in the form of sugary breakfast foods and snack options. It also helps to plan what meals you’re going to eat the following week before you go shopping. Bring the recipes with you to make sure that you are buying everything from your list.


3. Look for Sales

Check the weekly circulars online for places like Whole Foods and East Side Market to see what sales they are having every week. This will help you save money and might cause you to try some new product that you’ve never had before.


4. Don’t go to the Store Hungry

I’m serious! Have a meal before you go to the store so that you will be less tempted to buy the all too tempting Ben and Jerry’s pint that’s on sale. The less hungry that you are, the more likely you’ll be to stick with the items on your grocery list.


5. Consider Participating in Market Shares

Brown has some great options for students off meal plan who want to eat fresh and locally grown produce. West House offers students weekly produce deliveries as well as home cooked meals on certain days of the week. The weekly farmer’s market on Wriston also provides students with some great options, including the amazing fresh bread from Seven Stars Bakery.


6. Explore Providence

The whole city is at your disposal. Now that you’re free from the limited options at the Ratty, don’t be afraid to explore all of the culinary wonders that Providence has to offer. Always wanted an excuse to have brunch at The Duck and Bunny? Well, now you have the perfect excuse. While eating out can definitely add up, it’s always nice to have the night off from cooking every once in a while and to discover what Providence has to offer beyond college hill.