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How to Grocery Shop in College: From Choosing a Store to Hauling Your Purchases up 4 Flights of Stairs

At this point in the semester you’ve probably run out of all the goodies you stocked your fridge with during move-in with the parents.  You may even be one of the desperate individuals scraping the crumbs from the bottom of the cereal bag or seeing how long you can survive off of stolen Pit bananas and apples (which is a surprisingly long time – if you’ve learned the true art of “stealing” from the Pit).

So, it’s time to make a trip to the grocery store.  First, you have to select where to shop.  Whole Foods just sounds fancy. Maybe you have a Harris Teeter Vic card.  There’s always Trader Joe’s, which has the best prices, but maybe not all the food you need…  Oh, never mind, you’ll just go to Target.  It’s close, and you need mascara and dishes for your room, too.  Step 1: completed.

Step 2: Find time to drive to Target or find someone to drive you there.  This is self-explanatory and a good test of your time management skills.

Step 3:  Congratulations, you’ve made it to the store!  Now, you just have to make it past the growing Halloween candy and décor sections that already swallow the Target entrance.  If you can do this without being tempted by all of the $1 decorations, it’s smooth sailing.

Step 4:  You have a cart in hand.  Remember that you have a meal plan, so there is no need to stock your room for lunch and dinner, but having a back-up food supply and snacks keep it interesting.  Greek yogurt, individual pieces of fruit or berries, carrot sticks or pre-cut vegetables, nuts, and air-popped popcorn make for no-mess snacks. If you don’t like going to the Pit early and still want a little something in the morning, it is good to have breakfast items on hand too.  Cereal or granola, oatmeal, or, of course, yogurt are simple, yet nutritious breakfast choices when selected thoughtfully. Just make sure that the granola is whole grain, has a punch of protein, and is low in sugar. Stuck on what to add to your list? Here’s an example with some add-ons:

  • Berries (frozen or fresh) and other fruit from the Pit
  • Greek Yogurt (check the nutrition label for sugar content; typically 5g of sugar or less is ideal)
  • Quaker quick cooking oats
  • Bear Naked Fit granola
  • Coffee K-cups or Tea
  • Almond Milk/coffee mix-ins
  • Preferred sweeteners
  • Natural Nut Butter/Nuts
  • Baby Carrots
  • Salsa
  • Bolthouse Farm Yogurt dressing
  • Air-popped popcorn

EXTRA ITEMS

  • Low sodium canned soup
  • Pre-cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • Frozen mixed vegetables
  • Rye, Wheat or Whole Grain bread

SPECIAL ITEMS

  • Chia seeds
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Dark cocoa powder
  • PB2 (powdered peanut butter)
  • Cinnamon
  • KIND Bars or other (high in protein and low in added sugars)

Keep in mind when you look at food labels that US laws state that labels can read 0 calories if a serving contains less than 5 calories.  So, the trace amount of calories in “calories-free” sweeteners and the like still add up over time.

Step 5:  Figure out how to carry the inordinate amount of bags from the car, across the quad, up the stairs and into your room in one trip.

*All photography by Julia DeNuzzio.

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