The transition to college can bring about a lot of new lifestyle and routine changes in a student’s day-to-day life. They are expected to shoulder more responsibility in both their academic and personal lives, as they learn to juggle the obstacles that come with living on their own for the first time.
First- and second-year students at Gonzaga are required to have a meal plan while they live on campus and as such do not have to master the art of grocery shopping or cooking right out of the gate.
Being able to rely on a meal plan the first few years can help ease students into life without their parents or home cooked meals, but students should use this time to learn to budget for food and learn some go-to recipes while they have the safety net of their meal plans.
One of the biggest struggles students face when grocery shopping on their own for the first time is just how much food does one person need? Going into a store blindly without a plan can be overwhelming, and the cost of food can add up quickly.
Senior Sarah Miceli recommends laying out a monthly or weekly budget for yourself. This way, you can avoid the midcheckout panic after realizing you’ve miscalculated the cost of your groceries.
“Go into it with a plan in mind so you don’t overspend or overbuy,” Miceli said.
Her biggest recommendation to students who are either food shopping for the first time or who are doing so on a tight budget is to utilize the URM Cash and Carry located right behind Coughlin.
“Cash and Carry takes Bulldog Bucks and always has lots of student deals and discounts happening,” Miceli said.
Shopping in bulk can be overwhelming the first few times, so Miceli recommends shopping with friends to help split up groceries and save money.
“Buying in bulk is a great way to save money and stock up, especially when you’re buying carbs or long-lasting foods,” Miceli said. “Going with other people is a great way to divide up the cost of groceries as well as split up bulk products.”
Miceli said while many students associate Cash and Carry with carb items such as pastas and long-lasting grains, she recommends the produce section just as highly.
“I’ve learned throughout my years at GU that if you go there [Cash and Carry] at 11 a.m. that’s when their daily shipments of produce come in, so you can grab the freshest foods first,” Miceli said.
“You’ve just got to be on the lookout for deals because they’re always happening,” Miceli said. “Safeway here is for some reason much more expensive than any other Safeway I’ve ever shopped at, but they often have great deals on meats and produce.”
If your body and mind can get through it, Miceli recommends a vegetarian diet as it’s much less expensive and less work to prepare and store, not to mention better for the planet.
If being a vegetarian isn’t a lifestyle you’re up for, she recommends meal prepping in bulk over the weekend to save time during the week and spending a little extra to make sure your meat is good quality.
Junior Maren Beauchamp frequents Trader Joe’s for all her shopping needs. She highly recommends the trip there for those with a transportation method available.
As far as prices go, Trader Joe’s is a great place to do your shopping if you’re on a tighter budget. Monthly Trader Joe’s emails are always full of deals and discounts to keep an eye out for.
Grocery shopping, cooking and meal prepping on your own for the first time can be a daunting experience for many students coming to college. If you tackle the grocery store with a plan and a list it’ll be a piece of cake.