You are greeted by the dull roar of an automatic sliding glass door. Basket, where’s a basket? After all, you don’t need a semi-truck sized cart for this trip. Your meandering journey begins in the baking aisle because, well, it’s right there! Do you need gluten free finely sifted flour? Why not. Your g-free friend’s birthday is in a month and it would be nice to do something for her. Vegetable section. Maybe swiss chard would be good because the attractive cooking show host made swiss chard look sexy. Frozen food corridor. Why not get a few frozen pizzas, just in case. Dairy section. Shredded mozerella cheese because you remember seeing it in your mom’s fridge. Is this everything you need? What about the bargain priced quinoa? Didn’t you just read something about the health benefits of that grain? Your basket weighs slightly less than a baby elephant. Why didn’t you grab a cart? Are all the lines really a ten minute wait? Why does the McDonald’s dollar menu sound so much more appealing than this?
There is no task as formidable as walking into the grocery store for the first time. Alone. The vast supermarkets are enough to make your metaphysics midterm look like a welcome treat. Prices, organic, low fat, naturally grown, high fiber, cage free, range free, zero cal, humane, local, usda, fda. And then there’s the realization that you really don’t know what to cook or how to cook. You forget every meal your parents have ever cooked for you over the past two decades.
It’s hard to find the time to eat healthy, plan menus, and cook them. That’s why I compiled a brief list to help subdue the grocery-store panic felt by so many college students. They’re simple, have multiple uses, and are healthy.
1. Rice – Good basic foundation to have on the shelf. Can go in stir fries, accompaniment to meat, in fried rice, with beans, anything!
2. Bell peppers – Mix them in with your rice for a stir fry. Chop them up for a snack. Avoid scurvy with a large dose of Vitamin C.
3. Peanut butter – A dallop of protein can be eaten with fruit, put in smoothies, or used to satisfy your inner five year old PB&J addict.
4. Cheese – Any kind: brie, cheddar, Gouda, flagship. Good sprinkled over breakfast eggs, adorning a grilled cheese sandwich, or as the topping on your dinner salad. Works as a good snack with fruit or crackers.
5. Bananas – Staple smoothie ingredient, breakfast on the go, atop your peanut butter sandwich.
6. Yogurt – Quality breakfast food, especially for college students who don’t have time to eat breakfast. Works as a snack or dessert.
7. Eggs – Get creative with eggs. Scramble, fry and top off a piece of toast, hard boil and make an egg salad sandwich. And please buy range free.
8. Lettuce – Spinach, romaine, anything green and leafy will be useful in throwing together an easy, tasty, and healthy lunch. Top off with your cheese, rice, and bell peppers and you’ve got a lunch your housemates will envy.
9. Onion – Put some pizzazz in your food, whether that is hash browns, salad, stir fry. You’d be surprised how quickly the onion turns an adequate meal into an exciting meal. Warning: may bring onset of tears.
10. Tortillas – Versatile staple that can “wrap-up” any meal: breakfast burrito, lunch wrap, enchilada dinner.
What food staples for the college student grocery shopper did I miss? Add your suggestions in the comments!