Eating right in college can be tough. Last semester, I overextended my budget (and my love handles). I got behind, homework piled up and my stress level shot through the roof. Something had to give. Instead of sandwiches and homemade snacks, I ended up at Panda Express and Taco Taco in the fifteen minutes between classes. I was particularly fond of the Kung Pao Chicken—though there was something about the ratio of meat to vegetables that threw me off.

This semester, I decided to resist the lure of Taco Taco and to defy The Panda.

I needed to gear up. I needed groceries. I needed Walmart. Oh Walmart, the draw of your convenient hours and locations. The lure of your fluorescent lights, rollback prices, do it yourself checkout lines and poor labor standards and practices. It can’t be beat. 

Groceries have always been a problem for me. I tend to quickly forget what I went for and end up making two or three trips more than necessary. I would have all of my groceries unpacked and be ready to prepare a meal only to realize that I didn’t have any milk.

Even with the dent in my gas money, I still save money compared to the cost of eating in the cafeteria. With a little preparation, eating cheap can be easy. I tend to deal mostly in sandwich meats and cheeses, but my full grocery list looks like this:

bens-grocery-list-cutout

…and I can eat for a week. I also usually buy a bushel of bananas and a variety of apples.

Sandwiches are easy. I make a chicken sandwich with three or four pieces of chicken, one piece of sliced cheese, some hot sauce, pickles and mustard. Half it, bag it, and I’m out the door.

If I have some extra time on Sunday, I get ahead. Canned tuna or packaged salmon are easily paired with mustard and onions, or mayo and relish. I clean and use the empty sandwich meat containers as tupperware and stack up my MRE’s in the fridge. I eat the delicious fish on sandwiches or crackers whenever I get hungry. 

To finish the week strong, I bust out the lettuce (yes, let us eat lettuce). A bag of cheap lettuce lasts for about six small salads. Top each one with shredded sandwich meat, crumbled cheese and caesar dressing in a tupperware container for a quick in-between class meal.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned as I recount my food-related misadventures throughout the semester.

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