Campus Life 101: Grocery Shopping
A few things to think about on your first trip to the market
As the Class of 2023 settles in on campus, BU Today offers a series called “Campus Life 101.” You’ll find tips about how to shop for groceries, what to look for when buying backpacks, how best to manage your personal finances, how to stay safe on—and off—campus, and how to reduce stress and anxiety.
For many upperclassmen, moving to an apartment on or off campus offers plenty of thrills. But they may quickly miss some of the creature comforts of dorm living: bathrooms no longer just clean themselves, and dining halls with numerous entrée options give way to a kitchen stocked with nothing but Ramen noodles, pasta, and a can of tuna. How are you going to eat well, especially if you’re on a budget?
Since the first step to good cooking is knowing how to shop for healthy ingredients, we asked Stacey Zawacki (Sargent’98, SPH’13), a Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences clinical assistant professor of nutrition and director of the BU Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, to take us on a tour of a local supermarket and give tips on buying fresh produce and protein-rich foods. With some care and planning, she says, you can get all of the week’s groceries in one visit without worrying about spoilage. For starters, Zawacki offers these tips:
Fruits and vegetables
- Most people don’t eat enough of these nutrient-rich superstars: aim for two servings of fruits and three of vegetables each day.
- A mixture of ripe and unripe produce will get you through the week. Broccoli will outlast lettuce. Green bananas will be yellow and ready to eat once you finish your berries.
- Not sure how to tell if it’s ripe? Don’t hesitate to ask the produce manager.
- For the best quality, buy fresh produce when it’s in season. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a nutritious and convenient alternative when fresh can’t be had. Cauliflower and blueberries, for example, are picked and flash-frozen at the peak of harvest and can be served anytime.
- The leanest cuts of meat include skinless chicken and turkey breast. “Select” grades of meat such as sirloin and round are often healthier and more affordable than “prime” cuts.
- Choose a small piece of salmon twice a week for a delicious dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- For the best quality, eat fresh fish the same day you buy it. Frozen or canned varieties are more affordable and convenient.
- You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the health benefits of plant proteins like nuts, beans, hummus, and tofu. Think “flexitarian”: meat-free is good for the environment and your wallet.
A healthy shopping list and more
- A complete list of ingredients to stock your healthy pantry can be found on the Sargent Choice Health Shopping List. Interested in a cooking class or a counseling session with a registered dietitian? Check out all of the resources available to students at the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center website.
“I hope this will help make cooking healthy, delicious meals a reality for students setting up their first kitchen,” says Zawacki.