What $20 scores at the local grocery stores

Photo by Marielle Decena   Students set out with a modest budget to see what can be afforded at local Elmhurst grocery stores.

Photo by Marielle Decena

Students set out with a modest budget to see what can be afforded at local Elmhurst grocery stores.

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

Follow her @_marsbarz23

The typical college student is often epitomized as a frugal spender that survives off of granola bars for breakfast and ramen-fueled dinners. Often, the pangs of expensive tuition and monthly bills leave little room for deeper exploration into the grocery aisles. 


Among the many things that first time college students stress over, getting the bang for their buck tends to be the biggest challenge. For those of you who find yourselves grocery shopping for the first time in college, here’s a list of essentials from local grocery stores such as Walmart, Jewel Osco, and Mariano’s that you can score with just $20: 

Walmart is notable for their insanely affordable prices and vast array of food items. A carton of eighteen eggs, for example, cost fifty six cents while twelve packs of ramen costs $2.16. Eggs are arguably the most versatile food items on this list since they can be prepared in various ways and utilized as an ingredient for different meals. 


For example, adding eggs to ramen is a common tip that college students recommend in order to add more flavoring and nutrient content to an otherwise bland and unfulfilling cup of noodles. 

As the closest grocery store from campus, Jewel Osco offers an abundance of refrigerator-filling essentials. The Asian chopped salads priced at two for $5 come in large serving sizes and are equipped with an assortment of veggies, dressings and croutons.


 Each pre-made package can last up to a week and can make for a convenient healthy meal option for the health-minded student looking to add more vegetables to their diet.

Friday nights with friends in a cramped dorm room call for some oven baked pizza and Netflix.  Mariano’s has a great selection of frozen pizza and other snacks for an affordable price. Roundy’s frozen pizza, for example, was $2.50.

 Among others on this list, Mariano’s was particularly favorable in terms of finding reasonably priced company labeled food items. Known for their freshly squeezed orange juice and quality made croissants, Mariano’s is certainly an ideal store for purchasing food items that are otherwise too expensive at places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. 

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In retrospect, walking into a grocery store with a budget of $20 was not as daunting of a task as it seemed. Perhaps the biggest hurdle of grocery shopping in college is the task of preparing and looking up prices, not the lack of funds. 

With some research and a list of essentials in hand, the art of smart shopping won’t have to require any level of expertise. Hopefully, these lists will allow you to not only save money, but to also add more variety to your diet during college.