One of the first signs that you’re becoming an adult and living on your own is making your first homemade meal. Although this isn’t the most tedious task, there are a few difficulties that come with it, like learning how to effectively shop for groceries.
For all Penn State students who are new to apartment life or don’t have the luxury of swiping themselves a Findlay salad anymore, grocery shopping is a whole new world that can be hard to master.
The first trip to the grocery store that you take in college comes with a ton of freedom. Yes, you can easily buy a whole box of Lucky Charms AND a sleeve of Oreos because your Mom isn’t around, but what becomes tricky is buying produce.
Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment you get while leaving McLanahan’s with bags filled with fruits and vegetables, but there is a feeling of defeat you’ll get when your bananas have turned brown and your avocados are basically guacamole.
You have limited time to use these healthy foods you buy, so VALLEY is here with tips on how to preserve them!
Shop Lighter and Smarter
Walking into a grocery store with an appetite and some LionCash can feel like Christmas morning, but it can also be a recipe for disaster.
Buying $30 worth of produce sounds like a great idea when you’re hungry and have a free schedule, but when you’re cramming for exams, McDonald’s will begin to sound like your most practical option.
The key to shopping effectively is buying items that you know you will use within a five-day period, which means maybe not buying an entire bag of grapes and go for a cup instead. Fruits and vegetables are very time-sensitive: if you don’t use them within a few days, they’ll become a meal for the fruit flies that live in your apartment.
It’s all the rage for eating healthy right now, and it could save you an extra GrubHub order. Meal prep is an easy way to use your groceries almost immediately and a quick way to eat cleaner.
Liz Cavan, a sophomore at Penn State, says that she has found that meal prepping has helped her adjust to her apartment lifestyle. “I like to prepare meals in the beginning of the week at school because it saves time and allows me to eat a lot healthier,” said Cavan. “It also saves money because I won’t be wasting it on take-out food if I’m too busy to cook.”
Although you’ll have to take some time out of your day to prepare these meals, they’ll be easily accessible for the rest of the week, especially when you find yourself extremely busy and only have time to microwave. Of course, all of the food you recently bought at the store will be instantly put to good use.
Meal prep is also a great excuse to scroll through Pinterest for recipe inspiration!
Use Ziploc Bags and Plastic Containers
Although the fruit you recently bought is making a great centerpiece for the island in your kitchen, researchers say that keeping food in a Ziploc bag or plastic container can extend the shelf life at least three days longer.
These bags and containers can be found at almost all food stores in State College, and are very cost effective because they are reusable. So instead of dropping your grocery bags and moving on to your next task of the day, take the time to wash your produce and put them in a bag or container. Your bank account will thank you!
Have any tips for those new to food shopping? Tweet us at @ValleyMag and share some ideas!