Grocery shopping on a budget

College presents students with the opportunity to learn a variety of skills beyond academics.  Most college students learn how to grocery shop on a budget.  

In order to grocery shop on a budget, one must learn where to shop and what to buy. It is important to know where local grocery stores are and which have the lowest prices with quality produce to effectively make use of a small budget.

“For me, it is easiest to shop at Safeway,” said junior, Alicia Pieper. “It is really close to campus, has some good prices, has everything I need and I really like that it has self-checkout.” 

Safeway or Vons are all over California and a lot of Sonoma State University students have them in their hometown.  All of these stores have a similar layout, which can make it more comfortable for students to shop. 

Another grocery store that is similar to Safeway is Raley’s.  Raley’s is located right behind Safeway, off Rohnert Park Expressway. Although some of their name brand foods can be more expensive, their Raley’s brand-name food is similar to prices of Safeway. Raley’s also has a weekly deal they call “$5 Monday.”

“College students can benefit from $5 Mondays because a lot of the things on sale include produce and frozen food, which I’m sure they buy a lot of,” said Assad, a cashier at Raley’s who wanted to keep his first name anonymous. 

One of the most inexpensive stores in this area is Trader Joe’s, located in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.  Although it is a little bit more of a drive than the previously named grocery stores, their produce is fresh, local and cheap. 

 What makes it so cheap is that most of its products are under the Trader Joe’s brand name.  Trader Joe’s has a large variety of vegetarian options and organic foods. They also have a large frozen food section, which college students who have busy schedules or do not want to cook can take advantage of. 

If students at Sonoma State are looking for a natural food store, Oliver’s is the way to go. 

 Located just down the street from the college on East Cotati Blvd, it is a convenient way to shop after a long day of classes.  Oliver’s is a little on the expensive side, but their food is local and healthy.  

Oliver’s is set apart from other grocery stores because they have a sandwich and burrito delicatessen.  Along with a soup and salad bar, pre-packaged sushi and a café with healthy fruit smoothies. These are all fitting options for students who want to get something quick.

“I love that Oliver’s has ready-to-eat dinners,” said junior, Christiana Ratto. “They are quick and easy, but they are healthier than your average microwavable meal.” 

Costco is probably less used by college students. When it is used by students, it can be very cost effective because their produce comes in bulk. However, if roommates are comfortable with sharing food and making meals together it is the perfect way to grocery shop.

“We [my roomates and I]go to Costco every two weeks and split the cost between the four of us,” said senior, Christiana Thomas. “It has saved us a tremendous amount of money by buying groceries in bulk and making meals together.” 

With the abundance of grocery stores in the Rohnert Park area it can be overwhelming for Sonoma State students to find how to get the most out of their buck.  

Regardless of where students grocery shop, the most important things to remember while on a budget are to shop local, make a list and look out for good deals.