What’s on the list?

An in-depth report on University of Chicago students' grocery shopping habits.

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Here’s what UChicago students at Treasure Island—aka America’s most European supermarket—had to say about their shopping habits:

 

Rohan Sharma, ’14

What’s this in your basket here?

Sharma: It’s Propel fitness water. It’s a relic, really. I haven’t seen it in stores for so long! And the bottle shape used to always get me. They’ve changed it but it’s still very aesthetically pleasing.

Do you shop with a budget?

Sharma: Uh, yeah. But I’m willing to splurge on Propel, actually. No but I actually do really like Propel. The orange flavor is my favorite but they only have peach … oh! Yeah! They do have mandarin orange. [Writer’s note: This interview took place next to the Propel display.]

What’s your budget?

Sharma: I like to keep it under 15 dollars.

A week?!

Sharma: I mean, I only make sandwiches for lunch.

Where does your other food come from?

Sharma: Uh, when we moved into our apartment, it was full of food. So I’ve had a very easy time feeding myself.

 

Frank Qian, ’14

Do you shop with a budget?

Qian: Um, kind of.

What’s your estimate?

Qian: Usually under 100 dollars for every week.

Do you buy pretty much the same thing every week?

Qian: Usually, I mean, I’ll buy cereal, juice, eggs.

What do you normally splurge on? Is there anything you buy that isn’t really necessary but you buy it anyway?

I don’t think so. These are kind of unnecessary, I guess [picking up the Healthy Choice frozen dinner]. It’s mainly for when I don’t feel like cooking.

It looks like you eat pretty healthy for a college student.

Qian: [laughs] That’s right, yeah.

 

Patrick Mucerino, ’15

Do you shop on a budget?

Mucerino: ... No. Not really.

How often do you go grocery shopping?

Mucerino: Probably once every couple of weeks. I eat out a good amount as well, so it’s kind of like a mix.

When you go shopping, do you just pick whatever you see, on a whim, or do you generally pick the same things every time?

So usually I pick out what I want to eat for dinner, or if I’m going to make something, then I’ll go. I also check to see if I need more bread, or more milk, general stuff. There’s a couple things I usually go for—like the hummus I always buy, but I got guacamole this time. Stuff like that, otherwise it’s usually picking out for a meal.

Is there anything you tend to splurge on? Anything fancy?

Mucerino: Cheese. I looove cheese. I do definitely splurge on cheese.

 

Sherraine Ashley, ’14; Grace Fauquet, ’14; Tamara Kawadri, ’14

Do you guys always go shopping together?

Kawadri: No. [Writer’s note: See Kawadri’s shopping cart below.]

Ashley: Well Grace and I always do. Cause we’re roommates.

Kawadri: I always go alone.

[Everyone laughs]

Kawadri: Not with [my roommate] Matt. Just alone.

So you don’t live with them?

Kawadri: No.

Do you guys shop on a budget?

Ashley: No.

Fauquet: Uh, I mean ... no.

Kawadri: Yeah, I shop for around 30-35 a week.

How often do you go grocery shopping?

Kawadri: Once a week.

Fauquet: It’s like, a week and a half.

Ashley: Typically, whenever we run out of the essentials.

So it’s not that regular?

Ashley: No.

I see you have a lot of Greek yogurt. Is this typical?

Ashley: I don’t wake up in the morning in enough time to eat breakfast, so the last time we went shopping I had the bright idea of getting yogurt. And then it’s pretty much whichever one is on sale.

Fauquet: Yeah, I’m just attracted to ten for ten deals.

Do you guys buy the same thing every time you go shopping?

Fauquet: Lately it’s been on a whim.

Ashley: Typically, I need a starch, and then I need a meat product for dinner, but I haven’t cooked any of the meat I bought last time so I didn’t buy that. And then juice. I buy lots of juice. I don’t like water.

Is there anything you guys splurge on?

Ashley: Goat cheese. It’s not bad for you, but it tastes awesome!

Kawadri: I don’t really splurge on anything, no. But like maybe cheese, which looks expensive, but then you can use it so many times. Like one little thing of feta cheese lasts me like, three weeks. When you look at the value of it, I don’t really splurge on anything.

Fauquet: I bought some pickles today, that was exciting.

 

Observations:

  • Nary a bag of ramen in sight.
  • College students really love cheese. (OK, this may be universal.)
  • Budgets? Well, sometimes ... maybe ... sort of.
  • Propel: It’s a relic.

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