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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rising food costs call for creative shopping

    As the price of food rises, students may find their wallets pinched and their cost-saving strategies coming up short.

    Companies have tried to offset their higher shipping costs by selling smaller packages for the same cost, an Associated Press analysis shows, which takes a bite out of any student’s wallet.

    This year it’s gotten more expensive to eat out, said George Frisvold, an agricultural and resource economics professor. “”But it’s also gotten more expensive to eat at home too.””

    But when it comes to eating out or eating in, a home-cooked meal can take anyone’s wallet a long way. Local experts say grocery stores offer the best deals.

    Grocery stores

    “”One of the things that most studies have found is that big suburban grocery stores tend to have lower prices than smaller mom-and-pop places,”” Frisvold said.

    But even at the supermarket, students must watch their choices.

    “”It’s not necessarily cheaper if you buy … the frozen entrees that are already prepared and you just pop them in the microwave,”” said Gary Thompson, department head of agricultural and resource economics.

    Danielle Johnson, a math education senior, emphasizes the importance of deal shopping at the grocery store to avoid high costs.

    “”Instead of going into the grocery store with specific things on mind, I just go for what’s on sale,”” she said. Johnson added, “”If it’s not on sale, I just don’t buy it.””

    Frisvold says shifting prices can hurt students’ budgets.

    “”Produce prices jump up and down a lot,”” he said. “”And if you have a narrow range of things you eat, (then) when those prices spike you’re vulnerable.””

    Almost every supermarket has some sort of club card to help consumers save money, though.

    “”You’re crazy not to (use it),”” Frisvold said. “”You ever look at what the prices are if you don’t (use a club card)?””

    Convenience stores

    Smaller markets, including the U-Mart, tend to have higher prices than the local supermarket.

    David Galbraith, director of Dining Services, said the U-Mart “”cannot compete with grocery stores.””

    Some campus businesses have fallen victim to shipping costs.

    “”Everybody is tacking on fuel surcharges, almost on every (shipment) invoice,”” said Kristi Van Os, office specialist senior for Dining Services.

    Some students may find it difficult to make buy groceries and cook meals, Johnson said. They “”don’t have time to make their own stuff,”” she said.

    Thompson said eating in is cheaper, but “”a lot of people don’t know how to cook.””

    A U.S. Department of Agriculture study examining generational effects found that “”college students are less likely to prepare meals at home,”” Frisvold said.

    For those who lack time, a car or the culinary skills for a home cooked meal, eating out is really the only option.

    “”What’s hard for students is time, and time’s a premium,”” Frizvold said. “”And people tend to eat fast food – and it’s more expensive.””

    Choices

    But even with higher costs in today’s economy, students’ choices will affect their spending.

    “”Depending on how you shop, you can get cheaper stuff,”” Frisvold said. “”Dasani is more expensive than Coke, but tap water is cheaper than both them.””

    Real penny pinchers can visit the Community Food Bank, on Country Club Road, where they can buy food in bulk, Frisvold said.

    “”The Community Food Bank sells stuff at a 30 to 70 percent discount,”” he said.

    “”It’s available to anyone,”” Frisvold added. “”If you’re a student stocking up, it’s not a bad place to look.””

    – Lauren LePage contributed to this article.

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