This semester has already been off to an interesting start. For those of us on Grounds, we have watched our fellow Virginia universities bite the dust as the sheer will of Dean Groves has kept us afloat.
With the current state of the world still being purgatorial pandemic mode, it is more important — now more than ever — to optimize the amount of time spent in the grocery store. While I recognize Harris Teeter is the fan favorite among University students, I argue Costco may be the unsung hero of this crisis. As Costco is a wholesale-style store, it is the best way to stock up on the most food and keep your time spent in public to a minimum.
It is true there are other stores which function the same as Costco — Sam’s Club and Big Lots for example — but I have a soft spot for the quarter-pound hotdogs and berry smoothies one can attain in Costco’s food court. A membership is required to take advantage of such benefits, but at an annual price of $60, it’s hard to make an argument against procuring one.
There are, however, a few items which stand out above the rest — items I find worthy enough to warrant an individual trip to the holy ground. While this article is written with an audience of optimizing college students in mind — I implore all persons who have opted to take classes at home this semester to continue reading as these things could also benefit a family who doesn’t desire to spend an exorbitant amount of time in public.
Perdue 10 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
That’s right. The humble chicken breast — endlessly customizable in all its glory — is one of the most worthwhile purchases possible at Costco. One may wonder how 10 pounds of chicken can be worthwhile as they will go bad by the time they can be eaten. I have one answer for you — frozen.
Perdue’s bag of breasts has been the saving grace of my college dinners since second year when I realized protein was hard to come by without a meal plan. Defrosting chicken every time you want to make dinner may sound like a hassle, but I promise a little pre-meal planning makes it no more hassle than preheating the oven.
The best part of all this chicken is it is only $25. For a price which gets you two meals at the Virginian, you can have the basis for many more meals. And with the ever increasing cost of attending the University — there’s no need to spend so much on food.
Royal Basmati Rice, 20 lbs
$21 will buy you a lot of things in life, but the most useful thing to buy with it in your collegiate years is this bag of rice. The most universal of all grains, rice is the perfect side for every meal. And while 20 pounds may sound like a lot of rice — and it kind of is — this bag will likely last you the remainder of your time at the University.
Akin to ramen, rice has been the college student's friend for as long as any of us can remember. A key difference between the two is the nutritional value. While it is true that rice doesn’t hold the title of healthiest food, it will fill your stomach with the same caliber ramen does with none of the heart-stopping sodium.
Another reason rice would be a wise purchase is because it can be made practically anywhere. From stovetop to microwave — even first-years have the ability to cook rice with such limited dorm room utensils.
Food Court and Sample Stations
Eating out anywhere in this day and age is something that not all of us have warmed up to, and something some restaurants still won’t allow. Although Costco isn’t known as an eatery, one of the things that makes a membership worthwhile is the food court and sample stations throughout the store. Those in charge of the store have given the foremost thought to how eating in the store must change to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Costco is well known for handing out samples of the newest products for customers to try as they shop, and that is still the case amidst a pandemic. Where there were once lines of patrons, there are lines of tape six feet apart on the floor in front of each sampling station. Each sample is put into individual servings which are spread out enough to avoid cross contamination. There are sanitizer bottles at each section at which shoppers are required to sanitize before grabbing a sample.
Shopping can work up an appetite, and the food court was once the go-to for after-shopping snacking. While ready-made food is still available at Costco, you are no longer able to sit down and enjoy it, as the food court tables have been removed. In its stead, the food court counter has opted to put all food into carry out containers to be eaten at the discretion of the member.
When it’s all said and done, the most important thing is to reduce the risk as much as possible when venturing out into public. Costco is my go-to is because they have been on top of their mask and sanitation game since the pandemic started, and their hardcore crackdown on people who violate safety measures allows me to have a mind at ease as I shop. Wherever you are and however you buy groceries, stay safe, stay fed and have a great semester.