Let’s talk about the economy for a change, because even though signs of recovery can be seen here and there (I have seen a few jobs for bilingual Chinese/English speakers, which makes me 2/3 qualified for those), Missouri isn’t exactly leading in recovery rate. As money gets tighter, it is good to realize you can only spend every dollar once. For example, shopping at certain grocery stores will absolutely help you run your budget an extra mile. Thankfully, some companies are more than willing to help you save. Whole Foods, for example, has a ‘back-to-college’ diet, a strategy that kills two birds with one stone, as college students live in a perpetual state of financial crisis anyway. And they might even keep some customers otherwise looking for other options, because the only people that normally combine the concept of saving money on groceries with shopping at Whole Foods, are the people working at the Whole Foods marketing department. But let’s give them a fair chance.
I like budgets, and as I was saving up for my Missouri travels, my college diet was pretty simple. Once a week, I made a giant meal of pasta or rice, ate 1/5 of it and dumped the other portions in the freezer, lasting those portions for two weeks, because I switched between the rice and pasta meals, and also ate with others now and then, or at my parents’. For breakfast I had some yogurt with the cheapest cereal I could find (Aldi) and some fruit, and for lunch I packed a few sandwiches. For drinks, I had coffee ($.22 per small mug) and water (free). But me and my open mind are anxious to see how Whole Foods can convince me otherwise.
Actually, they also start the day with yogurt and cereal. We’re off to a great start. Maybe their cereal is a little more expensive, but I’m sure it’s also healthier. But before we get to celebrating, let’s see what else is in their lunch box: string cheese, frozen meals, deli meats, and nut or seed butters (their $8.99 sesame tahini has ‘big savings’ written all over it). To clarify their frozen meals, an other brochure will tell you they do indeed mean the ready-made ones you find in the frozen meal aisles. How about snacks? Well, to be fair, I’m no expert here. I didn’t use to snack, but ate my lunch sandwiches spread throughout the day and had a bottle of water at all times. Don’t despair though. With Whole Foods, you don’t have to look so cheap. Consider the following options for snack and drink time: fruit strips, nutrient-enhanced water, coconut water, energy drinks, soy crisps, granola bars, and best of all: soy, rice, hemp, coconut, or almond milk. Their college shopping list goes on to include cleaning supplies and personal hygiene, two categories that in my experience blend very well when you just turn your 2-in-1 shampoo and body wash into a dish detergent.
Of course, college life is bound to have more to tackle than just crazy snacks and weird drinks to substitute the tap water that comes at no extra charge. Not to worry, Whole Foods has got you covered. As they say, ‘When you’re constantly running to class or study groups, accidents and little things are bound to happen.’ One look at the list of provided remedies gives an accurate idea of what exactly can happen when you walk from one class to another:
- Multivitamins: because we wouldn’t want to contract scurvy just before your exam is about to happen.
- Arnica gel: when walking on campus gets your body strained, you should have been walking more in the first place.
- Astragalus: to battle that psychology major sneezing in everyone’s face as a field study.
- Real Aloe Vera gel: skipping class should not come with the punishment of sun burn.
Maybe the American college experience is miles apart from the Dutch one, but I can’t help thinking that Whole Foods is over complicating life at least a little. If you want to save on snacks, not snacking is an excellent strategy. If your milk sounds like a medical treatment for celebrities doing a cleanse, maybe you should just have a beer instead. And for thousands of years, water without added nutrients has helped mankind stay put. As much as I like organic food, I think Whole Foods has gotten out of college a little confused.