Buying groceries on a college budget can be difficult for even the financially savviest of students. On average, college students spend around $410 a month on groceries, according to Education Initiative Data. That breaks down to a little over $100 a week. In Oregon specifically, the average is $269, which breaks down to around $67 per week to be spent on groceries.

Since moving to Eugene and learning to grocery shop as cost-effective as possible, Trader Joe’s has been my go-to place to buy groceries. I’m going to break down some of my favorite things to buy at Trader Joe’s and show you how to get a basket full of groceries for under $67 a month.



4 Cheese Ravioli - $2.99

I don’t know about you, but I love Trader Joe’s ravioli. From their four cheese to their lemon and ricotta, you better believe I’ve got a few packages of ravioli in my basket each Trader Joe’s visit. These ravioli have about two servings per package, which are perfect for students who like to pack up their leftovers to be eaten on campus for lunch.


Chicken Gyoza Potstickers - $3.99

If you haven’t tried these potstickers I encourage you to do so. These frozen potstickers are the perfect midday snack when you’re looking for an easy-to-make meal. These bags come with about four to six servings of potstickers, depending on how many you eat per serving, which should be enough to last throughout the week.


Beef Birria - $7.99

This is one of Trader Joe’s newest products, and I jumped with excitement when I finally got my hands on a package. Grab a small pack of corn tortillas, and you’ve got yourself some juicy birria tacos that will leave you coming back for more.


Hash Browns - $2.49

Hash browns are one of my favorite breakfast foods, and it’s easy to indulge when Trader Joe’s sells them for so cheap! For $2.49, you can buy 10 small hash brown patties that are the perfect breakfast for students that are on the go. I love popping my hashbrowns into the toaster oven so they’re nice and crispy before enjoying them on my walk to campus.



Roasted Garlic & Pesto Pizza - $5.99

Of all the Trader Joe’s pizzas and flatbreads, this one is by far my favorite. This pizza is a great option for students looking for an easy lunch or dinner, and still have some leftovers to be eaten later. Plus if you’re a fan of garlic like I am, you’re definitely going to enjoy this pizza!


Mini Chicken Tacos - $5.99

Mini Chicken Tacos are the perfect option for students who need a fast snack. Pop them in the microwave for a minute, and you have a plate filled with bite-sized snacks. If you’ve got more time than anticipated, throw them in the oven and enjoy some crispy tacos.


Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese - $2.99

Another great option for a ready-to-go meal that just needs to be heated up. Of course, you can always buy a box of mac and cheese, but it doesn’t compare to the spiced-up hatch chile mac & cheese. Add it to your basket and thank me later.


Mandarin Orange Chicken - $4.99

Why spend money at Panda Express when you can make your own orange chicken for half the price? These orange chicken bags have about four4 servings in them that are great to put on top of some rice and veggies for a DIY bowl.


Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kit - $3.99

Who doesn’t love a premade salad kit? Trader Joe’s has so many different salad kits from Caesars to Southwest BBQ, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Salad kits are great for students who don’t want to pay for the individual ingredients but still want delicious salads.


Pappardelle Pasta - $2.49

If you haven’t had this pasta before, you should definitely add it to your list. This pasta is fast cooking, inexpensive and comes with about 4 servings in each package which will last you throughout the week.


Trader Joe’s Italian Pastas - $0.99

How can you argue with $0.99 pasta? You can’t. I always make sure to stock up on pasta every time I visit Trader Joe’s because of its amazing prices. 


Organic French Rolls - $2.29

These little bread rolls are perfect for elevating your sandwiches. Whether you’re cooking up some chicken or steak, add in a little arugula and your favorite sauce, and you’ve got a delicious sandwich.


Organic Tri-Color Bell Peppers - $4.99

I love buying these bell pepper packages and cutting them up to add to my salad or sauteing them for some tacos or fajitas. Either way, these bell peppers are super versatile and delicious!


Organic Petite Potato Medley - $3.49

These colorful potatoes are perfect for roasting in the oven. Just cover them with a hefty amount of salt, rosemary and red pepper flakes with a generous amount of olive oil and cook them in the oven at 400° for 30 minutes, and you’ll have savory roasted potatoes.


Organic Free Range Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - $6.99/lb

You can’t go wrong with some chicken breasts. Season your chicken with your favorite spices and roast in the oven for some juicy chicken breast that will work with any side like potatoes or sauteed veggies.


Joe-Joe’s - $4.29

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t include something sweet and tasty. Joe-Joe’s might just be the best thing to come from Trader Joe’s all together, and I highly recommend keeping an eye out for some of their seasonal Joe-Joe’s flavors.


Grand total = $66.94

Even if only a few of these products pique your interest, adding them to your grocery list is not something you’ll regret! I encourage everyone to stop by Trader Joe’s and give some of their wonderful products a try and see how you can get the most for your money!

Opinion Columnist

Lauren is an opinion columnist for the Daily Emerald. She is a third-year advertising student at UO. She is a Bay Area native with a strong passion for healthy food, digital art and creative writing.