Build your own sandwich: It’s cheaper

May 20, 2019 — by Kevin Sze

Going to a grocery store and buying fresh, organic produce is a cheaper way to do lunch.

When the amazing Lifestyles section editors suggested a story idea of comparing lunch on versus off campus, I quickly signed up. As an experienced food connoisseur, I was more than willing to provide a comprehensive report on the best food options.

The rules are simple: spend a week going off campus and figure out how to minimize cost to maximize value.

I am proud to say I have figured out a way to get the best bang for your buck.

The best way to get food for the cheapest price is undoubtedly Safeway. Upperclassmen constantly ridicule the local grocery store, but I discovered that buying ingredients for a meal and then making it yourself is a better deal as opposed to paying for overpriced, over-glorified premade food.

Junior George Bian introduced me to this next level strategy, but I’ve refined it to perfection.

Step 1: Grab a buddy. Or three. Or five. It needs to be an even number, counting yourself, because there are so many discounts when you buy two boxes of lunch/deli meats instead of one. Also, you can sing in the car with your friends, and if your friend drives, you can save gas money!

Step 2: Buy an avocado. Divide the number of people you have by two, and then get that many avocados. Each person only needs one half of an avocado (which is why you divide by two), and each avocado is usually $2.

Step 3: Buy lunch/deli meats. As I mentioned, there are usually some pretty good deals, along the lines of two boxes for $6.

Step 4: Buy a bagel or some sort of bread. Usually the prices range from 79 to 89 cents depending on the kind. If you’re feeling healthy, I recommend the multigrain bagel or the everything bagel. As the millennials say, it’s the bomb.

The total cost ends up around $6 per person on a day of good deals, $7 on an average day, $8 on a bad day and $9 on an even worse day (or if you took an odd number of people).

Step 5: Go to Togo’s and get a knife. Maybe a few extra knives if you have more than one person. Safeway doesn’t have plastic knives, and it’s unbelievable. So walk to Togo’s and ask the kind workers to give you a knife.

Step 6: Head back to school. Drive safe. After all, you have so much time so you really don’t have to drive crazy.

Step 7: Assemble your sandwich. Cut the bread with the knife, spread the avocado and put the lunch/deli meat into the sandwich.

Sure, this method may not be that appetizing. But as far as affordability and health, I don’t think you can match this combination.

Lunch on campus is probably the cheapest but not as delicious as the off-campus options. Portions are also smaller than what you would be getting at Safeway.

If you’re an underclassmen and can’t go off campus, I’d suggest the sandwiches in the grab and go line. They are $4, taste good, and are actually pretty filling.

Pizza is a bit pricey at $2.50 a slice, salads are not filling and not really worth the $4 for a large, and the specialty line varies but is usually not filling or worth $4 either.

Chipotle, McDonalds, Panda Express and other restaurants might seem enticing, but they’re less affordable, less healthy, or too far. Chipotle is at least $9 and it’s a bit stressful to make it back on time. McDonalds is affordable, and filling, but undoubtedly less healthy. Panda Express is at least $8 but again, it’s pretty unhealthy. Other restaurants are usually some sort of combination of the three, which is why Safeway is the best way.