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It’s back-to-school time! The best time of the year! Okay, maybe not really, but school starting means we are only a couple months away from autumn and that really is the best time of the year. I, for one, cannot wait until I can wear scarves and boots again.

I’m sure you have seen plenty of back-to-school, dorm room essentials, classroom necessities, and similar lists. I love these lists and they have definitely helped me prepare for school, but what I really care about is the food. Food is essentially to life and happiness. I love food. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 essential groceries you need for back-to-school. Also, because I care about all you lovely ladies, I have included healthier (perhaps not technically “healthy” but definitely not so bad) options. Read on for your food needs!

Ramen: This is college, after all. Ramen is super easy to make and super cheap. These are the only two things that really matter in college. The little pack of noodles is also incredibly versatile and taste even better with a dash of sesame oil or soy sauce. Healthier option: Look for the low-sodium versions. They aren’t healthy, but you will feel less bloated after eating them.

Easy Mac: This is essentially the cheesy version of Ramen all the same lovable qualities seen above apply here as well. Healthier option: Once again, a low-sodium version. Or try Annie’s Organics. They still aren’t quite healthy, but they do have less processed ingredients.

Fruits and Veggies: This is a no-brainer, really. You’ve got to keep yourself healthy somehow. My favorite is apples—they are tasty and easy to eat between classes. Look for Gala apples; they are the best! Money saving option: See what the dining center has to offer. Often, they will let you take a few extras with you on your way out.

Cereal: Another versatile option, cereal doesn’t have to be for just breakfast. It works well when you pack a bag for in your class and as a late-night snack. Healthier option: Look for whole wheat. Make sure you check the ingredient list, though, as some labels can be misleading.

Water: It is so super easy to get dehydrated when you are running around between classes all day. Make sure you stay hydrated by always having some water around. (Earth) Healthier option: Get a reusable water bottle and fill up at the hydration stations around campus. Or, you know, a water fountain.

Granola bars: Toss a few of these into your backpack and you are set. I always keep at least two in my bag, more if I know that I am going to be missing a meal. Healthier option: Try a KIND bar. They can be weird at first (whole nuts? Yuck!) but they are so much better for you and they will keep you fill longer. If you are iffy about trying them, start with one that has chocolate in it.

Chips: Nothing is better to eat mindlessly than chips. But you really shouldn’t be eating anything mindlessly. A good option is to buy the smaller bags and limit yourself to one at a time. That way you don’t actually eat an entire bag of chips while bingeing on Netflix. Healthier option: Low-sodium, once again!

Popcorn: Popcorn is so good and easy to make. And, if you get the butter free version, it can actually be healthy for you. Just make sure that you don’t burn them. Some people are just unable to cook popcorn without burning some of the kernels or leaving half the bag un-popped. I may be one of these people. Healthier option: Go for less butter and sodium. Try it without any—it is actually pretty good. But lower sodium, less butter options are also better.

Something to drink: Many people will buy a twelve-pack of soda, which is great if you like soda. Try getting some on sale, when you can buy three or four at a time and save money. Healthier option: Try tea. Unsweetened tea is a beautiful thing. Or you can just have water. As long as you are keeping your body hydrated.

Ice cream: Trust me, you’re gonna need it. And you might as well go all out!

Those are my 10 essentials for back-to-school groceries. These will get you through a long day of classes and a long night of Netflix. But really, let’s talk more about how lovely fall is. Happy back-to-school!

We want to know your back-to-school grocery needs! Share with me @ana_berkovich and tag #UChic to share ideas or leave us a comment below.

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