People often say that food is something that brings people together, and so far, it’s definitely been something that has brought our house together rather quickly! During the shore component with SEA, our class is split between three houses, and the members of each house are responsible for figuring out food. Each house is given a budget, which means in practice we each get gift cards loaded with our weekly allotted amount for a local grocery store.
We received our first week’s gift cards on arrival day, and the first thing we did after orientation was go grocery shopping as a house. To be completely honest, I was rather nervous about the food situation – everyone I know has such different tastes, and I’ve never tried coordinating meals with other people, especially large groups of people I’ve just met. On our first grocery run, we spent ~$270 of our allotted budget of ~$450, and were feeling pretty good about our purchases. The shopping cart was overflowing, and I was sure that the food should surely last through most of the week.
Well, turns out it didn’t – we were out of most staple foods by Sunday evening. Now we were pretty wary of food prices, considering we now only had ~$180 to get enough food to last us through the rest of the week. We started a spreadsheet for everyone to add shopping list items to and went back to the store with a massive list of requested food, nervous about what we’d be able to buy with what we had left.
During this trip to the store, we paid much closer attention to the prices of different options and were more deliberate about the items we picked out. Large bag of potatoes for a few bucks? Good deal! A single bell pepper for $1.50? Maybe that can wait till next week. After we got all the items we deemed critical on the list, we pulled our full cart into the awkwardly tiny self-checkout station just in case we needed to put items back. Item after item was scanned, and we watched in anticipation as the total climbed. After the last item was scanned, the total ended up being a modest $90, much below the $180 we had entered the store with. Since the store was pretty quiet (it was a Sunday night, after all), we went back and added in all the things we had skipped on our list one at a time. At the end of the night, we made it back to the house with ~$25 to spare! We’ll see how long the food lasts now, considering we’re already out of bananas again and it’s only been a day….
Last night, my house and I reflected on our experiences so far and were shocked by the realization that it’s only been 4 days, yet it seems like so much had already happened and we already felt so close as a community. Food probably had at least something to do with it. Speaking of food, I’m signing off now to go prep for dinner – we’re having spaghetti tonight!
Amy Phung, B House, Olin College of Engineering