College Student Food Guide: Cheap, Easy, and (Relatively) Healthy | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

College Student Food Guide: Cheap, Easy, and (Relatively) Healthy

Where to find everything from basic grocery items to grub on the go

College is stressful enough without deciding where to eat next, and the lack of grocery stores in college neighborhoods doesn’t make it easier. Thanks to some helpful students, and additional research, City Paper compiled a list of restaurants, drug stores, and other places to find healthy, affordable meal options. 


When dining out in college, it can be economical to eat somewhere with large portions you can save for later, like a hamster storing seeds in its cheeks.

 “I normally get Chinese at [Szechuan Express] because it’s cheap and relatively good. … It’s either there or Chipotle because they’re relatively cheaper. I can save my leftovers for later on.” – Zuri Kent-Smith

Chipotle Mexican Grill (4611 Forbes Ave. or 3615 Forbes Ave., Oakland)

Szechuan Express (125 Oakland Ave., Oakland) - Kent-Smith recommends the Shrimp Pad Thai ($6.50-6.75)

Moe's Southwest Grill (210 Forbes Ave., Downtown)

Hello Bistro (292 Forbes Ave., Downtown)


When there aren’t any grocery stores nearby, drugstores can fill in the gaps with dry goods and snacks. They even have milk, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

“I’ll go to Rite Aid to get my bread and peanut butter and jelly or eggs.” – Zuri Kent-Smith

Rite Aid (Locations in Oakland, Downtown, Squirrel Hill)

“Most [Point Park] students try to run to CVS if they need something desperately.” - Kaylee Kearns

CVS (Locations in Oakland, Downtown)

Walgreens (5956 Centre Ave. #4, Shadyside)

Grocery (walking distance)

Neither Oakland nor Downtown have full-service grocery stores, but there are smaller marts that have produce, meats, and other foods that make a fridge look like it belongs to a functioning human.

Pitt students often shop at Groceria Merante and Las Palmas, recognizing the latter has been hit with multiple food-code violations.

“Their produce is really excellent and affordable though, and the owners are lovely. You can tell they love the students and want to provide for us as much as possible.” - Samantha Bastress 

Groceria Merante (3454 Bates St., Oakland)

Las Palmas (326 Atwood St., Oakland)

Grocery (bus or car)

For a lot of students in the area, grocery stores are only accessible by bus, which is easier to manage than it sounds. Just don’t be the kid whacking everyone on the head with a loaf of bread while walking down the aisle. The 71A and 71C buses take shoppers close to Market District and Aldi. The 75 bus heads to Trader Joe’s. And 61 buses travel to Squirrel Hill. For South Oaklanders, the 93 bus will take riders to Squirrel Hill via Boulevard of the Allies.

Aldi (Locations in Friendship, Bloomfield, and South Side)

Giant Eagle-Squirrel Hill (1901 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill)

Market District-Shadyside (5550 Centre Ave., Shadyside)

Trader Joe’s (6343 Penn Ave., East Liberty)

Whole Foods (5880 Centre Ave., Shadyside)

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