What’s for Lunch?


Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, just a student sharing what I found on the SF State campus.

You’ve heard it before: “Pack your food, it’s healthier. You’ll save time and money.”

But sometimes, it’s not that simple, and packing your food doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthier or cheaper.

From a steaming bowl of pho to a sandwich with so many toppings it can hardly fold closed, SF State has a lot to offer when your stomach starts growling. So many, in fact, that it can be overwhelming – especially when you’ve only got 30 minutes, but want to make a relatively healthy and cheap choice for a meal.

So I talked to a few Gators to find out their game plan when it comes to eating while at school.

Senior Shani Winston is a food packer.

“I don’t really like the food on campus,” she said. “I like to make my own food. It feels better cooking it myself. I know where it comes from.”

Some days, Winston is on campus from the early morning until late afternoon. To her, this means packing two meals. Recently, she brought a smoothie made of strawberries, dates, an apple, and a few mint leaves to have for breakfast.

On this day, she enjoyed a vegetarian sandwich made out of eggplant, pickles, tomatoes, and basil leaves plus a small salad she had tucked away for lunch. This senior shops at the farmers’ market held in the Stonestown parking lot on Sundays. The local stands offer fresh, affordable produce, she says.

Winston’s classmate, Mercedes Flores, packs her lunch occasionally. But on this day, she chose to buy refried beans, plantains, rice, one hard boiled egg, vegetables, and tofu from Taqueria Girasol on campus. She also sipped on a glass of just-made Horchata.

She paid $7 in total.

Senior Gabrielle Matthews and junior Clarisa Hernandez said they buy food on campus some days, and pack it on others. However, since beginning jobs in the Marina District, both Matthews and Hernandez say they have had less time to pack a meal.

When their shifts are too long and the commute too far, the girls turn to burritos, also from Taqueria Girasol.

Matthews purchased both of their meals for about $5.50 each – what a great friend!

Others don’t care too much one way or the other about their on-campus meals. Their meal time grub is whatever a loved one decided to pack. Junior Norman Robles is one of these lucky gators.

On this day, he snacked on baked cucumbers with vinaigrette, and plain spaghetti with a bit of olive oil while working on assignments for class.

Robles’ homemade lunch is estimated at about $1.

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So now you’re left to decide – how much are you willing to pay for a meal? After three years at SF State, often searching for cheap, healthy food, here’s my take:

Most likely to break your bank: Gold Coast Grill

Here, meals average $9 – but don’t worry! You can always buy their plain toast for $2 – yum.

Most healthy options: Natural Sensations/Café Rosso/Taqueria Girasol

Natural Sensations offers:

–       Fresh squeezed carrot juice for $3.25/medium

–       Up to three types of soups daily for $2.95

–       Whole wheat bagels for $1.25

–       Fruit, cucumber, and Greek salads, starting at $2.75

Café Rosso offers:

 -Whole wheat, turkey and vegetarian sandwiches at a pretty decent size for $5-6


Taqueria Girasol offers:

-Fresh steamed veggies


-Black beans


-Hard-boiled eggs

-Shredded chicken breast

Most affordable across the board: Café Rosso

Café Rosso – where you can purchase a decent sized hamburger or a breakfast croissant sandwich for about $3.

But if you’ve decided there are just TOO many choices and the lines are too damn long…or maybe you just don’t give a rat’s ass one way or the other…

Then just hit The Pub for a sake shot and can of Sapporo, only $5!

Why not? School’s not doing much for you anyway, right? And textbook prices will only make you cry. After all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!