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My Favorite Ardmore Grocery Finds for Philly-Area Students

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bryn Mawr chapter.

As a college student, you’ve probably been advised more than once to stick to your college meal plan to save time and money, but it’s not always realistic for a student. Dining hall hours can be inconsistent with when you’re used to having meals. Most of my friends are used to starting their dinners late in the evenings. Sometimes your classes don’t sync up with the lunch hours, or the meal doesn’t fit into your routine. And sometimes you’re just not in the mood to eat anything offered in the dining hall. Feelings like these are completely normal, and it’s fine to deviate from the typical routine of dining hall meals. But rather than eating out, you can satisfy yourself with food you truly like and save money if you stock up on groceries. There are legitimate strategies for finding good food off-campus that have the most value for your spending. At Trader Joe’s, you can find low prices with high quantity and quality, and most of the snack necessities a college student craves, and the Ardmore Farmer’s Market (more like a grocery store than a market) is truly a delight when it comes to finding all types of foods.


    Typically, Trader Joe’s is the cheapest place in the area for finding delicious and low-cost snacks, and I always love a good Saturday morning trip to Ardmore. It’s a great motivation to get off campus and enjoy the day before I spend the rest of the day in Park or Canaday doing homework. I love to stock up on all snacks and beverages that I know I can’t find at the dining hall but that will make my day infinitely better to have at arm’s reach in the dorm. 

    Of course, getting cold brew for my dorm is a priority. What I love about buying cold brew is that I can store it for as long as I want, so I never feel stressed about finishing it by a certain date. I usually buy two 32 oz bottles a week (it sounds like a lot, but one 8oz cup of iced coffee is small!) At Trader Joes, one can of medium roast cold brew is 8 oz for $2, so effectively 4 oz per dollar. But one large 32 oz bottle is only $5.50, which means you’re getting 5.8 oz per dollar, and much more coffee. Always run the numbers at the grocery stores. All you need is the calculator app on your phone! Taking the extra time to figure out the best deals is such a valuable life skill to have, and it helps to start learning now rather than later.

    Next, I like to grab fruit for my mini fridge. I have to be more careful here since they could potentially go bad before I finish all of them. I try to switch up the types of fruit each week depending on my mood, and what I think I’m most likely to snack on in the dorm. Some weeks it’s every type of berry I can get my hands on, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Other weeks it’s clementines and apples. Occasionally I’ll grab a mango, but that’s a rare occurrence because I must feel courageous enough to cut it with the sole butter knife my friend gifted me from IKEA. I also love to bring my fruit with me to the dining hall for breakfast as an addition to the oatmeal, yogurt or pancakes I grab as my main food. 

    Thanks to a cheese-plate-themed Galentine’s Day dinner I had a few weeks ago with my besties, I’ve developed an obsession with Trader Joe’s cheese. I am a huge cheese lover, but the Trader Joe’s honey goat cheese is absolutely my favorite. It can go on crackers, baguettes, toast, salads, or you can just bring it to the dining hall and add it to your main meal. It pairs well at breakfast with fruit, or at lunchtime with a salad or sandwich. I could go on all day about cheese plates, but I’ll save that for another day. Definitely check out this goat cheese, and Trader Joe’s varieties of cheddar, gouda, and mozzarella. 

    Ardmore Farmer’s market

    While I can get some great deals at Trader Joe’s, I know my Saturday grocery run isn’t complete until I stop at the Ardmore Farmer’s Market. It’s fun to just venture inside and appreciate the energetic buzz everywhere from the sushi station to the bakery. The first thing I like to grab is a few plain yogurt cups for my room. I know, it sounds incredibly boring and bitter. But I cannot stress the importance of having the right toppings. If you know how to dress it up, it’s delicious. For my toppings, I like having cinnamon, fruits, nuts, chia/flax seeds, granola and sometimes peanut butter. On that note, I’ll say that I usually stock up on walnuts, shaved almonds, pecans, and peanut butter from ACME, but you can probably find the same items in Ardmore too. 

    Those are the main items for my typical grocery routine, but each week is still a little different since I get one or two unique items. In the fall, I liked to get a new fall-themed delicacy each week. Some weeks I bought mini bottles of apple cider. Other weeks I bought pumpkin jam or apple cinnamon jelly. Now that it’s March, those options are long gone, but I still like to switch up the routine by getting something different. A few weeks ago I bought Grade A maple syrup that I brought to the dining hall for weekend brunches. I didn’t technically get anything like that this weekend, but I was also gifted lots of food for my dorm! I got half a dozen UpRyes bagels (which I am still working through), and two small bottles of Natalie’s Orange Juice which I shared with my friend on the way to class. It was delicious, so I may have to add it to my regular grocery list from now on!

    I love grocery shopping on the weekends because it’s a way for me to take care of myself physically and mentally, by having a nice outing and guaranteeing that I have food to keep me happy and full. It’s important to me that I have snacks that give me energy and nutrients, but are still foods I crave and enjoy eating. Above all, I think it’s important to have a mix of dining hall meals and dorm dinners from groceries. Having this balance allows you to have a little more autonomy over your eating schedule and how it aligns with the rest of your responsibilities as well (like class or meetings). It’s still good to stick to the dining hall when it’s feasible for you because you don’t want to drain your entire monthly spending budget on food alone. Once again, always look out for the best deals!

    Catherine Kirk

    Bryn Mawr '26

    Hello! My name is Catie (she/her) and I'm a freshman at Bryn Mawr. I'm undecided but considering a major in biophysics and a minor in journalism. In my free time I love to read fiction and poetry, play guitar, go for a run, and explore new places and restaurants with my friends!