If you live off-campus (or just cannot subsist exclusively on on-campus dining options) you probably have a favorite grocery store or have a few faves in your rotation. I know I have a hard time doing *all* of my grocery shopping in one place. Since the pandemic began, I have become even more particular about where and when I go out. Here are my favorite places to shop for groceries and home essentials for reasonable prices!
- Trader Joe's
I feel like Trader Joe’s is the quintessential grocery store for college-aged people. They have a great selection of frozen meals and easy meal staples, so you can still eat well for cheap, even if you don’t have adequate kitchen access or the best culinary skills. Their produce is pretty good and well-priced, but if you’re worried about things going bad, their frozen fruits and veggies will be your best friend. If you stick to what you need, you should be able to get out of there pretty cheap. I know I have a habit of not being able to go in there without buying some kind of fun snack or dessert, so I end up spending a little more than I would like. My willingness to ~treat myself~ coupled with how busy the store gets has definitely pushed Trader Joe’s lower on my grocery rotation recently. All in all, it’s a good option for easy meals and snacks!
- Torres Market
Torres Market is a great option if you live on or near campus and don’t have a car. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the residential side of campus, and it’s located on the corner of Maple Avenue and Front Street. It’s a small store, but they have plenty of produce and just about any other grocery staples you need. A highlight is definitely their bakery section that has amazing fresh bread and pastries. When it’s nice out, take a walk over to Torres to get your groceries for the week!
This one is a bit of a hike, so you will definitely need a car or a friend who’s willing to drive you to get there! For the quality and quantity of things you can get, Aldi is the best. They have the cheapest produce of any store I frequent, and it gives you enough to last at least a few weeks at a time. They have affordable plant-based and organic options, a solid bakery section and dry goods. I don’t frequent Aldi as much as I’d like, but in terms of affordability and quality of items you can get, Aldi is absolutely the place to go.
- H Mart
H Mart has the best variety of produce out of any store around. The Korean-American chain is somewhere you should make a point of checking out. From the sheer variety of produce, an amazing bakery (can you tell I like bread and desserts) and tons of frozen dumplings, it’s a challenge to find something you won’t like. Some locations even have food courts, which add yet another reason to make the trip.
Lidl kind of feels like Aldi’s cousin. Similar in layout and pricing, Lidl is another great option and has a closer location to campus than Aldi. Lidl’s produce is a bit more hit-or-miss than Aldi's, but the prices are comparable. Lidl doesn’t have the most options for people who are vegan or vegetarian, but they seem to be slowly growing their inventory in that department. They have really well-priced cheeses, meats and crackers, so this is a great place to check out if you’re looking to have a fancy little picnic with friends. We all need reasons for some treats!
Learning how to best shop for yourself can be difficult at first. Keeping staples on hand and knowing stores you can rely on for cheap, quality produce and other essentials can make shopping and figuring out meals much easier. If you don’t already frequent these stores, I highly recommend checking them out!