Grocery Shopping in a City
Grocery shopping- the chore you either love or absolutely despise. Dancers (and everyone for that matter) need food to fuel themselves, therefore making grocery shopping inevitable.
In the suburbs grocery shopping is a simple task: you drive to the store, park your car, go shopping, put your groceries into you car, drive home, and then carry the groceries inside. However, living in a large city (such as New York), grocery shopping is not as simple, especially if you don’t have a car.
Be smart and price shop. There’s nothing wrong with going to a grocery store and just looking to see what they offer. Check prices on your staple items that you buy each week. Calculate if this grocery store helps you stay within your weekly or monthly food budget. Larger chains have their items and prices listed online so you can price shop from home.
You might learn that some grocery stores have better prices on produce while another one has a better natural foods section. Be open to having more than one go-to grocery store. Also, don’t be afraid to frequent the produce vendors on the street (in NYC). They have low cost produce that is very fresh. Just remember that they only take cash.
Make a food budget for the week or month and stick with it. Food can be expensive in any major city – so don’t let your food expenses get away from you. Jess wrote a great article about food budgeting for dancers, which you can check out here.
Grocery Shop on Your Way Home
Kill two birds with one stone- go grocery shopping on the way home from class, rehearsal, work, the gym, wherever. It just makes life easier and saves time so you don’t have to make a separate trip. Also, there can sometimes be better grocery stores where you work than where you live. For example, there’s a Trader Joe’s a block from my part time job. It’s so easy to grocery shop after work and then jump on the subway to go home.
Use and Reuse Reusable Bags
Reusable bags are you best friend when living in a large city. No only do you have a piece of mind that your bag won’t break – spending your produce flying, apples rolling, and eggs smashed – but you’re saving the planet as well. Reusable bags are much easier to carry on the subway (or any form of public transportation) than plastic or paper bags. It keeps everything contained to one or two bags. Plus, it’s a good arm workout on the way home.
Don’t Shy Away from Using the Granny Cart
For larger grocery shopping trips or errands, consider using a granny cart (or as they call it in the UK: shopping trolley). Using a cart is an easy way to prevent straining your arms and back while carrying your groceries home. However, it might be a pain getting the cart up and down the stairs in the subway if there is not an elevator or escalator at your stop.
Another option is a reusable bag with wheels. It rolls up so you can throw it in your dance bag and then wheel it home full of groceries later that day.
Granny carts are also a great way to take your laundry to the Laundromat if you don’t have a washer or dyer in your building.
Basket > Cart
Very few grocery stores in Manhattan or anywhere in New York City offer grocery carts to shoppers because their stores are too small to maneuver full size carts. (This is where having a granny cart can really come in handy!) If you are going to carry your groceries home, carry them (in a basket) throughout the store. There is nothing worse than loading up a cart and then realizing you’ll never be able to carry your groceries home on your own.
Be Open to Making Multiple Trips Per Week
Some weeks it’s just impossible to carry your entire week’s worth of groceries home in one trip. Be open to doing a 2-3 small trips during the week that are easier to carry home. More frequent trips to the store also means a more constant cycle of fresh produce in your home.
Use a Grocery Delivery Service
This is a great option for people who feel that they don’t have time for grocery shopping or don’t want to carry their groceries home. There are several groceries services, but availability will depend on your location.
Peapod from Stop and Shop is popular service. Keep in mind that they do have an order minimum of $60 and their delivery charges are based on your order amount and location. They are prompt with delivery; giving you a two hour window they will deliver your groceries.
Trader Joe’s delivers as well (in Manhattan), but keep in mind their delivery charges range depending on how far your home is located from the store you ordered your groceries from.
Amazon recently launched their Amazon Fresh Program. It’s available to Prime Members in certain cities in the United States for $14.99 a month in addition to your current Prime fees. Currently there is an offer than you try Amazon Fresh free for a month. Orders under $50 incur a $9.99 delivery fee. You can schedule your delivery for that day or the next morning.
In the end, don’t be afraid to shop around until you find your favorite grocery store- or what stores are good for certain items or how shopping fits into your schedule.