It is no secret that grocery shopping in New York City can be a nightmare. Unless you want to blow your budget on takeout every night, learning how to grocery shop is a necessary evil. Luckily, some planning and clever tricks can make this chore a bit easier.
1) Make a list. The most basic way to improve your grocery shopping experience is to make a list before you go. Not all grocery lists are created equal, however. The first step is to decide between a digital and old school paper list. If you would rather have a list on paper, buy a cheap notepad to throw in your purse or backpack so you can jot down items you need throughout the week as you think of them. The technologically savvy can use the notes function or an app like Evernote on their smartphones to make sure their list is always with them. Consider organizing your list to make your trip to the store as quickly as possible. For example, if you group all the items you need from the produce section together, you will be less likely to have to sprint from the checkout line because you forgot something.
2) Shop less often. Frequent grocery shopping is bad grocery shopping. If you know how long you can expect your groceries to last, you can dramatically increase the time between grocery runs. Dried pasta, canned goods and frozen food will keep for more than a semester, so there is no reason to buy them every week. Buy as many of these pantry staples as you can fit in your kitchen, and then supplement them with perishable items. You will not want to keep foods like eggs or milk in your fridge for more than a few weeks, but other perishables including bread and butter can be frozen for a few months.
3) Know your discounts. Because there are so many places to shop for groceries in New York City, some stores offer great discounts to attract customers. You can get 10 percent off by showing your NYUCard any time you shop at Garden of Eden or when you shop on Thursdays at Gristedes. Chains like Whole Foods, Fairway and Food Emporium have loyalty cards, apps and email lists that can let you know about great deals.
4) Know where to shop.Trader Joe’s might not have weekly specials, but they do have some of the best prices in the city. The best way to shop this notoriously crowded grocery store is simple: go early. It might not sound fun, but the deals at Trader Joe’s are worth sacrificing a few hours of sleep. If you are unlucky enough to have an 8 a.m. this semester, do your shopping right after class. Your morning will have been so productive, you can reward yourself with a nice afternoon nap.
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