Solving the Energy-Draining Wallet-Depleting Grocery Store Trek

You’re staring at your overbooked calendar searching for a time slot to fit in some errands. Aha! You find it. A three hour chunk of time, mid-morning on a Thursday that’ll be perfect. You quickly discern that a grocery run is the priority, as your pantry and refrigerator are rapidly becoming empty.

The decision has been made, but now comes the tricky part – the triple threat to living thrifty in NYC: managing your time, minding your budget and maneuvering the MTA when you’re a pack mule. Minding them is daunting no matter the task, but grocery shopping seems to take the cake as most difficult.

Being new to the city, I learned this fast. I just moved to Astoria, into my new three-bedroom apartment complete with two wonderful roommates and plenty of storage space. It’s a fabulous neighborhood full of families and delicious restaurants, and I love it! But not my grocery store schlep. After some trial runs, some blood, sweat, and tears, I’ve finally got my trip to the grocery store down to a formula. I’ve learned to plan wisely, think ahead, and pack lightly. So these are some of my tips for a joy-producing grocery store trek.

Start with the grocery store that is the closest option for you. Compare prices and products. If it isn’t ideal for you, seek out the nearest alternative that does have what you’re looking for. Please note that by “closest option”, I mean just that – the closest. This does not mean “close”. For example, after I determined that my local grocery store in Astoria was terrible, the Trader Joe’s in Chelsea became my best option and therefore my “closest option”. Being a Midwestern girl, I was familiar with the joys of TJ’s, so naturally I was thrilled!

Plan some meals and make a list. By deciding in advance what you will need for the week, you will ultimately save time and money.

Kill two birds with one stone. Head to the grocery when you are already in the area.

I’ve learned the rewards to strategic bag-packing and the secret is choosing the correct sized bag for your trip. Bring along two large reusable grocery bags (or more, if you can handle carrying them). You will then buy only what you can carry home.

For all other personal items, wear some sort of backpack or tote and pack lightly. Put your metro card and cell phone in your pocket before leaving the store, so you have easy access to them. This avoids the stress of shifting bags around once you leave the store.

Most importantly, make sure you can get the groceries home right away! Allot yourself enough time to make this return trip and be sure to take into account things like rush hour and MTA service changes that might keep your perishables from the fridge.

There, those are my tips. Once you have successfully formulated your own plan, you will save time, energy, and money; you will gain a stocked kitchen, a productive mindset, a happy composure, and a solid workout in the process. Happy shopping!

Post authored by Kristen Evensen

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