This may come as a surprise, but people need to eat. I know, pretty profound. For those of us living off campus, a meal plan isn’t a viable option. So long Grab n’ Go, hasta la vista Late Night at the Berk, au revoir Pitas 101, and good-bye Blue Wall. Many Juniors and Seniors at UMass are buying their own groceries for the first time in their lives. Luckily, the area has plenty of grocery stores to choose from. I’m here help you decide which one’s best for you and your needs.
The Big Boxes
Big Y and Stop and Shop, on University Drive and Route 9 respectively, are the two conventional grocery stores in the area. You will find everything you could possibly want in your kitchen: dairy, produce, snacks, fruit, etc. Big Y also has a savings card that can help students save money if they buy certain foods, with a rewards program worked into it. The catch with these two is the price. They charge extra for the convenience of having all these name brands under one roof.
The Earthy-Crunchy Stores
Within a close vicinity of one another, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s provide the more morally-sound individuals with a chance to feel good about themselves. The focus is an unmistakably green, organic approach. Processed foods are hard to come by at either store, helping you foster a healthier diet consisting of some locally grown produce. Prices are a little higher, but the quality of the product makes the hit to your wallet one that’s easy to stomach (no pun intended).
The Money Savers
I am unabashedly a cheapskate. I like to save money wherever I can. In doing so, I often sacrifice product quality and wholesomeness. In the last two years, Aldi Market, next to The Home Depot, has become a personal favorite of mine. Aside from the hilarity of the generic names, the products are not actually all that bad. By only having two or three people working at a time, Aldi can sell their groceries at the absolute lowest prices you’ll find anywhere. The best part is, you’ll find everything you need at Aldi, unlike Wal*Mart, which lacks meats, some produce products, and ethical work conditions.
Whether you enjoy the security of name brands, the wholesomeness of organic goods, or the low prices of generic brands, there are plenty of grocery markets to choose from in the area. Meal plans may be a thing of the past, but the autonomy of choosing what you eat is a skill everyone will need to develop once they leave college and enter the real world.
Mark Bruso can be reached for comment at [email protected]