Where to shop now that you’re on your own
Well, you’re finally out of the dorms and on your own. That means no more Big Mouth Burrito, no more Pop Tarts passing as actual meals and no more late-night Carson runs. You have to cook for yourself now. But where on Earth do you buy the ingredients?
Market of Choice
Are you rich? Then Market of Choice is for you.
Totally kidding, although it can certainly be the most expensive option on this list. When I shop at Market of Choice, it is almost always at the beginning of the month after I’ve just been paid. It’s a real treat to shop here, and I try not to let myself go too often.
Market of Choice, with a location on Franklin Boulevard by Matthew Knight Arena and another on Willamette, has one of the best deli counters around, and its gourmet cheese selection cannot be beat. It also has a huge variety of artisan beers and wines to choose from. Eat organic? Look no further. Gluten-free? This place is for you. Vegetarian or vegan? Bam! What’s great about Market of Choice is that they sell high-quality foods you won’t regret eating. It’s just going to cost you a little more to do so.
Sundance Natural Foods/The Kiva
If you’re looking for two stores that perfectly encapsulate the hippie stereotype of Eugene, then look no further than Sundance Natural Foods and The Kiva.
Sundance, located at 24th Avenue and Hilyard Street, is perfect if you’re looking for local, organic and even something called “wildcrafted” produce. They have a great selection of bulk items and a yummy salad bar. Better yet, they’re affiliated with Sundance Wine Cellars next door, which offers a wide variety of Oregon and northwest wines, as well as wines from around the world. It can’t be beat!
The Kiva, on the corner of 11th Avenue and Olive Street, is similar. They offer an amazing variety of local, organic ingredients as well as made-to-order sandwiches during weekdays. Along with being a grocery store, The Kiva also sells books on myriad subjects.
If I could shop exclusively at Trader Joe’s, I absolutely would. I love the place. Trader Joe’s is great for those students who don’t feel totally comfortable in the kitchen yet. They offer tons of high-quality frozen meals that are a snap to cook up, plus they’re not full of the same gross chemicals that you find in, say, a Hungry-Man microwave dinner. The frozen orange chicken is one of my favorites — it tastes just like the Panda Express version but boasts half the calories. Which means, of course, that you can eat twice as much!
Trader Joe’s also has awesome artisan breads and fancy cheeses, and it has a really great wine and beer selection where you can find stuff like blackberry beer and Two-Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw wine; it’s a steal). It can get a little pricey, but if you pace yourself you can get some great deals.
Okay, yes, WinCo is pretty much the Walmart of grocery stores. And yes, it’s way out on Barger Road in West Eugene, which makes it really difficult to get to by bus. And yes, there are some real weirdos who shop there.
But if you have a car and a sense of adventure, than WinCo is the place for you. The prices, honestly, cannot be beat. Every time I shop there I am astonished at how little I spend. Take, for example, my current obsession: Laughing Cow cheese. At Albertsons or Safeway they cost $4.49, but at Winco they’re just $2.29. I’m serious! They also have a great selection of bulk items — from chocolate chips and spices to gummy bears and almonds — that can help you save even more.
Safeway tries to be Market of Choice and WinCo at the same time and fails miserably at both. It aims to be an affordable option for college students, and it’s true that they do have some good deals, but for the bulk of your shopping, you can find much cheaper options elsewhere.
Albertsons is kind of like Safeway’s little brother, in that it’s smaller, more poorly lit and a bit creepy. At both places you can find coupons and special sales that can save you some money, but if you’re really looking for groceries on the cheap, WinCo is still your best option. However, purely because of their locations, Safeway and Albertsons are the most convenient. And at both stores you can find some killer deals on beer and wine, which really come in handy when the weekends roll around.
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