One of the huge advantages of staying in the East Village instead of, say, around the Times Square, is that there are heaps of affordable supermarkets dotted about, which is wonderful if you’re renting an apartment and want to cook occasionally, or, at the very least, you want to whip up your own breakfast eggs. Here’s what it costs to stock up with our New York shopping list.
A large multicultural population means you can find any kind of food here, from packets of freshly made Polish pierogi and Ukrainian vareniki ready to boil (even better refried the morning after) to fresh corn tortillas and myriad salsas, beans and sauces from Mexico and Central America (which are great for putting together some quesadillas or nachos).
When we started researching our New York shopping list, we found that because the East Village, and especially Alphabet City, is a living-breathing barrio, with very few tourists around, the prices are significantly cheaper than they are further uptown. This also has something to do with the fact that the median income of residents here and in the Lower East Side area more generally is under half the citywide median income, with around a quarter of residents on low to extremely low incomes, but more on that in another post.
Of course, if you’re happy to pay higher prices, you can head to Whole Foods nearby at the Bowery, on the border between the East Village and Lower East Side, which obviously has higher quality produce and a much wider variety, although we’ve been fairly satisfied with our local supermarkets, such as Key Food and Associated Supermarket, and smaller grocery stores, such as Village Farm Grocery and East Village Farm and Grocery.
There is also a small green market on the edge of Tompkins Square Park on Sundays, and a larger green market on Union Square on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. In most stores you can expect to find a good range of organic fruit and vegetables, along with free-range eggs, although as you’d expect the organic produce is very expensive.
Out of the local products, what’s impressed me most has been the range of fresh juices, iced teas, and American beers, although the dearth of American wines both in supermarkets and local liquor stores, has been disappointing. You’ll also find the same familiar brands here that you’ll find at supermarkets all around the world – Twinings and Tetley teas, Nescafe and Illy coffee, and the Spanish and Italian olive oils that dominate supermarket shelves.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that we use the same list below each month, apart from the last product on the list, which is a local specialty, is something that is ubiquitous, or in season and in abundance when we’ve visited. We chose ‘Mac’n’Cheese’, because we’d never actually seen it in a packet in a supermarket before, and every shopper seemed to a box of the stuff in their trolley. Having now tried it, though, we’re baffled as to why anyone would use a packet mix and not simply add some fresh cheese to pasta. Can anyone explain?
Price Check: a New York Shopping List
|2 litre water||US$1.00||£0.66||€0.79|
|1 quart (1 litre) milk||US$2.60||£1.72||€2.06|
|Bottle of local wine*||US$12.00||£7.92||€9.50|
|12oz (350 ml) beer||US$1.40||£0.92||€1.11|
|250 g Organic coffee beans||US$11.99||£7.92||€9.49|
|Tetley tea 50 bags||US$4.80||£3.17||€3.80|
|1 kg sugar||US$2.00||£1.32||€1.58|
|Jar of peanut butter||US$2.50||£1.65||€1.98|
|1 loaf of bread||US$2.00||£1.32||€1.58|
|8 oz (250g) quality butter||US$4.00||£2.64||€3.17|
|8 oz (250g) cheddar||US$4.70||£3.10||€3.72|
|500 ml olive oil||US$9.00||£5.94||€7.12|
|1 doz organic eggs||US$4.00||£2.64||€3.17|
|2.2 lb (1 kilo) tomatoes||US$4.20||£2.77||€3.32|
|2.2 lb (1 kilo) onions||US$3.80||£2.51||€3.01|
|2.2 lb (1 kilo) apples||US$6.60||£4.36||€5.22|
|250 g pistachios||US$6.00||£3.96||€4.75|
|1 box Mac’n’Cheese||US$1.29||£0.85||€1.02|
Price Check is a series of posts from every destination we visit where we settle in for a while, that could serve as a shopping list for you to stock the kitchen at the start of your stay, as well as a cost of living index, giving you an idea as to what things cost in that place. We include some basic items to get you started, plus a local specialty or two from the place.