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Lowering the grocery bill.

In an effort to save money, I have been cooking at home more often. But I still end up spending a lot on food. I was complaining to a guy about it & he said,"If you know where to shop, food in NYC is cheaper than in other parts of the country." I asked him where to go, he said I should talk to his wife about it b/c she's the expert, but he mentioned Chinatown & the Union Sq Market. I won't be meeting up with them any time soon, so I was wondering where you guys go for food bargains.

Are there certain supermarket chains that have better prices than others? Are there special places you go for bargains on produce, cheese (my fave thing in the world), chocolate, seafood, ethnic supplies etc?

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    1. You can't beat East Village Cheese Market on 9th street and 3rd Avenue. I stock up all the time there.

      1. I love this topic. I guess it depends on what neighborhood you live/work in and how far you are willing to travel. I work downtown and live on the UES, so I try to get most of my produce in Chinatown or this tiny hole-in-the-wall place in my neighborhood. IMO, Union Square is definitely good, but it's not cheap. I've recently discovered Morton Williams and think their prices and selection are better than the typical Gristedes and Food Emporium (specifically the MW on 57th Street and also the one on 2nd and 48th or so), so I try to pick things up whenever I'm in those areas. Trader Joes gets a lot of attention on this board (positive and negative) - again, a place to keep in mind when you're in the area (assuming it's not over the weekend or anytime between 6pm and 9pm) when the only thing it's good for is making you want to kill someone.

        4 Replies
        1. re: RussianGirl

          Hi Russian Girl,
          I also live in the UES, what is this hole-in-the-wall you are talking about?

          1. re: Little Cupcake

            It's literally a hole in the wall on 2nd Ave between 62nd and 63rd, right next to Chicken Kitchen. The variety varies from day to day, so I usually just stop on my way home from work and get whatever looks decent. Let me know if you go :)

          2. re: RussianGirl

            Depends for the greenmarket - some things are crazy expensive (meat, cheese, bread, etc), but in-season produce tends to be pretty cheap. When everyone there has buckets and buckets of, say, apples in September, prices drop.

            1. re: Emmmily

              I agree, Emmmily. I think it also depends on which greenmarket you go to. Union Square is a "destination" market, and in my opinion, the prices reflect that. I go to the neighborhood greenmarkets on the UWS (my favorite is 97th Street) which, while smaller, most often have much better prices.

          3. For Produce:
            Manhattan Fruit Exchange in the Chelsea Market.

            For Seafood:
            Sea Breeze Fish Market, 541 Ninth Ave. @ 40th St

            For Meat:
            Esposito & Sons Meat Market, 500 Ninth Ave. @ 38th St.
            Fairway
            Western Beef

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hurner

              I have to say that for produce, Manhattan Fruit Exchange cannot be beat. I have walked out of there with a full bag of fruit and veggies for only $10.

            2. West Side Market on 110th and Broadway has some cheap produce. Quality is up and down, much like most other places.

              Cheese, DiPalo for quality(usually)/price. I don't understand peoples' fascination with Murray's.

              EV Cheese market buys inventory that is near/post expiration and you can tell.
              Certain cheeses this is fine for, many, the quality is bad and it is obvious.
              Prices are lower than most though, again, sometimes they are worth zero.

              If you are sensitive to cheese quality, then what you buy makes a big difference. If, like most people, you buy a fresh cheese that has been sitting for days and don't care, then, you have more choice.

              Oh, that Westside Market on 110th will have some cheese on sale, sometimes quite cheap but again, certain types are terrible(parm reg, my word, I am still angry about it), some decent enough(a few bries) to be worth the price and more.

              Mostly, you are screwed for good produce, in general, and certainly without paying, what I consider, high prices in Manhattan.

              1 Reply
              1. re: dietndesire

                ah! I bought grated parm from this westside the other day and it was entirely flavorless. I picked up some from Fairway today and it is so much better

              2. Nobody's mentioned wine and hard liquor - I love Warehouse Liquors on Broadway and Astor Place. Great sales and very knowledgeable salespeople. I shop carefully at East Village Cheese (don't buy packaged food that doesn't have an expiration date on the package). Buy good produce but not too much at one time - fresh vegetables at any price are wasted when they rot in your fridge. I will pay extra at the green market, but I try to control the urge to stock up too much. TJ's is great for certain items: organic milk, some prepared foods, nuts, but beware the produce. At least they will cheerfully refund your money for anything you don't like, no questions asked.

                1. hi upper east sider!
                  our neighborhood is tough. You can sometimes luck out with stuff on sale at the food emporium (check the circular when you arrive). There is a decent deli with a large produce section out front and more inside in the back (their parsley/herbs are fresh and much cheaper than grace's or citarella). Its on the corner of 71st and 2nd. Stay away from Elis--sort of the harrods food hall of the UES. I sometimes hit the fruit/veg vendors b/c you can get decent stuff there. Also, there is a tiny seasonal farmer's market saturdays in the school playground on I think 67th between 1st and york (you may see flea market tables out front--its just east of first. ) Nothing was there as of last weekend but in the late spring/summer through the fall, they have good produce, bread organic meat, plants, etc. The best stuff is usually gone by about 1pm though. My new strategy is to subway down to TJs first thing in the morning, stock up on meat and frozen seafood (great wild salmon ) along with pasta, dried fruit and nuts (I agree with the earlier poster--their produce stinks) along with cheese (they have surpisingly decent coffee) and take the bus home. Its worth doing every 6-8wks and has definitely lowered my grocery bills. And, along the lines with what bnemes said, see what you waste. I try and plan out a weeks menu in advance so that I don't end up pitching too much. It takes time and can be annoying, but you do save money.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: preppie foodie

                    I second that deli on 71st and 2nd - significantly better than your average deli.

                  2. Meat: Western Beef, Dynasty, Pioneer, Fairway, Esposito's
                    Produce: Chinatown, Union Square, Manhattan Fruit Exchange
                    Seafood: Mott Street, Lobster Place, Sea Breeze
                    Cheese: East Village Cheese Shop, Zabar's
                    Bread: East Village Cheese Shop, Fairway
                    Chain Shopping: Pioneer, Met

                    I consult the circulars before I shop and manage to do a fair amount of cooking for under $40 per week.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JungMann

                      Add Stiles Market on 9th Ave around 41st or so for dirt cheap produce and 9th Street Bakery for bread.

                    2. Hi:

                      Please help us keep this on topic by making suggestions of where to shop in Manhattan. General tips on how to lower your grocery bill belong on the Not About Food board.

                      Thank you.

                      1. I love this topic, because we are doing the same. I am trying my best at East Village Cheese Shop, I live nearby. It's taken me about a year (new to this neighborhood) to figure it out. Get past the cold service there, they are not especially nice, but there are bargains to be had. Boursin is usually $1.59, which is insanely cheap. Herring in wine sauce is $2.50 for 1/4 pound --- it's not Russ and Daughters quality, but it is more than OK. Same comments for olives, marinated artichokes. Buy what cheese they have on special and eat it right away, and you'll be a happy hound.
                        I don't buy all my fish at Whole Foods (vastly prefer Lobster Place, Citarella and the fish guy at Union Sq Market) but when they have stuff on special, sometimes we have done very well. For example, they have good trout filets, and lots of time they have different salmon on sale, you just need to keep an open mind. Never buy scallops there, they are usually the wet ones and gross. When we lived on the UWS and were very young and also on a tight budget, one of our favorite dinners was a simple salad (produce from Fairway), a loaf of good bread from Fairway or Zabar's, some prepared soup from Zabar's (like their mushroom barley), and some fruit from Fairway for dessert. I've tried to do the Chinatown thing but I don't know my way around and just found it overwhelming, but the prices at the markets are amazing.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: susan robin

                          If you know where to go in Chinatown it need not be overwhelming, though it did take me a few years to build a tolerance for the bustle and push of it all. For seafood, your best bets are the fishmongers on the west side of Mott just south of Grand. For marinated meats and prepared foods, cross to the east side of the street and try Dynasty. For cheap produce, both Western and Asian, along with an array of Asian goods, exit Dynasty on Elizabeth Street, turn left on Hester and check out Hong Kong Supermarket.

                        2. Produce is cheap at... I can't remember exactly where, or what it's called, but somebody can chime in... it's between 8th and 9th (I think) down around W 50th, south side of the street, it's halfway between a tent and a building.

                          It's pretty much all produce, though they have some bagels and other odds and ends.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: acidity

                            Stiles on 52nd St between 8th and 9th. They also have another branch on 9th ave close to 42nd st for very cheap produce.
                            In Chinatown, fruits carts abound on baxter street just south of canal. There's also a row of vegetable and seafood stores on Mott north of Canal. The vegetables in Chinatown, while cheap are of the Asian variety, so it might not be as useful if you're looking for salad ingredients for example.
                            www.orderinny.wordpress.com

                            1. re: xigua

                              Chinatown vegetable stands sell many "western" vegetables as well as Asian varieties. You'll always be able to find tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, broccoli, carrots, etc.

                          2. Pathmark for groceries is the cheapest,

                            1. I shop occasionally at Deluxe Food Market (79 Elizabeth Street) in Chinatown/Little Italy. It's located north of Canal street and occupies an entire block between Mott and Elizabeth with entrances on both streets. This market is composed of many small food counters selling prepared foods as well as fresh vegetables and meat.

                              I have bought prepared foods at the deli station close to the Elizabeth street entrance before. In the end of the day (~ 7 or 7:30 PM), they sometimes offer discount prices on various meat items (BBQ pork, chicken ,etc.). At the dessert counters, you can find Chinese-style baked goods such as sponge cakes, pork buns and small pastries. The prices are typically pretty low compare with regular grocery stores in Manhattan, although these Chinese baked goods/buns/desserts will taste quite different from what's sold at your local bakery.

                              In the center of the market, they have a freezer stocked with frozen wontons and dumplings at pretty low prices. There is also a meat counter near the center of this market.

                              Here is a link I found about this market, you can check it out:

                              http://www.chow.com/places/11657

                              Wish you good luck in getting good deals on grocery!