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Cheap groceries for fruits, veggies and meat?? please help!

I recently moved to the area and quite simply can't afford the rip off that whole foods is. I spend about $150 on groceries a week (mostly due to high prices of meat and fish) and never end up getting a lot of groceries!

Can someone tell me where to go near midtown to get affordable fruit and veggies? also meat and even fish??

I really appreciate it as I am new to this big city and feel kinda lost with all the options.

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  1. Hi:

    I can understand your frustration with the prices here, though, often, I find that some ingredients are actually cheaper in the city than in various other smaller cities in which I've lived.

    Also, I don't think that midtown is known for either a variety of grocery shopping options, or inexpensive ones. My suggestions would be to either head up to Fairway once a week, and/or down to Chinatown. Also, the produce place in Chelsea Market is very reasonable. Do you have room to buy meats and freeze them?

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      Second Chinatown and Chelsea Market produce place (even the Fire Dept. shops there). There's also a Fairway in rooklyn if you are downtown and have access to a car. Essex Street Market and economy Candy (LES) are also pretty good. Not sure what neighborhood you are in . . .

      When I had a car I would load up on pantry items when I visited my family in the Albany area and bring them to the city :)

    2. Another option for produce is those stands on the street - I'm pretty sure that I've seen them somewhere in Midtown - just worth keeping an eye out for them.

      1. The area between 38 St and 50 Street on 9th Avenue has some options: the Amish Market, 731 9th Avenue; there are several fish stores on 9th Avenue near 42nd Street; Stile's Market on 52n Street between 9th and 8th Avenue is inexpensive...On Thursdays starting June 18, until early fall, there is a Greenmarket inside of the Port Authority Bus Station, 8am-6 pm, in the bus terminal itself on the street level (according to the Greenmarket website.)
        There are also Greenmarkets on the east side of Midtown. Have a look at the website for all locations: http://www.cenyc.org/

        1. For very affordable:

          Fruit & Vegetables: Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market (9th Ave. @ 15th St.)
          Fish: Sea Breeze Fish Market (9th Avenue @ 40th Street)
          Meat: Western Beef, 431 W 16th St. (between 9th & 10th Avenues)

          1. Closest option for midtown would be to head over to Ninth Avenue . The are a few butchers and a produce company with a street stand along the 40's. Also check out Western Beef on 15th between 9th and 10th which is right across the street from the Chelsea Market. Definetly shop at Fairway (i believe prices are even better at the 131st location) and Chinatown. New York supermarkets are over priced for not great food (especially produce),

            1. I find it easier to travel a little further on the subways than to walk or take buses to the cheap markets, which means that rather than sticking just to Fairway and my local Pioneer, I also trek to Chinatown for Asian vegetables and seafood (occasionally meat), Sea Breeze for fish, Chelsea Market for produce, Zabar's or the East Village Cheese Shop for cheese, Western Beef (usually 16th St, not 62nd St) for meat, the occasional specialty shop and in the summertime, the Union Square Greenmarket for herbs and certain vegetables. If Esposito's were more convenient to me, I would also go there for fairly-priced meat. With some travel and planning I am often able to keep my grocery bills beneath $30 per week.

              1. all excellent suggestions. just one other option that i didn't see mentioned...if you don't want to trek to Chinatown for Asian groceries, there's an H-Mart on W. 32nd between Broadway & Fifth.

                1. hey cups123, i sympathize. i also had major sticker shock when i first moved to NYC.

                  (1) buy your fruit and veggies from street vendors. the fruit is often times riper (and in my opinion better) than what you'd find at a standard market. produce generally needs to be consumed within 1-2 days.

                  (2) since you're in midtown, shop at the w. 63rd st. Western Beef for high quality fresh produce and meat. monitor their weekly specials and shop for what's on sale. i've never purchased fish there. address: 75 West End Ave, New York, NY 10023

                  (3) for processed foods (like cereal, dried fruit, peanut butter, even milk and eggs, sometimes), i find that drugstores in NYC inexplicably have great deals sometimes. Rite Aid and CVS generally have better prices for food than Duane Reede.

                  If you give more specifics (i.e. approximate cross streets), someone might be able to recommend specific street vendors.

                  Obviously a trip to Chinatown for produce is $4 extra, unless you have an unlimited subway pass. If you do have an unlimited pass and have time, a trip out to Patel Brothers in Queens might be even better for produce and rice. Fish is inexpensive and often fresh in Chinatown and further uptown in Washington Heights. If you walk north a few blocks from the 157th St. subway stop, you'll find lots of inexpensive fish mongers and huge bags of corn tortillas for 99 cents.

                  In general, walk and keep your eyes peeled for good deals. There are great produce street vendors and corner markets everywhere, sometimes with excellent deals on certain products, but not others.

                  Finally, Fresh Direct (delivery through freshdirect.com) can be horribly expensive for certain things, but given your part of town, might actually be less expensive for meat, fish, potatoes, bananas, packaged salad mixes and certain other products. Relative to midtown (with the exception of Western Beef) and many parts of the UWS and W. Village, they often have good prices on milk, eggs, soda, yogurt, canned beans. I dislike their produce, but meat and fish are high quality.

                  Good luck. Come back here for add'l, more specific directions if you need 'em.

                  1. Fresh Direct! Order online and they deliver to you when specified (up to a 24 hr notice) with a 2 hr window. I buy about $60 a week and find that most of their produce is good if not better than the grocery store near me. It's no farmer's market, but I can say that I order bananas, grapes, broccoli, berries etc. every week and they have always been good. I also order chicken (they have organic, anti-b free in addition to standard grade A) and it's always up to my standards. I'm a huge Fresh Direct fan.

                    1. I'm a Citarella fan. I'm a comparative shopper and they are not overpriced. They often feature decent seasonal fruit and veg options, and are particularly good on less expensive cuts of meat and especially fish. You'll need to cherry pick, it's not a place for one stop shopping. You'll immediately realize which items are best bought elsewhere.

                      I'm also a stalwart Chelsea Market shopper. The fish market is excellent as is the fruit and veg shop. Careful of fruit and veg that has been on the shelf for a bit.

                      While in the 'hood, check Western Beef for some low prices.

                      the street corner fruit and veg carts can be good and cheap.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chuck Lawrence

                        Can't beat Fairway.

                      2. There are if anything too many options in midtown for inexpensive groceries. Stiles' is by far my favorite for fruits/veggies; it is like one giant fruit cart in a reagular stall. I got mangos there all summer for $0.50 apiece. There's one on 52 b/w 8 &9, and one just north of PABT on 9th ave.
                        For meat, the meat market next door has pretty low prices and some less common offerings (tripe, etc) though quality is not as high as some other places. Another option is Esposito's, on 9th around 36th; great meat, less expensive than Whole Foods and better butchers.
                        Sea Breeze was mentioned earlier; good fish, good quality, and generally cheap. I got tuna steak there last week for $8 a pound.
                        Fairway on UWS or Harlem are good if you can do public transit easily. They do deliver if you want to go and pick things out. I prefer Harlem to do big grocery trips and stock up.

                        Sorry if you're on the east since I do all my shopping on the west side by me!
                        Enjoy all the city has to offer; while I love Whole Foods, there are many much more fun options.