Grocery Shopping in Columbus

Every Sunday, which is supposed to be the day of rest, I run errands to prepare for the school week. I think I speak for many of us when I say that grocery shopping is one of my least favorite errands to do. It takes time to get there, it is usually crowded when I go, and then there is the time it takes to get the groceries up to my third level apartment (this step takes about 3-4 trips), and then actually putting the darn things away. Just typing all of that makes me stressed….All of this has changed in the past few weeks, because I’ve decided to get into a new routine to make the grocery shopping experience a little bit more palatable.

It all started over Christmas when my mom got me a gift card to Trader Joe’s. Now, Trader Joe’s is a place I could go on a regular basis. They have great stuff and, if you read Wes’s blog, they are owned by Aldi, so the prices are quite reasonable. Anyway, a few weeks ago I had some extra time so I went to the Dublin location and that was when it hit me. I could make grocery shopping a little more exciting by trying new places every week. I have most of the essentials, so when I go now I just go to get things strictly for the week. So far, it has been much better going to the grocery. I get to check out what other places have to offer and take in some new scenery instead of the same old store at the same time every week (I was getting scared when the people at the checkout at Giant Eagle started to recognize me). Also, when it comes to price, some places are more expensive and others are cheaper, so it seems like I end up spending the same amount in the long run.

Here are some of the places I’ve been so far and one good and bad thing about each:

1. Trader Joe’sLOVE the selection that you can’t really find at a regular grocery store, especially at their fairly low prices. My new favorite item from there is frozen tuna in a pesto-lemon marinade. Dislike that it is a little bit of a hike. They only have two locations in Columbus, one is Dublin and one at Easton. It takes me about 20 minutes to get to either location.

2. Giant Eagle (Clintonville)- This is the usual. LOVE that it is so close to home and that I know exactly where everything is. Also, the fuelperks are becoming an added bonus to shopping here on a regular basis. Dislike that it is ALWAYS crowded. It seems that whenever I go (yes, even late at night) it is ALWAYS busy. There is usually a fairly long wait at the registers.

3. Kroger (North High Street, Clintonville, I believe)- LOVE that they also have fuel rewards and that it is smaller, so it is easier to find things. This is where I used to go in my hometown, so I feel like I’m home walking through the aisles of Kroger. Dislike that they don’t have a great selection because it is pretty small.

4. Whole Foods (West Lane, Upper Arlington) – LOVE that it is close to campus and they have an excellent organic and produce selection. Dislike that it is a little pricey here, so I usually get specialty items and save the basics for Giant Eagle.

5. Walmart (near Polaris)- LOVE the prices. When I go here, I usually end up saving about $20 on my entire bill, compared to Giant Eagle or Kroger. Dislike that it is a good 20-25 minutes away and they don’t have the best produce selection.

If you dislike grocery shopping as much as I used to, try to vary it up a little bit. I’ve been told by classmates there is a Giant Eagle Market District that is “like heaven for foodies.” This is probably next on my list as well as Fresh Market. Stay tuned…..

P.S. I’m always open to new places for groceries, please comment with any suggestions 🙂

Grocery, study space, and restaurant recommendations

Let me give you some tips on how to get the most out of living in the dormitory on campus in terms of where to go to buy groceries and to study.

Grocery Stores : If you’re living on or very near campus, I highly recommend you to go to Kroger for your groceries unless you always eat out. Actually, as far as I know, there are 3 Krogers around the campus, one in South campus area (near High/King), another in the North (near High/N Broadway), and the other near University Village (near Ackerman/Olentangy River Rd). If you live in a campus dormitory or very near campus, they are located conveniently near campus.  As I am living in the Neil dormitory in south campus I go to the Kroger at North High St and 7th Ave. Just make sure to get a Kroger “frequent buyer” card, and then you can take advantage of various discounts, which change every week. I am pretty sure that they have quite low prices for fresh grocery products. Another place I want to tell you is the Target on the Olentangy River Road in Lenox Town Center. It may seem to be a little far to go, but if you you like to walk or if you have a bike, it’s a reasonable distance and not bad at all. Target focuses more on non-food products such as clothing, electronics, and a wide range of household products, but they have some non-perishable food such as juices, cereals, and bread. Near Target, there is an office supply retailer called Staples – additionally, there is a Famous Footwear (shoes), and Barnes and Noble (books, stationery) so that you can actually get in a fair amount of shopping in a single trip.

Study Room : I am a big fan of the school’s main library, Thompson Library, because it is large/spacious and has many places to read and study in it. Wireless internet accessible with power outlets everywhere! In addition to the main library, there are several other libraries on campus. If you research on the school web site, it is not hard to find information on the other libraries. There is one in the architecture college, one in the science engineering building, one in the Younkin Success Center, one in the medical school, one in the law school, and so on. They each have different operating hours/days, so please be aware of what library is available when you study. Do not believe that you only have the Thompson library to study in on campus.

Restaurant : Well, even though you can get food in the school dining facilities, unless you have a “short mouth” – in Korea, ‘having a short mouth’ is used when you do not have a balanced diet and eat only what you want to eat – take a trip to North High Street! There you can see Korean food, Chinese food, Mexican food, American food (for sure), and many kinds of food I have not even tasted or identified. Just a big gourmet! 🙂

Overall, if you stay on/near campus, do not hesitate to explore and find what is near you!

Peanut Butter, Jelly Time

One of my to-do’s when I first arrived on campus was finding the local grocery store. I am generally a lunch-packer, so I needed to purchase groceries for my peanut butter and jelly, baby carrot, yogurt, and teddy graham packed lunch. (Yes, my lunch in grad school is eerily similar to what my mom packed for me during grade school. I’m only missing the Dunkaroos, but those are pretty hard to find.)

Over time, I have found a few options for grocery shopping. Here is a list of the different  locations near Fisher Commons, in reverse order of my favorites.

3. Giant Eagle on 5th. This is a bigger grocery, and I have to give Giant Eagle the edge on produce selection and freshness. If you are an avocado fan, Giant Eagle has giant, delicious avocados! They also have a nice meat counter. Really the only reason they earned the #3 spot is because I don’t have a Giant Eagle discount card, and I find paying an extra $0.20 cents on most items really annoying. Other than that, it is a great option!

2. Kroger on Chambers. This is another great grocery! Kroger on Chambers is a decent size and has all of the essentials. They even have a nice “Naturals” section and an OSU fan shop. Being able to grocery shop and fill up on gas in one trip is also convenient. I don’t like the produce selection quite as much as Giant Eagle, but I do have a Kroger Plus Card, so the savings make Kroger a strong #2 in my mind.

1. Whole Foods on Lane. Whole Foods specializes in delicious, natural and organic foods and groceries. On top of having all the basics, Whole Foods offers a salad bar, hot foods bar, fresh pizza by the slice, soups, and other “ready-made” options. I find myself going for lunch quite often! They also have the best fresh seafood and meat bar. The only major con is the price. Whole Foods is generally the most expensive of these three grocery locations, but the price speaks to the quality of their foods. You can sign up for coupons to help curve costs, and I also tend to buy the lower-priced Whole Food’s 365 brand for most items.

If you are a foodie like me, you can rest assured there are several grocery options near the campus (and especially Fisher Commons)!