5 Tips for Cooking and Grocery Shopping in NYC
Of all the questions to ask a New Yorker about life in the big city, one of the most common is “How do you cook and do your grocery shopping?” While other major city dwellers are used to transporting a bunch of groceries in the trunk of their own car, most New Yorkers walk, take the subway or hail a cab to and from the grocery store. They’re also more reliant on small corner stores or markets, and often have tiny kitchens.
Understandably, grocery shopping and cooking in NYC has become somewhat of a mystery to many, leaving visitors with access to a kitchen wondering what to do during their stay.
Follow these five tips to avoid eating out for every meal during your stint in the city, whether it’s long or short.
1. Shop more often, but purchase less each time
It’s much easier to carry just one or two bags of groceries if you’re walking or taking the subway home from the market. Even if you take a cab or rideshare, space is limited. The obvious remedy is to purchase fewer groceries at a time. It may require you to shop more frequently, but at least you won’t be stuck trying to lug pounds of groceries through the subway turnstile.
Speaking of buying less…
2. Use a basket instead of a shopping cart
The smaller capacity of a basket keeps you from purchasing more than you can comfortably carry home. Additionally, it’s much easier to navigate through a crowded NYC market or grocery store with a basket than with a clunky cart. Your fellow shoppers will thank you.
3. Plan the meals you’ll cook — but not too far ahead
It’s best to walk into the grocery store knowing what meals you plan to cook and the ingredients they require. Pick two or three recipes to cook over the next few days and buy just the ingredients needed for those meals, plus snacks or any other staple items. You can even just shop for one meal you’ll cook for yourself and/or your loved ones that night. By not planning out too many meals, your ingredients will be fresh and easy to carry, plus you’ll have some wiggle room for dining out here and there.
4. Know where to shop for what
New York City has different types of food stores that vary by size, locale, price and what they may or may not carry.
Small corner stores, locally referred to as bodegas, are ubiquitous in all five boroughs. They sell a variety of items including packaged snacks, candy, toiletries, beverages, cigarettes, newspapers and magazines. Many also sell a small selection of fresh produce, canned and dry goods, frozen foods, eggs and dairy products. Bodegas are easiest to locate, but inventory is limited.
Markets larger than a bodega but smaller than a supermarket are also common. You’ll find a decent inventory of fresh produce, meats, dairy and other grocery goods, but don’t expect a wide selection of brands or specialty items to choose from.
Lastly, supermarkets such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Fairway Market and Food Emporium are also found throughout the city. You’ll find the most variety and abundance in these stores—but resist the urge to use a cart.
5. Have your groceries delivered
Delivery is a way of life in New York, and that includes groceries. Popular choices include FreshDirect, Peapod, Amazon Fresh and Instacart. Some major grocery stores like Whole Foods also provide their own delivery or pickup service. Just be sure to tip appropriately, especially in inclement weather.
Cook with us at Q&A Hotel
One of the best things about staying at Q&A Hotel is having a full sized, fully equipped kitchen in your residence. From pots and pans to martini shakers, you’ll have everything you need to cook and consume homemade meals right in your room. Conveniently, organic grocery store City Acres Market is located on the bottom floors of the building, selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, seafood, bulk goods and more. They even offer grocery delivery to Q&A guests. Take advantage!