The hardest part about making dinner every night in New York City is not the lack of time or knowledge of how to truss a chicken. No, it's the physical act of grocery shopping. Small things, like lugging your groceries around in the subway when it's busy, or the long wait in check-out lines, are little reminders why grocery delivery services and takeout are so successful in this city.
Here are my least favorite parts about grocery shopping in New York. Care to add your own?
Now, don't get me wrong — I'm not ungrateful for the fact that I live in New York and can afford to get around and buy the ingredients that I need to make a good meal. It's just that I often find the grocery is such a pain in New York compared to other cities. Whenever I go home to Minneapolis and get to walk up and down giant aisles filled with all the things I could possibly need for dinner, I get a little jealous.
There are of course upsides to grocery shopping in New York. If you do it right, it can be rather inexpensive, and there are some wonderful Asian supermarkets that make cooking more of an adventure, but sometimes those things just don't outweigh the negatives.
Here are a few of the reasons I find grocery shopping in New York to be the worst.
1. Grocery stores in New York are generally not big.
I mean, how could they be when real estate is so valuable? Unless you have a car and can go out to Fairway in Red Hook, you're squeezing through the aisles.
2. You have to go to multiple grocery stores to get what you need.
Because grocery stores are small, they tend not to have everything you might need. The price for seemingly random ingredients, like granola, can vary a lot from store to store. If you want to cut costs and get everything you need, you'll end up going to three grocery stores for a single meal.
3. Going on the subway with your groceries is a pain.
Not a lot of people have cars in New York, so if you don't have a grocery store near you that you like, you have to carry your groceries on the subway. Trying to take two big bags of groceries home after work when the subway is busy is a nightmare for you and everyone else around you.
4. You can't take a lot home with you at a single time.
Because you're taking the subway home with your groceries, or walking, you really can't take that much stuff home with you unless you have one of those large wire carts that always break down.
5. You always need to check the expiration date on food items.
Depending on the grocery store, I always find I have to check the expiration date on food items. Lugging your bag of groceries home on the subway and finding out that pesto you bought is really expired is not fun at all.
6. Grocery store check-out lines can be a total nightmare (ahem, Trader Joe's).
This is especially the case if you like shopping at Trader Joe's. The one near Union Square is so bad that you sometimes have to get in the "check-out" line before you even enter the store. You have to shop while you wait in line.
7. Don't even think about finding ripe avocados or perfect bananas.
Nope, those things were gone before you even thought about making guacamole as a side for dinner.
8. Buying items in bulk is not an option.
It can be a trek to get to Costco, especially when you don't have a car.
9. The aisles are so very narrow.
Don't even try to use one of those big carts to buy your groceries. You'll get the death stare from your fellow grocery shoppers.
10. Farmers markets on the weekends are packed.
The Union Square Greenmarket might as well be Times Square on the weekend.
The price of living in the biggest city in the country! What drives you crazy about grocery shopping in New York City?