The Superior Grocery Store

I became a vegetarian in the 7th grade. The dietary restrictions that accompanied my new lifestyle were not so difficult to navigate since I was still living at home where my parents cooked for me and provided me with other nutritional sources. However, once I ventured into the world of independence and limited college food choices, I had to figure out the best and most affordable ways to nourish myself.  As a freshman at NYU, every student is required to select a meal plan.  Although the meal plan appeals to many, especially since it includes the infamous Chick Fil A restaurant, there are still many other students who struggle with finding vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or gluten-free options. 

When I started at NYU, I attempted to use the meal plan and tried to meet my 14 weekly swipe option. However,  I quickly realized there were very limited choices for me. As I walked into the dining hall known for the most options, I was hopefully optimistic. My eyes gazed at all of the different food options. I soon realized that most of the vegetables were cooked with meat. As I took a closer look into each of the tins, I saw that most options that were deemed to be “healthy” were cooked in unhealthy oils and other sauces that were not appealing. I had to eat something, and I already paid for the meal plan, so I had to try to survive off of what I saw. I thought my safest option was to go to the salad bar. I was hoping most salad bars include a multitude of ripe-looking vegetables and various options for protein. As I placed my order, my options included a choice of lettuce, what looked to be spoiled vegetables, mystery cheese, and no protein. None of those options appealed to me. For the first few weeks, I did indeed survive off of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. 

As I ate that I tried to survive off of the limited options especially since I am a  college student on a budget, but quickly realized this was not going to work. Besides the limited amount of money that I had, there was also limited space to store various vegetables, fruits, and even snacks since you are typically sharing a mini-fridge with your roommate. I had to find a way to be creative! Luckily, this is when I discovered Trader Joes, a well-known grocery store, located right near my dorm on 14th street between 3rd and 4th avenue. This is a prime location for every NYU college student as it’s a 5-10 minute walk from most dorms. 

“Trader Joe’s Union Square – Grocery Store (540).” Grocery Store on 142 E 14th St in New York, NY. Web. 12 July 2021.

This store is especially known for being super affordable for quality produce and snacks. As a college student surviving in a small dorm with limited cooking options, I found out that Trader Joe’s has a section dedicated to pre-made, pre-packaged food, ranging from veggie wraps to salads and bowls, for meat lovers, vegans,  and vegetarians. The options are endless.

“10 Must Haves Items From Trader Joe’s: Trader Joes Frozen Food, Trader Joes Food, Trader Joes Dinner.” Pinterest. Web. 12 July 2021.

Trader joes also has a bunch of affordable pre-packaged nuts, snacks, and freezer foods that are ready to heat up and be devoured. Their snacks especially were key because they are made with more whole ingredients, and also came in good sizes to store in the tiny dorm room spaces. Since many college students have microwaves along with mini-fridges in their dorms, this is a viable option. Overall, I overcame my journey to find edible meals, and instead found other various delectable meals! Those delicious meals then were options that I told my friends about that soon spread throughout campus for any college student with those dietary needs or not to eat healthy, pre-made, nutritious food at all times.

By: Hanna Mandel

Hanna Mandel studies Drama at NYU Tisch in hopes of being on the big screen one day. She hopes to venture into writing, directing, and producing. She loves to travel and explore new places, as well as trying new foods!

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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