Let’s face it: on-campus food options can get old really fast and, unless you have the unlimited plan, it’s nearly impossible to eat every meal on-campus. What’s more, eating out is expensive and isn’t always the healthiest option, either. Cooking in, then, can become the cheaper alternative—especially if you know where to go. There are pros and cons to every store, and this past weekend, I trekked around Boston to present them to you on the comfort of your own computer screen.
Trader Joe’s: Tucked away on Boylston Street just across from the Prudential Center, Trader Joe’s is a college favorite for cheap, healthy food.
Pros: First of all, the atmosphere is just fun. There’s a bit of a tropical aesthetic, and despite the store’s size, there’s a decent selection of organic and health-oriented food from tons of different categories. While I wouldn’t call the prices “dirt cheap”—this is Boston, after all—you don’t feel like you’re getting scammed.
Cons: Like I said, it’s a tiny store. Hit it during the wrong hours and it’s also extremely packed. While a fifteen- to twenty-minute walk doesn’t feel too long in the fall, that same walk during the winter months might feel more like an eternity. Bundle up.
Whole Foods: Down on Cambridge Street between Beacon Hill and West End, just off the Bowdoin stop on the Blue Line, Whole Foods has long been branded as a well-to-do and therefore pricey organic alternative to other grocery stores.
Pros: The food is, without a doubt, some of the healthiest featured on this list. For vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who is conscious about eating organically and healthily, this is probably a place you want to look into. Whole Foods also has some really nice-looking to-go options, and the prices—while a little hefty—aren’t so bad, as long as you’re conscious about what you’re picking up.
Cons: This is also a fifteen-minute walk or so from campus, but while Trader Joe’s and Star Market at least have the convenience of a nearby green line stop, this Whole Foods location has no such thing. Also, meat can be almost three times as expensive as regular store-brand meat—of course, when you consider why it’s so much more expensive, it might be as much of a pro as it is a con.
Star Market: Formerly Shaw’s, this grocery store is located right next to the entrance of the Prudential Center.
Pros: The store is much bigger than other grocery stores near campus. Therefore, it also has a much bigger selection than some of the stores on this list, and it’s easier to find specific ingredients for all your cooking needs.
Cons: Due to its location, prices are a little high. Also, just like other places on this list, the fifteen- to twenty-minute walk is going to be killer in the winter—or killer on your wallet, if you plan on taking the T every time you visit.
CVS: Located right down the street from campus, everyone at Emerson’s been there at least once.
Pros: Its location. Right down the street from the main campus buildings, a trip there and back can take no more than fifteen minutes. It’s good for basic hygienic staples—paper towels, shampoo, that sort of thing.
Cons: While it’s good for snacks and staples—milk, eggs, butter, bread—you’re not going to find much else in the way of cooking. Beyond this, the store isn’t overly clean. I’ve seen my fair share of mice running around inside—eek!— and the walk over can feel dangerous at night. My advice? Go to Walgreens, past the Paramount building: it’s cleaner and has a bigger selection to boot.
Diana DiLoreto is a sophomore WLP major from Saratoga Springs, New York. If she’s not busy doing work, she’s just procrastinating. When she does have a free moment, she probably spends it checking to see if Netflix has added the next season of the show she’s binge-watching (it hasn’t), or playing horror video games with her hands over her eyes.