Take a Bite Out of Big Apple Food Costs

By: Amy Suardi writer on saving money & making life better at Frugal Mama

Even though New Yorkers pay some of the highest prices for food in the country, we are blessed with a few special resources that can help us chomp away at that giant grocery bill.

Fruit and vegetable vendors on street corners

Authorized by the city as part of a plan to foster healthier New Yorkers, you can save as much as 50% on produce by patronizing these men with carts.

My corner vendor buys his stock from the Hunts Point Wholesale Farmer’s Market in the Bronx, an initiative funded by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and led locally by the Council on the Environment of New York City, which runs retail greenmarkets throughout the city. You can read more about the Greenmarket here.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Even though farm shares are available across the USA, pick-up points are more plentiful and accessible in the City. In a CSA, you pay a local farm up front to receive a share of its harvest, a box of fresh local produce delivered to your neighborhood.

Last year, I split with a friend a farm share from Stoneledge Farm. Total cost: $10 per week for all the vegetables our family needed. Considering the food is not only organic, but also grown locally (thus cutting down on pollution), the deal is even sweeter.

Stoneledge Farm

Search Local Harvest to find a farm that delivers to a neighborhood near you. Spots fill up quickly and wait lists are common, so sign up early.

Online-Only Grocer: Fresh Direct

New Yorkers are lucky to have the convenience and cost-saving benefits of one of the nation’s first internet grocery stores. Not only will you save on time and frustration compared to the online services of brick-and-mortar supermarkets, Fresh Direct will save you money too.

I did a cost comparison between several New York grocery stores, including Food Emporium and D’Agostino’s, and Fresh Direct came out about 20% less expensive.

Even if you buy your “fresh” food elsewhere (like vegetables and fruit), you’ll spend a lot less buying cheese, meat, bread, dry goods and even wine, including lots of healthy, organic, international and gourmet selections.

Check out Fresh Direct’s President’s Picks and Brand-Name Deals for weekly specials, and sign up for promotional emails to stay informed about sales. The 6-month or 1-year unlimited delivery pass quickly pays for itself if you order more than once a month.

What about you? What are your tricks for keeping food costs small in the big city?

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