C'ville groceries 101

Buying food in and around town

So yeah, I’m writing about grocery stores. They don’t sound that exciting at first, but I promise, grocery stores are where the magic happens. Even if you have a meal plan, even if you hate to cook, even if you’re happy with Bodo’s for every single meal, it only helps to know the low-down of where to buy your food. If you don’t have a car, your family will come into town eventually, and you’ll want some fresh food at your disposal. If you’re a veteran of C’ville grocery emporiums, let me know if you’ve checked out every single spot on this list. For the purposes of this article and my own entertainment, I’ve ranked each one on a scale of one (least preferable) to five (most preferable).

Trader Joe’s, 5 — We all love it here. Trader Joe’s has the organic, bougie health food without the organic, bougie prices. Every product is produced by Trader Joe’s, so there’s no middle man, which means lower prices and pretty unique products. I highly recommend the fried mac and cheese bites, the lobster ravioli, the white chocolate peppermint pretzels and literally everything else. Also, for those of us over 21, expect fantastic things in their wine selection

Harris Teeter, 4 — Perhaps the closest legitimate grocery store to Grounds, Harris Teeter is enormous and super accessible. Solid selection, solid hot bar, solid distance.

Kroger, 3 — There is nothing wrong with Kroger, but it just doesn’t have the same artisan touch as the other locations on the list. It is definitely the most affordable. They carry everything you’d expect. It’s super close. If you buy your own groceries, try here first.

Whole Foods, 2.5 — Is the food here amazing? Yes. Is there a reason this place is nicknamed “Whole Paycheck?” Also yes. If you’re into super clean and local, but expensive cooking, I’d send you here. Though I should note that it wins an extra 0.5 points for its extensive hot bar — the only thing Trader Joe’s lacks.

Wegmans, 5 — OMG, Wegmans! It’s the only place to make me question (and subvert) my allegiance to Trader Joe’s. I went to Wegmans last Sunday and just wandered around for 45 minutes, after I had found everything on my list. They have so many wonderful Wegmans-made products and they carry all the brand names. Also, Wegmans is brand new to C’Ville!

Foods of All Nations, 3.8 — This is the place for my first-year roommate who loved kombucha and beets and whatever else people from Denver, Colo. are into. It has an incredible selection of international foods but can be a little overwhelming for simpletons like myself. This is the place to go to try something new!

Integral Yoga Natural Foods, 3.5 — If Portland, Ore. was a grocery store, it would be Integral Yoga. They do have a particularly awesome smoothie bar in the back and it’s within walking distance of Grounds if you’re into that kind of stuff!

Charlottesville City Market, 3 — This place would rank higher if I was a real adult with a real salary, but my job as a research assistant doesn’t really cover hand-picked raspberries every week. I give this a 5 for quality and a 1 for the likelihood of me waking up early on a Saturday and spending lots of money on things I can eat in one sitting.

Groceries stores are definitely less exciting than hiking trails, puppy ranches and fantastic restaurants, but they are an important staple for adults and we are all almost adults. Try out each one, find your favorite and enjoy having real food in your fridge.

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