You’ve got your travel book, you’ve read the websites, you’ve researched all the restaurants to try, places to visit, and things to do while studying English in San Diego or San Francisco. But perhaps you’ve forgotten one very important thing: what are you going to eat when you’re not trying tasty fish tacos, or burritos, or barbecue? CISL has put together a guide to grocery shopping for our international students who are studying English in San Diego or San Francisco.
Guide to Grocery Shopping in the United States for International Students
They are huge (that’s why they’re called “super”!) and seem to have everything you could want: a bakery, florist, butcher, and rows of household items along with food. Most supermarkets require you to be a “member” of their club in order to get the discounts on items: membership is free, but it is quite a pain because you must either carry your membership card with you when you shop or give the cashier your phone number every time you want to make a purchase.
These markets seem to have everything, but in reality, they lack a lot of specialty items. They also seem to have low prices, but many people claim that the smaller stores actually have lower prices on many items. A perk of supermarkets is the very good selection of alcohol, beer, and liquor, and another perk is convenience: you do not have to go to several stores to grocery shop.
Those who do not like supermarkets tend to shop at either Whole Foods or Sprouts. In both, you get a wider selection of more specialty items, and Sprouts has a bulk section so that you can choose how much you would like to buy on dried goods. These markets are known for having higher selections of organic foods and typically have a very good selection of meats and cheeses.
The employees of both Whole Foods and Sprouts are known for being very helpful. They encourage you to bring your own bags when you shop, and both stores are very environmentally conscious. If you like to “go green,” then these are the stores for you!
Everyone loves Trader Joe’s, and what’s not to love? This market has a laid-back atmosphere and almost makes shopping fun. In addition to the normal items you need when shopping, Trader Joe’s has a great selection of pre-made foods, which are great to grab for a quick meal. They have a nice selection of marinated meats ready to throw on the grill, lots of dips, and a great assortment of flowers. And the best part? The samples! There is almost always someone at Trader Joe’s passing out a sample of one of their items.
Trader Joe’s is also famous for its “Two Buck Chuck”: a wine from Charles Shaw. (“Chuck” is the nickname for Charles.) This two dollar wine actually won a gold medal at a California State Fair blind taste test! If you are on a budget, Trader Joe’s is a great place to grab some affordable, delicious wine.
Both San Diego and San Francisco has long lists of farmer’s markets that are definitely worth checking out. If you are interested in learning about the local produce, meats, cheeses, and artisan products from San Diego or San Francisco, (and even speak directly to the farmers) then farmer’s markets are the way to go! Check out our extensive Guide to San Francisco Farmer’s Markets and our recent post on the award-winning Hillcrest Farmer’s Market for more information.
Happy shopping to our CISL students!