With more sophomores, juniors and seniors authorized to live off-campus this year due to COVID-19, many students have had to find daily off-campus meal solutions for the first time. Kroger, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are just a couple favorites from the wide variety of nearby grocery options, and Costco, The Fresh Market and Publix are great options for students looking to venture out of the city a bit. But let’s face it, we’re students, and students are looking for convenience. That’s why some opt for mixing and matching grocery vendors through delivery apps like Instacart to save time and maximize options.
We spoke with students living off campus this year to learn what draws them to a given store — whether it’s location, price, variety, a loyalty program or a mix of factors. From our initial bracket of six, three grocery stores emerged as favorites.
For sophomore Emily Song, Whole Foods is the go-to. For her, location and consistent quality are important features, however, grocery trips require some extra planning.
“I don’t have a car, so I’d say the most important factor is where the majority of my friends want to go shopping—so we can all take a trip and carpool or Uber together,” Song said.
And when driving to the store doesn’t pan out, an Amazon Prime membership can save the day. Since buying Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon has offered some valuable benefits to shoppers of the grocery chain. The various discounts and free 2-hour delivery make shopping for groceries at Whole Foods the clear winner for Song while living in Midtown. The closest Whole Foods Market is located on the corner of Broadway between 12th and 13th Avenue N. and offers delivery through Amazon.
Looking for something closer to Hillsboro? Sure enough, the largest supermarket chain in the world is here to provide. Kroger offers a close-to-campus, affordable option for Vanderbilt students in the Hillsboro Village neighborhood. With a deli, fresh produce and many household supplies, the two-story market is senior Luke De Armas’ favorite for weekly groceries.
“I like Kroger’s close location, and it has all of the basic essentials. Price is probably the most important factor for me because I pay for my own food, and it’s very important that the store has my food items in stock because I only buy the same 9-10, single ingredient items to make my food for the week,” he said.
Kroger’s digital account options offer special savings on everyday products and custom shopping lists. The closest Kroger is located on the corner of 21st Ave. S and Blair Blvd and offers delivery through Instacart and the Kroger website.
Trader Joe’s unique variety serves to bring seasonal favorites to your dinner table. Junior Olivia Justice is drawn to Trader Joe’s because its products are reasonably priced and the store is relatively close to campus if you have a car. Trader Joe’s has both Hillsboro Pike and White Bridge Road locations equidistant from campus, but does not offer delivery services. However, she said the main attraction is the food selection.
Let’s dive a little deeper with a grocery staple: eggs. If you are shopping for a dozen large white eggs, then Trader Joe’s is the way to go. Prices fluctuate often, but the $1.29 price tag is cheaper than at Kroger and Publix which sell eggs at over $2.00 a dozen, and far more affordable than Whole Foods which charges $2.99 for a carton.
Most of us mix it up a little with our food vendors. Junior Anshul Joshi stocks up on his groceries from either Trader Joe’s or Kroger, depending on the week.
“Trader Joe’s has a lot of stuff that other stores don’t carry like lots of vegetarian options and different sauces and ingredients I can cook with,” Joshi said. “On the other hand, Kroger is a short walk and has the basic, everyday items I need, so I usually switch it up between the two.”
However, despite shopping at both stores, Joshi has a clear favorite.
“Honestly, [Trader Joe’s] is the greatest grocery store in America,” he said.
When considering which store should be the winner of this bracket, we weighed several factors: variety, price and proximity to campus. After personal deliberation as well as our conversations with other students, it is clear that Nashville does not make this decision easy, offering several distinct alternatives. Whether you are searching for daily ingredients or a special seasonal delight, there is a grocery store near campus for you.
Drumroll please! We decided that Kroger is the deserving winner of the Hustler’s grocery store bracket because of its wide selection of fresh ingredients and frozen meals, affordable prices across the board and unbeatable proximity to Hillsboro Village and Vanderbilt’s campus. It offers super convenient Instacart delivery and in-store pickup, catering to those of us who have little time to get to the store or who want to err on the side of caution during this pandemic. Kroger’s keeps its customers in mind, and for that reason, it took home the gold.
Regardless of the bracket and no matter how often you shop, we recommend checking out each of the stores reviewed above to add some variety to your off campus kitchen and spice up the season ahead.