Your NYC Guide to Buying Everyday Essentials

by Mia Chiba

One of the advantages of living in the city is the variety of stores, always stocked with your everyday needs. But as you may have already noticed, not all stores are the same. From grocery chains to drug stores to bodegas to farmers markets, here is your NYC guide to buying your intern essentials.


Trader Joes ($)


Good for:

  • Cheap + quality produce
  • Baked goods (we recommend the Cheddar Brioche)
  • Frozen meals
  • Snacks

In this NYC guide, Trader Joes will be your lifeline for groceries. If you’re inclined to cook less, Trader Joes has plenty of cheap and tasty options. There are also various premade wraps and unique snacks. Their fresh baked bread and produce sections are also really good. This is your go-to for cheap and quality groceries.

Great groceries for cheap, just know when to go to avoid crowds and lines.

The best location has to be the one on Court Street in Brooklyn, avoid the 14th Street one if you can help it. The best day to go is any day but Sunday and any time before noon. Otherwise be prepared to fight the crowd. It also helps if you bring your own reusable bags.


Farmers Markets ($-$$$)



Good for:

  • Fresh produce
  • Unique finds

Farmers markets, like bodegas, can be tricky and vary in price all depending on the location of the neighborhood. For a complete guide to NYC’s farmer’s markets read this article. They may require a bit more planning than a quick trip to the store but there is no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Farmers markets can be great places to find unique and novelty items, more often with a budget friendly price tag.

There’s usually one in Union Sq. every Saturday and too many to count in Brooklyn.


Target ($-$$)


Good for:

  • Hygiene/ living essentials
  • Cooking/baking basics

Out of toilet paper, deodorant, or band-aids? For the budget conscious, Target is where you want to get your daily essentials. Like Trader Joes, you may have to walk a bit to get to your nearest one, because of the limited number of locations. But if you have an unlimited metrocard, that shouldn’t be a problem.

For the budget conscious, Target is your go-to for daily essentials.

Target also makes for a cheap option for pantry basics, like baking soda, pasta or rice. This place pretty much has it all. With all the time you save from extra runs, you might even have time to meal prep!


Duane Reade and CVS ($$)


Good for:

  • Midnight snacks
  • Toiletry Emergencies

These drugstore can be extremely convenient. Apparently, there are over 150 locations just in Manhattan! Whether you’re craving a midnight snack or am in desperate need of some ibuprofen, they have it all.

Great for snacks or random needs at any time of the day.

The only caveat is that they tend to place slightly higher on the price scale. Ladies, foundation can start at $9 a bottle. Yikes. However, these convenience stores are generally open 24/7 for any emergency needs (like ice cream). 


Bodegas/Corner grocery stores ($-$$$)



Good for:

  • Candy
  • Snacks
  • Produce (depends)

These can be a lifesaver if any of the other options are too far away. Bodega is a Spanish term for a small scale neighborhood store or warehouse, and there are over 10,000 spread out across the 5 NYC boroughs. They’re basically a gas station without gas. Corner grocery stores tend to be more focused in the grocery department. Some even have a great variety of produce.

Bodegas are basically gas stations without gas. Corner grocery stores have more produce.

However, be warned, these can be the most expensive options for packaged food. In one bodega, we found a basic pack of Oreo’s for $7! As for fresh produce, some actually offer fairly priced seasonal fruit and vegetables. In a corner grocery store, we found a pound of organic kale for $1. So ultimately, it depends. 

Hope you enjoyed our nyc guide! For more NYC and intern guides, check out the rest of our blog. If we missed something, let us know where you find your bargains!


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