Emporia of Evanston: a guide to inexpensive essentials
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    There are plenty of cheap college food options in Evanston. Photo by author.

    The main grocery stores at your disposal are Whole Foods, CVS, Jewel-Osco or an Northwestern C-Store. But which to choose? Here's nitty-gritty that will help you determine which fine purveyor of comestibles is best for you. For your reference, we have included the prices of some college staples — various brands of milk, Coke, Ramen and shampoo are available at each store — but keep in mind that prices change over time.

    C-Stores Depending on where you live, your closest option may be a C-Store. They are near to most dorms and stocked with a (limited) supply of deliciousness. You can use cash, points, Munch Money or a meal equivalency, but the C in C-Store might as well stand for costly instead of convenience because they are expensive. Though pricier, the expediency of C-Stores is hard to beat, and you can count on great customer service.

    Whole Foods Next in proximity to campus is Whole Foods Market. This establishment caused some debate amongst the authors, some of whom value the over-arching nutritional value of the food found here more than the money saved at less expensive venues. We all agree, however, that Whole Foods has a fabulous shopping atmosphere. The free samples offer an extra incentive to head down to the corner of Church and Chicago. Ramen at Whole Foods was much more expensive than at any of the other stores, but you do get a “healthier” meal for the price. The 365 brand, the closest Whole Foods gets to generic, often offers products that are less costly. The variety at Whole Foods is rather spectacular, and if you are looking for any unique food items, it is a good choice. Almond butter and aged Mimolette cheese are only a few of the distinctive items Whole Foods has in store. They also have a vegan version of nearly every type of food, such as Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Cookies. Just be ready to spend a little extra.

    Walk about .4 miles from the Arch, south on Chicago, right on Clark then left on Sherman, and you will hit CVS. This is a great place to get the basics. What’s more, it has a pharmacy, so you can pick up groceries and prescriptions in the same trip. Though their food selection is limited, you will find more here than at a C-Store — and make a smaller dent in your savings. CVS is an easy place to shop, but there is some serious overcharging going on here as well. However, it’s worth mentioning that both CVS and Jewel-Osco have frequent shopper cards that are free and give holders extra sales and discounts.

    Farthest away from Northwestern, but easiest on your bank account, is Jewel-Osco. It’s about a mile from the Arch, so keep this in mind as you reach for that second six-pack; you’ll have to carry it all the way back. Jewel-Osco is your run-of-the-mill grocery store, but it’s clean and has free samplings occasionally. If you are looking to buy a large amount, and if you have arranged transportation back to campus (or some friends to help you carry bags), then this is your best bet. An added bonus is that Jewel-Osco is directly across the street from Evanston’s other Whole Foods, so if Jewel-Osco doesn’t have something, you can pop over to Whole Foods and find it there.

    Each of these exceptional establishments can provide delectable foods that will certainly tide you over until that next box of cookies arrives from Grandma. Enjoy exploring each of these stores — and the extra independence that comes with shopping for yourself.

    The rundown
    Prices collected by authors. Graph by Connor Sears

    We used the 1835 Hinman C-Store for price information, the Nissin brand Ramen everywhere but Whole Foods (where we used Annie Chun’s). We compared 22 oz of Suave Everyday Clean shampoo at CVS and Jewel-Osco and used 15.5 oz Pantene and 16 oz 365 brand at the C-store and Whole Foods, respectively.

    How do the prices stack up on some of your other favorite products? Check out the fall magazine to find out!


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