By Mariam Asaad & Carolin Scholz
It is not rare to see Grinnellians staring at their P-Cards, willing their Dining Dollars and Campus Cash to turn into “real” money—a commodity of which there never seems to be enough. With our student woes in mind, we set out to Fareway, HyVee, McNally’s and Walmart on a mission to compare prices in and around town to find the grocery store that saves Grinnellians the most cash.
Unsurprisingly, Walmart was the cheapest and McNally’s the most expensive. Yet, as we all know, money is not everything—what do you do when you are craving tofu? Do you run to McNally’s, or maybe drive to Walmart? Both seem to be reasonable options, but if you really want tofu, you would be better off scouring the aisles of Fareway or HyVee. Here are some things to keep in mind on your future shopping sprees.
At Walmart, we had to actively seek help when attempting to navigate through the store. However, at all the other stores we visited, store employees who were eager to help met us almost immediately.
McNally’s, arguably the most expensive provider of food, is also the closest to campus, and offers a wider variety of fancy items, ranging from baby octopus and caviar to fancy cheeses and a changing selection of beer. It also boasts a selection of hookah tobacco and organic produce. Walmart, in comparison, had a good number of options for candy and preserved items, but, for its super-center size, a disappointing selection of fresh produce.
HyVee is employee owned and frequently publishes special deals in the local Penny Saver. It also has the most impressive deli and bakery section and carries fresh produce. And while those P-Cards won’t turn into cash, at HyVee they can result in a 5% discount on any non-tobacco purchase.
Surprisingly, Fareway tends to have cheaper liquor prices than the alternatives, which, in addition to its proximity to campus, makes it an attractive destination for Friday liquor (and grocery) runs. It also carries a collection of abnormally large cans of vegetables at reasonable prices—perfect for cooking for larger numbers of people.
Even though the search for some items proved fruitless (vegans, you better stock up in Des Moines!) we found that for a town of 10,000 people, Grinnell has decent grocery-shopping options, each outlet with its own pros and cons. Look at the accompanying table for price differences between college student staples.