While UC Santa Cruz encourages students to invest in a meal plan, a seven-day meal plan that costs $464 per month is not always the cheapest or most accessible option for students. Those without meal plans and those who live off campus have to shop at grocery stores around Santa Cruz and cook at home. Here is a comparison between three major grocery stores’ prices for 11 of the same or equivalent items commonly found in a college student’s shopping basket.
* Each item provided is the least expensive of product options available at the store.
$2.49 or 3/$5.00
$4.99 or 2/$5.00
Safeway: 2111 Mission St.
Safeway is accessible by buses 19, 15 and 16. Open 21 hours daily, from 5-2 a.m., it houses a pharmacy, bakery, deli and Starbucks. It is known for carrying name-brand items and purchases are often cheaper by buying in bulk or signing up for a Safeway Club Card.
Trader Joe’s: 700 Front St.
Trader Joe’s is arguably the most accessible to students because of its proximity to the Metro Center. It can be reached on buses 10, 66 and 71 at the Front & Soquel stop or students can walk there after taking any bus to the metro. If students choose to drive, there is free parking. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Grocery Outlet: 120 Morrissey Blvd.
Grocery Outlet is a discount grocery store that buys excess inventory from other retailers. This makes its prices generally lower than other stores. Due to this process shoppers may find that the brands it carries differ based on intake. Grocery Outlet can be reached by taking the 66, 69a, 69W or 71 buses and getting off at the Soquel Avenue & Frederick stop. It may be the most out of the way from campus of the three stores — individuals coming from UCSC must transfer buses at the Metro Center. Grocery Outlet is about 12-15 minutes from campus if shopping with a car and has a smaller parking lot than the other two stores. Its hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.