Safer Grocery Shopping Guide During the COVID-19

Grocery shopping has been even more difficult during the pandemic, but here are some tips!
Dec 2020
Kristin
C.
System Design and Management

I never thought that getting good food without a car would be difficult in my life since I lived in Taipei before moving to Cambridge. In Taipei, you’ll see convenience stores everywhere because Taiwan has the highest density per capita of convenience stores in the world. A five-minute walk in Taipei can get me anything that I need in my life. Therefore, it was a cultural shock when I first moved to Westgate Graduate Housing at MIT, where the nearest Trader Joe’s requires a walk of at least 20 minutes. Grocery shopping has been even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. The only time many of us are leaving the dorm/house is to go to the grocery store—a once routine task that is now fraught with anxiety about risk of infection. Grocery runs during the pandemic should indeed be limited, and there are safety precautions that we should keep in mind. Here’s my grocery guide and tips for safer grocery shopping during the pandemic:    

Grocery Stores & Ways to get there

1. HMart (Walking/Biking/Subway/Online)

Korean supermarket in Central Square where you can find foods imported from Korea. I choose to bike to HMart when I miss Asian foods and need to run errands such as delivering and mailing packages at USPS (which is conveniently located in Central Square). 

  • Location: 581 Massachusetts Ave

  • Subway: Central Square – Red Line

  • Blue Bike Station: Central Square at Mass Ave/ Essex St

  • Online: https://www.hmart.com/ordering/

2. Super 88 Market (Walking/Biking) 

Super 88 Market is one of my favorite markets to go when I miss Asian foods. They have reasonable prices for Asian snacks and groceries, and you can even get mooncake, pork floss for congee, rice dumpling, etc. It’s a place that reminds me of Asia. They also have a food court where you can get bubble tea and all kinds of Asian meals.

  • Location: 1 Brighton Ave

  • Subway: Pleasant Street – Green Line

  • Blue Bike Station: Commonwealth Ave at Agganis Way

3. Star Market (Biking/Subway/Online)

Star Market has the best price for meat, and it’s close to Super 88 Market. I often do grocery shopping at Star Market and Super 88 Market when I do my weekly 40-minute run. Running with a mask is recommended during the pandemic.

  • Location: 1065 Commonwealth Ave

  • Subway: Pleasant Street – Green Line

  • Blue Bike Station: Commonwealth Ave at Agganis Way

  • Online: https://www.starmarket.com

4. Brothers Marketplace (Walking/Biking) 

Brothers Marketplace is the place that I go if I want to grab a dessert on campus. I seldom do grocery shopping there because the price is higher compared to other markets. They post their 1-week sale on their website every week.

  • Location: 1 Broadway

  • Subway: Kendall Square – Red Line

  • Blue Bike Station: Kendall T & One Broadway/Kendall Sq at Main St/3rd St

5. TechMart (Walking/Biking/MIT Tech Shuttle/Subway)

TechMart is operated by MIT for students to buy low-cost ingredients. I like to shop at TechMart due to the convenience. The fruit are fresh and cheap, and sometimes they give them to students for free at the end of the day.

  • Location: 142 Memorial Dr

  • Subway: Kendall Square – Red Line

  • Blue Bike Station: Kendall T

6. Trader Joe’s (Walking/Biking/Campus Grocery Shuttles)

Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle is my favorite place to go. Frozen food makes my life easier and most of them cost less than five dollars! You only need to put it into a microwave, and you can continue your schoolwork.

  • Location: 748 Memorial Dr

  • Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods Shuttle

  • Blue Bike Station: Lower Cambridgeport at Magazine St / Riverside Rd

7. Whole Foods (Walking/Biking/Campus Grocery Shuttles)

In my opinion, Whole Foods sells the highest quality organic products. Amazon Prime membership get Whole Foods discount, so remember to apply for the Prime membership using your MIT email! You’ll get a six-month trial and Prime Student membership makes you eligible to receive 50% off Amazon Prime!

  • Location: 340 River St

  • Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods Shuttle

  • Blue Bike Station: Lower Cambridgeport at Magazine St / Riverside Rd

8. Costco (Campus Grocery Shuttles/Online)

I enjoy my ride to Costco on Sundays. Buy in bulk at Costco is my way to save on food and beverage. Just a heads up, you will need to get a membership to shop at Costco. Although MIT Costco Card Program shut down a few years ago, you can borrow a Costco card from the service desks in some of the dorms at MIT. 

General Grocery Shopping Tips

  1. Wear a mask and keep 6-feet social distance

  2. Wipe down cart handles before/after use (most grocery stores offer sanitary wipes)

  3. Wash with soap and water once you return home

  4. Sanitize upon arriving and leaving grocery store (even your phones, keys, reusable grocery bags and other personal belongings should be sanitized after you arrived home)

  5. Wipe down surfaces where you unpack your groceries

  6. Follow directions in the grocery stores, which may be temporarily marking the walking direction of shoppers down each aisle

  7. Order online if possible

After listing the eight supermarkets that I often go to, I recommend doing grocery shopping at Costco because you can stock two weeks’ worth of non-perishable food. It’s smart to do less grocery shopping during a pandemic, and since that entering Costco would need a membership, there may be fewer people than other supermarkets. However, it would take around 30-40 minutes if you take the Costco Grocery Shuttle, which is two to three times more travel time than traveling to other supermarkets. I often do grocery shopping at Hmart during Midterms and Finals when schoolwork is heavy to save more time (time-cost tradeoffs). But wherever you choose to do the grocery shopping, please wear masks and keep yourself safe during this usual time!