Eating just enough for the city

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Probably the most “chic” Goodwill I’ve ever stepped into.

If you ask anyone who’s ever lived in, visited, or even touched New York, they’ll probably all tell you one thing: It’s expensive.

Upon arrival, I’ve spent more money than I would for a whole month in Bloomington. Even Goodwill and thrift stores, which are usually my safe haven, are much pricier and stricter. (Another culture shock moment: The Goodwills in New York have security guards and actual restrictions for the dressing room!)

After a few days of being here, I’ve been feeling lost as to how I will survive without getting broke. I am stripped of my usual cooking routine, resorting to eating out frequently. Each meal has been over $10 if I wanted it to be of a better and healthier quality. If this continues, I won’t have much leftover for my last year in college. Not having enough money to enjoy my senior year is the last thing I want to worry about. (I should rename this blog Broke Girl Problems.)

A bowl of Ramen and glass of Asahi cost over $21 in Tribeca.
A bowl of Ramen and glass of Asahi cost over $21 in Tribeca.

But after the initial shock, you start learning ways to making the city affordable. There are many fun things and good foods available that are sometimes even cheaper than the average small-town Bloomington prices.

A big money-saving secret to grocery shopping is exploring the ethnic shops that only take cash, especially in neighborhoods like Harlem or Brooklyn. Not only are property prices lower, living expenses can often be relatively lower in the neighborhoods with “bad” reputations. (It really just means “too many Hispanic/Black people for tourists to handle.”) The food is not only cheaper, it’s delicious and authentic.

Thought: I should start a city survival guide, featuring home cooking recipes for the poor recent college grads who have been spoiled by ready-made food all their lives.

If you’re just not a cooker, there’s also great delicious food for only a few dollars. The Halal Guys, who probably don’t need any more publicity than they already have, is a food truck that sits on the corner of 53rd and 6th in Midtown West. There’s always a massive line in front of the tiny food truck, but the business has been so successful that they’ve developed a quick system of teamwork that allows the line to move rapidly. Each fried-rice dish with lamb, chicken, or mixed meat, is only $6 for an incredibly generous amount of food.

The falafel sandwich from Mamoun's, only $3.
The falafel sandwich from Mamoun’s, only $3.

Another discovery is a tiny place called Mamouns next to the cheaper college bars on MacDougal. The falafel sandwiches are only $3 dollars, and other options are all around that same price range.

These are just the places I’ve been able find in the short time I’ve been here. I’m sure I’ll encounter more places that will give me tiny slices of hope in this crazy city.

One thought on “Eating just enough for the city

  1. I am definitely going to keep all of this in mind for the next time I go to the big NYC! Thanks for the great tips!

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