Portland may be food cart city, but few of us can afford to eat out three square meals a day. Eventually, you’re going to need a reliable, reasonably priced grocery to stock your closet-sized dorm kitchen. What follows is a sampling of grocers—some close, some requiring transit—and their relative qualities:
PSU Food Pantry
Pros: Free with PSU student ID. You can take five non-perishable items every day, Monday through Friday, but veggies, breads, and fridge items don’t count toward your five. The fridge often has eggs, yogurt or frozen bags of veg. It’s an outstanding service managed by student volunteers. Be sure to thank them for their time when you go.
Cons: None, really. The line can be long, but for those trying to graduate without student loan debt, it’s well worth it. The pantry won’t carry everything as a grocery store would, but you get to be creative with what they do. The two hours of operation is a relatively narrow window, but hopefully you can fit a visit or two into your weekly schedule.
Where: Smith Memorial Student Union 047A, in the basement.
When: Monday–Friday, 12:30–2:30 p.m.
Pros: If you can get there, WinCo offers the lowest prices of any local grocery and a kickass bulk section for those interested in actual cooking. Spices, rices, nuts and many others can be purchased in the amount you choose at the best prices around for the quality. For this writer, a trip to the WinCo bulk section is more fun than a kid’s day at a candy store. Also, WinCo is open all night for the sleep-averse shopper.
Cons: The produce section can be a bit hit-and-miss for quality, and the non-food items are often as expensive as anywhere else. It’s also not the most convenient location in relation to campus.
Where: Easiest from PSU: Take the MAX east to the 99th Street transfer station and walk two blocks to 1950 NE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97230. Also in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard, SE Powell, and Happy Valley.
When: Open 24/7.
Pros: The Zebe carries a fine selection of quality specialty items, especially for the vegan eater. They make Bunk sandwiches to order, and the excellent prepared items in the chiller are reasonably priced. Students get a 10 percent discount on produce every Wednesday, and the store is literally steps from campus, directly across the street from Cramer Hall.
Cons: Green Zebra packs a punch for its modest floor space but doesn’t carry all the items you would find in a larger supermarket. Some prices are set in the upper range but many are reasonable.
When: 7 a.m.–10 p.m., Monday–Friday; 8 a.m.–9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
Where: 1704 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201; plus two others throughout Portland.
Safeway on 10th Avenue
Pros: If you don’t mind gambling with your life, Safeway is always entertaining due to its clientele and is located within easy walking distance, just three blocks north of campus. It’s a full-service grocery store with everything you’d find in a suburban supermarket. Open late.
Cons: Prices are a bit exaggerated compared to other stores, and you need their club card or app to get sale prices. Try not to trip over the folks lingering outside the entrances. The people who work there deserve extra hazard pay, especially after 9 p.m. Seriously.
Where: 1010 SW Jefferson St, Portland, OR 97201; various others throughout Portland.
When: 5 a.m.–1 a.m., seven days a week.
Fred Meyer Burnside
Pros: Excellent produce section, great sale prices, expansive variety of items.
Cons: At 1.4 miles from campus, it’s a brisk walk getting there and an ambitious shoulder workout carrying those groceries home, but there’s a Trimet bus stop out front if you prefer transportation.
Where: 100 NW 20th Place, Portland, OR 97209; various others throughout Portland.
When: 7 a.m.–11 p.m., seven days a week.
Whole Foods on Couch
Pros: Got the cash and want to eat organic? Whole Foods has gourmet and specialty items galore—particularly vegan-friendly. Top notch quality everything. You can get there by streetcar and a short walk.
Cons: Pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Where: 1210 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209; various others throughout Portland.
When: 7 a.m.–10 p.m., seven days a week.