Keeping Food Cheap in SF

Most people here eat out. Why? Because single, or money, or money plus single. That said, those of us stuck spending 60% or more of our income on rent can still have  night out, or a lovely meal, if we very carefully navigate the holes-in-the-wall that often serve amazing food in huge portions.  Food is an incredibly controllable expense in San Francisco. Any day of the week, any time of the year, you can find food that is fresh, cheap, and delicious. There are of course limits to this – you still need some money to eat well or at all…

Farmer’s Markets

There is a farmer’s market somewhere in San Francisco 7 days a week. Prices will vary by market – the most expensive one is of course the one on the Embarcadero, and often fresh food there goes for boutique grocery store prices. Find the smaller ones, or go to the one at Alemany.

Ethnic Markets

Thanks to spiraling rents and little to no eviction protection for longtime businesses, these are disappearing. Even so, you can still generally find plenty of Chinese markets in the Richmond district, plenty of Latina grocery stores in the Mission, and a small smattering of other ethnicities sprinkled throughout the city – but you have to be willing to look.

Safeway Club

If you want to enjoy Safeway at affordable prices you pretty much have to join their club. It reduces pricing from a direct poke in the eye to bearable, at-market food pricing. That said, Safeway is often used as a sort of meet-market on Friday and Saturday nights, especially in the Marina district. Best in and out fast for most of us.

Google Shop, Safeway Delivery

This is a more expensive option that can, to some degree, save you time or at least limit your human contact. You can, with a little fishing, have just about all goods delivered to your doorstep any day of the week. While it’s not a money saver in terms of availability, if your budget is often thrown by impulse buys this can eliminate the environment that prompts that behavior.