Fresh and Easy aims to simplify healthy eating

Self checkout is one of the unique features at Fresh and Easy, a new grocery chain thats rethinking food shopping .

Photo by Courtesy: Fresh and Easy

Self checkout is one of the unique features at Fresh and Easy, a new grocery chain that’s rethinking food shopping .

Some readers might be lucky enough to have their parents fronting the bill for a 20-per-week meal plan, but as for the rest of Biolans- those populating off-campus nooks and crannies- they are forced to find and prepare their own food.

Though boys never seem to tire of Carl’s Jr. and Taco Bell, most people need more than a dollar menu to survive. For the health-conscious who are on a time and money budget, a new grocery option has arrived- Fresh and Easy.

Located on Imperial Highway at Santa Gertrudes, Fresh and Easy, which opened November 14, is the American extension of Tesco, the most popular grocer in the United Kingdom and one of the top three retailers in the world, according to a Sept. 25 Fresh and Easy press release.

The concept is a far cry from the regular supermarket chains- Albertson’s, Stater Bros. and the like. It’s akin to an affordable Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s with more recognizable brands and a wide variety of pre-prepared single serving meals and side dishes.

For example, one could buy Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp for $3.99 (17 oz.) along with an organic baby leaf spring mix for $3.14 (5 oz.) to create a wholesome meal with no preparation beyond a skillet.

Fresh and Easy Chief Information Officer Doug Rutledge was at the opening of the La Mirada branch. He told The Chimes that Fresh and Easy operates on the basis of simplicity.

“We have less product selection, but they are the brands people want,” Rutledge said.

At Fresh and Easy, students can find staples they need like Oreos and Lean Cuisine as well as cleaning products and medicine.

Most stores are around 10,000 square feet which makes them easier to navigate, a plus for the college student who is sometimes overwhelmed at the thought of assembling nutritious meals. Rutledge said that Fresh and Easy’s in-house brand is produced as naturally as possible to ensure maximum freshness. Their products remain free of artificial colors, flavors and trans fats.

Following the trend set by other popular retailers, Fresh and Easy offers “customer assisted” check-out. In other words, it’s a chance to live out that childhood dream of swiping groceries, though someone else does the bagging.

Biola senior Stephanie Gallagher, who shopped at Fresh and Easy on opening day, said that “having to check out my own groceries kind of bugs me, but I think some people will like that better.”

Gallagher also pointed out that Fresh and Easy is great for Biolans because it is catered to the individual.

“I think it’s great for students that like to cook for themselves because it’s pretty cheap and there are plenty of things that serve just one person,” said Gallagher. “It’s convenient because it is smaller than the average grocery store, but I would still prefer Trader Joe’s.”

If Fresh and Easy can overcome existing brand loyalty, then it stands a fighting chance in the competitive Southland market. Fresh and Easy has plans to open nearly a hundred stores throughout California, Arizona and Nevada.

Perhaps the most important question of all is, will Fresh and Easy be able to trump the convenience of a fast food drive-through? Only time and profits will tell.

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