One of the most difficult adjustments to living in New Zealand was getting past the initial phase of sticker shock at the grocery store. Across the board, grocery prices are much higher than in the US. Even after accounting for the fact that their prices already include tax, then converting the prices to US Dollars in your head, many of their items still leave you stunned. The biggest shock may have been for tomatoes last winter, right when we got here:
Did they just put the decimal point in the wrong place???
Those stickers say $17.89/Kg. A Kg is 2.2 pounds, so these bad boys are almost $9/pound.
(Don't any of you get any bright ideas that I'll pay you $9/pound for tomatoes back in Missouri...I didn't do it here either! This was one I just couldn't accept.)
Out-of-season tomatoes actually just cost that much! That was just unreal to me. They have since come down to a more comprehensible price range, but have been creeping up steadily as winter has set in.
The first trip to the grocery store took two laps. The first lap consisted of looking at normal items I'd usually buy, and immediately putting them back on the shelf thinking 'looks like I"m not eating that for a year' because the price was basically the airport price equivalent we'd pay in the US. Ya know how everything is at least twice the real price at the airport? It was just like that. But after finishing my first lap with a basically empty cart, it was time to go back through the store with gritted teeth to buy my real groceries.
This has now become very normal, because that's just how much things cost.
I always like to go to grocery stores in foreign countries to see what they have, how much things cost, what flavors of chips they have, etc. There are usually some fun surprises. New Zealand has a lot of similar products, some of them with a fun twist.
***Disclaimer: You are only allowed to continue reading this post if you promise not to judge me on any of my eating habits and also promise to not mistake my pantry for official medical dietary recommendations.***
For example, you can find enormous chocolate bars here. This thing is probably $6-8.
And these are cheese rolls! I"ve mentioned them before on the blog. They are kind of like a rolled up grilled cheese ( you toast these) only with cheese, onion soup mix, sometimes cream cheese?
And they have crumpets! I actually haven't even eaten these yet. I just bought them today for the first time. I hear they are kind of a cross between a pancake and an English muffin. You can put jelly, or nutella, or butter, really anything you want on them. We'll see how this goes.
Ya know how some people post a picture of their huge pile of groceries to tell you how they were so clever with their coupons and actually made $0.30 by taking all that food out of the grocery store??? Well, this is the exact opposite.
Many Grocery stores have an 'international section'. There is often a section that I guess is the USA section, because it will have an assortment of treats that usually tempt me into buying them. Today's treasures were clearly the marshmallow creme and the nutter butters! My heart actually fluttered when I saw these. The rest of the grocery run was a blur after I had those in my basket.
Other 'American' treasures often featured include single cans of Dr. Pepper or A&W rootbeer for $2 each, a 2-pack of Reese's peanut butter cups for $2, and M&Ms for various prices.
The chicken breasts above cost $10 for three of them. $11/Kg = $6.50/Lb Have a closer look:
Whole chickens can also be quite expensive, $12-18 depending on the size.
Meat in general is higher here than at home. Pork Chops are $15/lb. Burger (mince) is usually $10/kg, I think.
Luckily I've been able to supplement my meat intake with fishing and red stag! ...even if I haven't gotten a stag yet.... sore subject.... moving on.
Soda is another one that can be very expensive unless you get large bottles.
2-2.25 liter bottle = $2.29 on sale. $5 regular
1.5 liter bottle - 3/$5 on sale, $3 regular
20-ounce equivalent = $4.20-4.90 in the gas station! (often with the 1.5 being cheaper)
Can in the gas station = $2-2.5
18-pack cans = $20 easily.
Pepsi is usually cheaper than Coke here, so you can often get a 20-oz bottle for $3 instead of $4-something.
Last week, I had my first official 'I really really just want a SunDrop' moment in the soda aisle, and just left without anything out of disappointment.
Here's another haul from a few days ago, when I was in a pizza-making mood over the weekend:
Grand total: $28.12
Not bad, really. Pizza crusts are usually $3-5 for 2 or 3 of them. Pizza sauce in those little cups only $3. I already had some pepperoni at home ($8/log). Shredded Cheese = $8.
Speaking of cheese, it is common to just get big blocks of cheese to use for everything. 1Kg of cheese, in various flavors is usually about $10. They don't make one for mozarella though, so that's where the bag of shredded cheese comes in....
And there's no Velveeta, which has been hard for me. I'm sure you can sympathize. These people don't know what they're missing. But I do. I know, and I miss.
You may have also noticed the BBQ Doritos in that picture. They also have plain salted doritos here too. And Teriyaki flavor. They're all pretty good, but there's no Cool Ranch, unfortunately. That little bag costs $2.50, which is a sale price. That's pretty standard. Other brands/varieties can sometimes be found 3/$5.
Avocados as above: range from $1.50 to $3 each
Brussels sprouts (thank you to Emily Doucette for getting me hooked on these before I got here!) = $7/Kg
Grapes were $6/Kg
Green Peppers are another tricky one. Sometimes they're about $1 each.
Other times they can be $4 each. Yikes.
And here are a few more staples to round out the list:
$3. I'm so glad this exists here.
Typical cans of soup are about $3-5 depending on what it is. They make a lot more pumpkin soup-type recipes here.
As Mexican as it usually gets: $4?
Can of Refried Beans : $4.
that popcorn hiding in the background: $1.50/bag?
Cereal. They have WAY fewer sugary, fruity cereals, and a lot more 'healthy' cereals here...booooo. Typical prices range from $5-8 per box, with the unhealthy ones being more expensive... who's running this place??? That is too responsible! I splurge for some FruitLoops every once in a while.
Milk to go with your cereal will run you about $4 for 2 liters (half-gallon). about double the price at home.
And Juice will be about $6 for one of these big guys 2.8 liters.
And that's what it takes to fill your belly here in New Zealand. I am probably going to go nuts in the grocery store when I get back to the States. The combination of low prices and things I haven't eaten for a year will be more than I will be able to handle. I might need some help keeping this under control. Remember: Friends don't let friends binge eat more than once a day. If I gain 20 pounds right off the bat, I blame you.