Thursday, Sep 30, 2016
I have been wanting to show the prices of some items here so you can get an idea of the cost of living in Ecuador. Today is that day. Personally, I think many travel magazines down play what items cost here, and hence what the cost of living in Ecuador is really like.
Much of the reason some items are so outrageously priced is due to import tax. Most every brand name item you are familiar with will be priced double to quadruple here…if you can find it at all. In some cases there are other local brands (ie. from China or other countries without the import tax) that cost considerably less. The quality of many hard-good type comparable items, although cheaper, is often times really poor.
The grocery item pics are from Mi Comisariato and SuperMaxi. In another post I will show some appliance, household, and electronic items. There are thousands of things I could have taken a pic of, so just realize I’m only showing you a sliver of the merchandise for sale.
Taking pictures of things inside a store is frowned upon. So, I’m usually snapping quickly and on the sly. I did get caught once. The manager followed me out and stopped me, asking what I was doing. That was a fun conversation…not.
Let’s start with the grocery store…
At the farmer’s market I am charged anywhere from $1.20 to $1.40 a dozen, plus they are fresh.
The artificial colors and highly processed grains are more than the natural cereal.
Cheese other than Queso Fresco is hard to find here. Supermaxi probably carries the best selection, but even then, there are only a couple of choices. We did find a cheese store in El Centro that has good cheese and also a nice selection.
Who could afford the rest of Thanksgiving after buying the turkey? The roasted chicken isn’t bad at $5.59. I’ve seen them over $8.
I like getting my meat freshly cut at the farmer’s market. Never any freezer burn.
Peanut Butter Is The New Gold Here…
The very first item I bought in Ecuador was a jar of peanut butter, along with some other groceries the first day we arrived in our new place.
I had paid over $10 for a medium-sized jar of Skippy, I believe. The bottle of wine I bought was only $6. It was right then I knew things were going to be different from what seemed to be conveyed about prices in Ecuador.
I did learn to buy my peanut butter at the farmer’s market. It is somewhere around $1.80 to $2 a pound and it’s delicious. Part of living in Ecuador is just knowing where and how to buy things.
Honey is expensive too, but not on the scale of peanut butter. There are many people who sell natural honey in the mercados. The first honey I bought locally was put into empty Johnny Walker Red whisky bottles. Maybe that’s why it tasted so good. 😉
Some spices are expensive here. Black pepper is hard to find and when I do, it is grossly expensive to me. Red aji pepper (similar to cayenne) is very cheap and I love it.
Garlic powder is ridiculous. We buy fresh garlic cloves from the market and dice, slice, and saute our way to garlic bliss. Downside is Heidi refuses to give me a kiss. 😉
Many sauce-type condiments come in squeezable pouches and not bottles. I had to get used to it, but now mustard, mayo, and ketchup is all purchased in the pouch.
We don’t eat many nuts here. Almonds used to be our go to snack in the States. I suspect there isn’t an almond tree to be had in Ecuador, hence the price. I think some bulk nuts are available in the mercado at Feria Libre. I’ll have to look and see how much they are.
I like the tuna here. Did you know Manta, Ecuador is the tuna capital of the world? Ritz crackers, being a Brand Name, is reasonably priced here. I’m curious why.
I try not to buy produce in the grocery store. I much prefer the farmer’s market. Dragon fruit or pitahaya (yellow bumpy fruit above) is bigger and cheaper at the farmer’s market. I do buy sliced mushrooms and bagged lettuce leaves at the supermarket.
And Then There Are the Random Items…
I’ve recently stopped using Sweet and Low. I now use Stevia. There are issues, trying to find a powder form that isn’t cut with a lot of dextrose, but it is a better choice.
Since coming to Ecuador I gave up my diet Coke habit. I miss it sometimes but now I enjoy Heidi’s “witches brew” to drink every day, made with pineapples, bananas, ginger, guayusa leaves, and black tea to just name a few of the ingredients.
I like Bailey’s in my coffee in the evening. When I went to get some at the store for the first time I almost had a heart attack. Since then, I have found a reasonable substitute for about $15.
Let Them Eat Cake…or Not
Remember that cake we bought for Heidi’s birthday? It was about the price of the one above, and tasted awful! Heidi made my birthday cake…I’m so lucky. 🙂
When I was a kid, my grandmother who grew up extremely poor during the depression, used to rip a napkin in half when I asked for one. Well, with the price of paper towels and paper goods here, it crossed my mind. And I thought grandma was crazy. 😉
The good dish soap, the kind that will suds well, comes in a paste. Instead of squeezing a bottle, I scoop soap out of a container. It was weird for me to get used to. Laundry soap almost entirely comes in a plastic bag, from small to gargantuan. No boxes here.
Now that I don’t shower or brush my teeth since moving to Ecuador, I don’t pay much attention to these. 😉
There Is More…
I hope you get an idea of the kind of products available, and what you will pay for them, shopping in the grocery stores here. I try to stay away from the supermarkets because they remind me too much of being in the States. I’ve come to need a certain amount of chaos and microbes in my environment.
Next post I will show some of the hard goods and electronics.