GROCERY SHOPPING IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY
I hate grocery shopping. Despise it with every fiber of my being. Unfortunately this is a part of life that you can’t really get around. I mean let’s face it, you can only survive off of oxygen and water for so long. Here at home in Chicago, grocery shopping is a team effort between me and my mom. I take care of all of the produce and specific things I’ll need for the dinners I plan on cooking throughout the week, and she takes care of everything else. That way we can get in and out in the quickest time possible. Grocery shopping in a different country thought, that threw me for a loop though. Not having a car, dealing with a different currency, not having as many options as home. At first it posed a real challenge. Mostly because I didn’t know what to expect from the grocery stores there in Nicaragua. Although I still avoided the grocery store as much as I could, as time went on grocery shopping became increasingly easier. If you’re planning a trip or even plan on moving permanently or temporarily to a different country I think it’s important to be as prepared as possible. Not only physically but mentally. And believe me, grocery shopping can take a lot of mental work. So here are a few tips for the oh so daunting and ever important task of grocery shopping in a different country.
Know the exchange rate. Knowing how much your currency is worth in the country that you’re visiting/moving to is probably one of the most important things to research and know before you step foot into a grocery store or anywhere else where you’re making a purchase for that matter. When you already know the exchange rate you can calculate around how much an item(s) will be before you purchase it. Not only do you want to know the exchange rate before you get to whichever country you’re traveling to, but you also want to keep up with the exchange rate while you’re there. For example, when I first arrived in Nicaragua the exchange rate was around 27 cordobas (Nicaraguan money) per dollar. When I left the exchange rate had gotten up to around 29 cordobas per dollar. So keep on the look out! Thankfully we never had any problems at the grocery stores. They were always up to date with the exchange rates and it was easy to pay in dollars and get our change back in cordobas.
Shop in the local market. Now this tip will depend on what country you’re in. There may or may not be a market where you’re going. There was a market in Granada and it was about a 10 minute walk from our apartment. Anything you could think of the market had. Pots, pans, fruit, veggies, fans, phones, phone cases, clothes, hair products, and anything else you could think of. The good thing about the market is that you can negotiate the prices and they almost always have the ripest fruits and vegetables. The downside of that is if you don’t use the produce that you buy within a day or two it will more than likely go bad. I would suggest, if you’re able, to take a local with you. They will almost always get a better price than tourists. When shopping in the market it’s best if you have local currency with you. It can be a hassle trying to make sure you’re getting back the correct change and sometimes the vendors don’t have enough change to give you if you’re paying with a larger bill.
Take a taxi. For all you walkers out there……just take a taxi or whatever form of transportation they have where you are. The first time we went grocery shopping in Granada we had the smart idea of walking all of our groceries home. Our apartment was about a 20 minute walk from the grocery store. Let me just say…..bad idea. Don’t do it guys. Just don’t.
Treat yourself. My last suggestion on grocery shopping in a foreign country is treating yourself. Find something in that grocery store that’s from home or that you love and go for it. The grocery store we went to in Granada had a lot of the things we have here in the States. Of course they were more expensive because they were imported. Because we were on a budget we tried to stay away from the more expensive items, but every so often we would get ourselves a little treat. Mine was Nutella. It was close to $8 or $9 there but it was oh so worth it. Getting that little taste of home helps the transition of your stay and makes it more enjoyable.
Grocery shopping in a different country can be daunting but it also turn out to be a pleasant and interesting experience. I hope these tips help you out on your next big trip!
WHAT OTHER TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR GROCERY SHOPPING IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY?