Monday, April 16, 2012

Shopping with Shayne

One of the hardest adjustments here has been grocery shopping.  If you want to eat Western meals, or things you made back home that consist of more than veggies and rice, you are looking at a part-time job in grocery shopping.  Just last week I went shopping with a friend.  In two days I went to 5 different grocery stores hunting for the items to make recipes for dinner.  This can be typical for Western expats.

Luckily, we live within walking distance (about 10-15 minutes) of 2 international stores.  If I am willing to go on a hike and haul bags, there are three other stores within a 30 minute walk.  There are other larger stores, but they require the driver or some other form of transportation. 

Things I have learned about shopping:
1.  There is no one (or even two) stores for everything you want/need.
2.  Bring your own bags, otherwise you pay for plastic bags.
3.  Be prepared to shell out some money for imported items.
4.  If you see something you may want, even if it is not on your current menu, buy it and buy multiples.  You never know if, when, or where you may see it again. You should also call you friends and see if they want you pick some up for them!
5.  Fruits, veggies, and eggs should all be purchased at a wet market.  They are WAY cheaper there than a store.
6. Finally, and most important, save all the heavy items for the weekend when you darling husband is home to lug the heavy bags!!

Here is a little taste of grocery shopping in Suzhou:

Milk.  It comes in boxes, non-refrigerated.  This particular brand in from New Zealand.  We have also tried milk from France and Germany.  Cost: 21.80 RMB = $3.46

Soup in general is expensive here. I have only seen Cream of Mushroom at one store, occasionally in stock. Now if I wanted Oxtail soup, I would be good to go.  Cost: 12.80 RMB = $2.03
Ketchup in bag!

If you know me, I have a thing for soda.  Well, mostly fountain soda, but even restaurants serve canned soda here.  Typically your choices are Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, or Fanta.  I won't deny that I have paid $2.50 for a can of Dr. Pepper at a restaurant. Totally worth it.  Anyway, to my surprise I found cans of Cherry Coke and Root Beer at a store.  When I went I bought 1 can of Cherry Coke, was it there when I went back, of course not. Refer to lesson #4.  Cost for 1 can: 7.20 RMB = $1.14

We were having guests over for lunch and I wanted to make a dessert.  The Chinese do not bake.  Most Chinese do not have an oven, nor do many of them even know how to work one.  So, if you want to bake, expect to pay big bucks.  There is no generic brand of chocolate chips I have seen.  Cost: 43.80 RMB = $6.95

The Chinese also do not eat cereal.  So, cereal = expensive.  Cost: 43.50 RMB = $6.90 and this was one of the cheaper ones!

I had a really hard time finding sunflower seeds not in the shell.  I don't know how many stores I looked in.  When I finally found some, it was at the bulk store. I am now the proud owner of a kilogram of sunflowers seeds.

To the wet market!!

I don't really know what kind of nuclear bean this is, but it was huge.  The lady laughed at me when I explain I only wanted one.

You can get all kinds of eggs at the market.  I stick to the chicken egg.  Cost: 1 RMB = $0.16/egg
Longest cucumbers ever.
Mystery fruit


  1. You need one of those two wheeled shopping carts to haul things home. Do they make a stroller with an attachable grocery compartment for when the baby comes.

    1. I can't remember what our stroller has. I will be using the driver much more frequently when baby comes.

  2. Are you sure that's a fruit? I think we are one of the only countries that likes their milk cold...

    1. I did actually ask someone what it was, but it totally escapes me now. Not only do we like our milk cold, but switching to the metric system would also be nice.