Author Topic: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation  (Read 8042 times)

englishteacheralex

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The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« on: October 25, 2016, 03:19:34 PM »
I've lived on Oahu for my entire adult life, since I graduated from college in 2003. All of my personal grocery shopping has been done on an island that imports some enormous percentage of its food. I never really suffered sticker shock from living here, because I don't have much basis for comparison...except my husband and I go home to visit family and we sail through the grocery store putting everything in our cart because it all seems FREE SO CHEAP LOOK AT ALL THE ALMOST FREE FOOD HA HA HA HA WE CAN GET ANYTHING WE WANT!

We keep a detailed and rigorous monthly budget, and this month is about to be a record low for food, for which we are gleefully proud. Only $450 for the month so far (we're a family of two adults and one toddler) and we're almost done! Only $43 for restaurants! Our allocated monthly food budget is $650 for groceries/$100 for restaurants, down from $700 for groceries/$200 for restaurants when I first started reading MMM's blog in June.

But...when I read mainland grocery budgets of <$400 for families of four, I become discouraged. I thought I'd post some typical food prices for staples here (these prices are all for the non Organic, non brand name food we typically buy) to see if I have a good excuse.

Bananas: $.39/banana at Target, $1.19/lb at Safeway, $1.50 for a bunch of 5-7 at Costco
Apples: anywhere from $2/lb to 3.49/lb at Safeway, about $10 for a flat of 10 at Costco
Lettuce: $5 for 1-2 heads of romaine at Safeway, $5 for 5 heads of romaine at Costco
Chicken breasts: $5-7/lb at Safeway, $3.50/lb at Costco
Ground beef: $4/lb at Safeway, $3/lb at Costco
Pork shoulder: never bought this at Safeway, $2.50/lb at Costco
Bread: $6/bagged loaf of commercial bread at Safeway, $7/two loaves of the same bread at Costco
Milk: $5.19/gallon at Target, $4.49/gallon at Costco
Cabot Cheddar Cheese: 2 lb block for $10 at Costco (we buy this a lot)
Chobani Yogurt: $6-$8/pint Target, $6 for the big size at Costco (not sure how many ounces are in the Costco jug, but it's bigger than the Target one)

Are you gasping with horror at our grocery prices? Or thinking Oahu isn't as bad for groceries as you've heard? I'm curious.

Jack

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2016, 03:34:40 PM »
Most of those prices are higher than here in Atlanta, but not by the margin I would have expected. The pork is about the same and the beef is cheaper.

Often, the way to eat cheaper is to eat locally and/or in-season. How much is taro?

swick

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2016, 03:54:25 PM »
Your prices are about on par, cheaper in some cases, than what we pay in B.C. Canada.

Carma

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2016, 04:07:46 PM »
Your prices are about on par, cheaper in some cases, than what we pay in B.C. Canada.
Was just about to say this...prices look good to me! In fact, the meat prices are fairly low compared to what I find at the grocery stores in a small town in central BC.

acroy

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2016, 04:11:37 PM »
DW and I dream of HI - the big island though ;)
Honestly those prices don't look too bad. some comments below!
Both times we visited HI, we were astounded that a head of lettuce was $4.99, but a pineapple was $.99. If we lived there we'd eat a lot of pineapple....

Bananas: $.39/banana at Target, $1.19/lb at Safeway, $1.50 for a bunch of 5-7 at Costco - not terrible
Apples: anywhere from $2/lb to 3.49/lb at Safeway, about $10 for a flat of 10 at Costco - $2/lb is not terrible, what we pay in off season
Lettuce: $5 for 1-2 heads of romaine at Safeway, $5 for 5 heads of romaine at Costco - $1/head is ok. $5/head is nuts.
Chicken breasts: $5-7/lb at Safeway, $3.50/lb at Costco
Ground beef: $4/lb at Safeway, $3/lb at Costco
Pork shoulder: never bought this at Safeway, $2.50/lb at Costco
^^ all the meat prices are not bad honestly.
Bread: $6/bagged loaf of commercial bread at Safeway, $7/two loaves of the same bread at Costco - Crazy. Get yourself a bread maker or find a day-old bread place.
Milk: $5.19/gallon at Target, $4.49/gallon at Costco - crazy, stop drinking milk! :)
Cabot Cheddar Cheese: 2 lb block for $10 at Costco (we buy this a lot) - whew, also pretty spendy
Chobani Yogurt: $6-$8/pint Target, $6 for the big size at Costco (not sure how many ounces are in the Costco jug, but it's bigger than the Target one) - yeah that's pretty spendy

Are you gasping with horror at our grocery prices? Or thinking Oahu isn't as bad for groceries as you've heard? I'm curious.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2016, 04:20:55 PM »
DW and I dream of HI - the big island though ;)
Honestly those prices don't look too bad. some comments below!
Both times we visited HI, we were astounded that a head of lettuce was $4.99, but a pineapple was $.99. If we lived there we'd eat a lot of pineapple....

Bananas: $.39/banana at Target, $1.19/lb at Safeway, $1.50 for a bunch of 5-7 at Costco - not terrible
Apples: anywhere from $2/lb to 3.49/lb at Safeway, about $10 for a flat of 10 at Costco - $2/lb is not terrible, what we pay in off season
Lettuce: $5 for 1-2 heads of romaine at Safeway, $5 for 5 heads of romaine at Costco - $1/head is ok. $5/head is nuts.
Chicken breasts: $5-7/lb at Safeway, $3.50/lb at Costco
Ground beef: $4/lb at Safeway, $3/lb at Costco
Pork shoulder: never bought this at Safeway, $2.50/lb at Costco
^^ all the meat prices are not bad honestly.
Bread: $6/bagged loaf of commercial bread at Safeway, $7/two loaves of the same bread at Costco - Crazy. Get yourself a bread maker or find a day-old bread place.
Milk: $5.19/gallon at Target, $4.49/gallon at Costco - crazy, stop drinking milk! :)
Cabot Cheddar Cheese: 2 lb block for $10 at Costco (we buy this a lot) - whew, also pretty spendy
Chobani Yogurt: $6-$8/pint Target, $6 for the big size at Costco (not sure how many ounces are in the Costco jug, but it's bigger than the Target one) - yeah that's pretty spendy

Are you gasping with horror at our grocery prices? Or thinking Oahu isn't as bad for groceries as you've heard? I'm curious.

We totally have a bread maker, buy the 25 lb bag of bread flour, bulk yeast, and never buy bread, but I put that on there as a starch staple.

Milk...sadly, this is actually what made me post this. I've started to suspect our milk prices are really high. Our 2-year-old LOVES him some whole milk and we've started watering it down to make it last.

The yogurt seems really high to me, too, but since milk is so expensive it seems like making our own wouldn't be cost effective. And I really like yogurt.

Pineapple isn't actually that cheap, usually, unless they are running a sale, and almost no pineapple sold here would be local because there are very few pineapple farms anymore...the problem with buying local in Hawaii is that agriculture is so limited here (the price of land makes it generally not worthwhile) that local produce is just expensive or more expensive than imported produce. One example: I buy local tomatoes because they taste better, but a container of five local tomatoes is $5 at Target. I don't even remember how much tomatoes cost on the mainland, but I don't think they're that much.

Poi/Taro is expensive! Farming that stuff is super labor intensive. Also, I don't really like it.

johnny847

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2016, 04:26:24 PM »
Most of those prices are higher than here in Atlanta, but not by the margin I would have expected. The pork is about the same and the beef is cheaper.

Often, the way to eat cheaper is to eat locally and/or in-season. How much is taro?

How big a margin were you expecting exactly? I too live in Atlanta if you recall....

Bananas: $0.49/lb at Walmart
Apples: depends on the kind ofc but about $2/lb at Hmart
Chicken breasts: $1.89/lb at Sam's club, $2.29/lb at Hmart, with periodic coupons at Hmart for $1.79/lb
Ground beef: depends on the % fat ofc but I think it was $3/lb at Target? Don't quote me on this one
Bread: $2.50-$3 for a 24 oz loaf of multigrain bread
Milk: $3/gal

I don't buy the other stuff

acroy

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2016, 04:34:50 PM »
We totally have a bread maker, buy the 25 lb bag of bread flour, bulk yeast, and never buy bread, but I put that on there as a starch staple.

Milk...sadly, this is actually what made me post this. I've started to suspect our milk prices are really high. Our 2-year-old LOVES him some whole milk and we've started watering it down to make it last.

The yogurt seems really high to me, too, but since milk is so expensive it seems like making our own wouldn't be cost effective. And I really like yogurt.

Pineapple isn't actually that cheap, usually, unless they are running a sale, and almost no pineapple sold here would be local because there are very few pineapple farms anymore...the problem with buying local in Hawaii is that agriculture is so limited here (the price of land makes it generally not worthwhile) that local produce is just expensive or more expensive than imported produce. One example: I buy local tomatoes because they taste better, but a container of five local tomatoes is $5 at Target. I don't even remember how much tomatoes cost on the mainland, but I don't think they're that much.

Poi/Taro is expensive! Farming that stuff is super labor intensive. Also, I don't really like it.
Good stuff!
Odd, we must have seen pineapple sales both times :)

Milk: can you consider powder whole milk? Yes it tastes different, many of us revolt at the thought...But kids only know what they grow up with, and may enjoy it. A lot better shelf life than liquid also ;) and can be used as a ingredient in cooking. I grew up on it till age 10 or so, and my family had some lean years. We didn't suffer from it.

dycker1978

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2016, 04:39:51 PM »
I live in Saskatchewan Canada.  If we could get prices that good and the climate, I would call it a win.

We are at about $1000 a month for a family of four here. Two teenage boys doesn't help though.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2016, 04:41:18 PM »
I have some powdered milk for the odd recipe. I recall it not being crazy cheap, but once mixed with water it might be more cost-effective. I happen to love milk in my coffee, and am not sure I could stomach powdered unless in more dire straits.

One thing I'm really curious about is baby formula. I'm having #2 in December. I breastfed #1 for nine months but when I went back to work I couldn't pump enough so we had to supplement with formula. Formula at costco was $50 for a two pack of Enfamil 27 oz cans; I think that was about our monthly allotment. I have to go back to work earlier with #2 so I'm thinking probably more formula this time.

It doesn't really matter because it's not like we're going to move, but is formula way cheaper on the mainland, just out of curiosity?

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2016, 04:44:05 PM »
Oh, and Big Island produce is sometimes a different story because they have the most agriculture of any other island and you actually can sometimes pay less by buying local. So that might explain the pineapples.

Also, pineapples at Costco are about $2-$3 per pineapple--we used them as centerpieces at our wedding reception. It's just at the grocery store where they tend to be pretty pricey, a fact which has disappointed my mother every time she comes to visit.

Jack

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2016, 05:00:37 PM »
Most of those prices are higher than here in Atlanta, but not by the margin I would have expected. The pork is about the same and the beef is cheaper.

Often, the way to eat cheaper is to eat locally and/or in-season. How much is taro?

How big a margin were you expecting exactly? I too live in Atlanta if you recall....

Bananas: $0.49/lb at Walmart
Apples: depends on the kind ofc but about $2/lb at Hmart
Chicken breasts: $1.89/lb at Sam's club, $2.29/lb at Hmart, with periodic coupons at Hmart for $1.79/lb
Ground beef: depends on the % fat ofc but I think it was $3/lb at Target? Don't quote me on this one
Bread: $2.50-$3 for a 24 oz loaf of multigrain bread
Milk: $3/gal

I don't buy the other stuff

Apples: It's October. If you're paying more than $1/lb (maybe $1.5/lb for honeycrisp), you're getting ripped off.
Ground Beef: $3/lb is a good price for "pink slime" 73% lean ground beef, packaged in opaque plastic tubes. 80% lean ground chuck wrapped in transparent plastic is more like $4-4.5/lb.
Milk has been hovering closer to $2.79/gal for a while now at Kroger. I assume Aldi or Costco would be even cheaper, but haven't checked lately.

Anyway, the margin I was expecting was 100% higher, but the OP's prices sound like they might be only 50% higher on average.

acroy

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2016, 05:08:32 PM »
One thing I'm really curious about is baby formula. I'm having #2 in December. I breastfed #1 for nine months but when I went back to work I couldn't pump enough so we had to supplement with formula. Formula at costco was $50 for a two pack of Enfamil 27 oz cans; I think that was about our monthly allotment. I have to go back to work earlier with #2 so I'm thinking probably more formula this time.

It doesn't really matter because it's not like we're going to move, but is formula way cheaper on the mainland, just out of curiosity?
I believe we spent around $13/can of offbrand (kroger? walmart? sorry i don't remember) formula. IIRC, the name-brand was $18-20/can

and - Congratulations!

johnny847

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2016, 05:14:37 PM »
Most of those prices are higher than here in Atlanta, but not by the margin I would have expected. The pork is about the same and the beef is cheaper.

Often, the way to eat cheaper is to eat locally and/or in-season. How much is taro?

How big a margin were you expecting exactly? I too live in Atlanta if you recall....

Bananas: $0.49/lb at Walmart
Apples: depends on the kind ofc but about $2/lb at Hmart
Chicken breasts: $1.89/lb at Sam's club, $2.29/lb at Hmart, with periodic coupons at Hmart for $1.79/lb
Ground beef: depends on the % fat ofc but I think it was $3/lb at Target? Don't quote me on this one
Bread: $2.50-$3 for a 24 oz loaf of multigrain bread
Milk: $3/gal

I don't buy the other stuff

Apples: It's October. If you're paying more than $1/lb (maybe $1.5/lb for honeycrisp), you're getting ripped off.
Ground Beef: $3/lb is a good price for "pink slime" 73% lean ground beef, packaged in opaque plastic tubes. 80% lean ground chuck wrapped in transparent plastic is more like $4-4.5/lb.
Milk has been hovering closer to $2.79/gal for a while now at Kroger. I assume Aldi or Costco would be even cheaper, but haven't checked lately.

Anyway, the margin I was expecting was 100% higher, but the OP's prices sound like they might be only 50% higher on average.

I only buy Fuji apples. I said  ~$2 because I was trying to remember the prices of other apples, but I don't really pay attention to them.


I didn't really know what to expect...but the chicken breasts really stood out to me. Especially because I eat a lot of it.

chasesfish

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2016, 05:24:53 PM »
Costco - Think about how much this company has increased the standard of living on Hawaii.   I've thought the Hawaii Costco prices were like buying at a chain grocery store on the mainland.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2016, 05:27:35 PM »
Costco - Think about how much this company has increased the standard of living on Hawaii.   I've thought the Hawaii Costco prices were like buying at a chain grocery store on the mainland.

I'm not sure we'd be able to survive here without it. It's like the company store...go to any party and everything is Kirkland. Most of my husband's clothes are from there. Furniture, home supplies...what don't we buy from Costco? Which is kind of funny, because the selection is so limited we all wind up eating, wearing, and sitting on the same stuff.

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2016, 05:34:18 PM »
Your prices are about on par, cheaper in some cases, than what we pay in B.C. Canada.
+1

Note that the arrival of Costco drove prices down. I used to work for Safeway and looked at HI warehouse logistics.  It used to be that CA division subsidized HI shipping. Same with Alaska. WA division helped subsidize it a bit.

Non island milk, perishables are quite costly to ship and not have them be tossed at higher rates due to shelf life. Electricity costs a lot more, which retail stores use a lot of.

onlykelsey

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2016, 05:34:43 PM »
I don't buy meat, so I can't comment on those prices, but these are between 80 and 120% of what I would expect to pay here in New York (at a local grocery store, obviously not in an expensive neighborhood/whole foods/etc).

Saskatchewstachian

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2016, 05:37:40 PM »
I live in Saskatchewan Canada.  If we could get prices that good and the climate, I would call it a win.

We are at about $1000 a month for a family of four here. Two teenage boys doesn't help though.

Thank You! As a fellow canuck from the easiest to draw province, our budget runs $550-600/month on groceries and that is cooking all food at home and bulk cooking on weekend. Apart from maybe the lettuce and bread prices prices, I would love to have most of those!

It really does amaze me on some of the prices in larger centres in the USA when I go to visit though.

I also understand there is a foreign exchange difference, but a few years back when the CAD was worth more than the USD the situation was still the same.

seattlecyclone

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2016, 05:38:51 PM »
Just as you marvel at prices of most things on the mainland and think about how they're practically free, I did the same when I went to a farmer's market on the Big Island and saw the price of papayas. It was something crazily cheap like 5 for $1.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2016, 05:41:40 PM »
Just as you marvel at prices of most things on the mainland and think about how they're practically free, I did the same when I went to a farmer's market on the Big Island and saw the price of papayas. It was something crazily cheap like 5 for $1.

Yes, for papayas we can definitely beat the mainland. In fact, we see paying for papayas as a noob move, because you can get them free from your neighbor's yard.

But man does not live on papayas alone.

kimmarg

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2016, 05:57:52 PM »
I've lived on Oahu for my entire adult life, since I graduated from college in 2003. All of my personal grocery shopping has been done on an island that imports some enormous percentage of its food. I never really suffered sticker shock from living here, because I don't have much basis for comparison...except my husband and I go home to visit family and we sail through the grocery store putting everything in our cart because it all seems FREE SO CHEAP LOOK AT ALL THE ALMOST FREE FOOD HA HA HA HA WE CAN GET ANYTHING WE WANT!

We keep a detailed and rigorous monthly budget, and this month is about to be a record low for food, for which we are gleefully proud. Only $450 for the month so far (we're a family of two adults and one toddler) and we're almost done! Only $43 for restaurants! Our allocated monthly food budget is $650 for groceries/$100 for restaurants, down from $700 for groceries/$200 for restaurants when I first started reading MMM's blog in June.

But...when I read mainland grocery budgets of <$400 for families of four, I become discouraged. I thought I'd post some typical food prices for staples here (these prices are all for the non Organic, non brand name food we typically buy) to see if I have a good excuse.

Bananas: $.39/banana at Target, $1.19/lb at Safeway, $1.50 for a bunch of 5-7 at Costco
Apples: anywhere from $2/lb to 3.49/lb at Safeway, about $10 for a flat of 10 at Costco
Lettuce: $5 for 1-2 heads of romaine at Safeway, $5 for 5 heads of romaine at Costco
Chicken breasts: $5-7/lb at Safeway, $3.50/lb at Costco
Ground beef: $4/lb at Safeway, $3/lb at Costco
Pork shoulder: never bought this at Safeway, $2.50/lb at Costco
Bread: $6/bagged loaf of commercial bread at Safeway, $7/two loaves of the same bread at Costco
Milk: $5.19/gallon at Target, $4.49/gallon at Costco
Cabot Cheddar Cheese: 2 lb block for $10 at Costco (we buy this a lot)
Chobani Yogurt: $6-$8/pint Target, $6 for the big size at Costco (not sure how many ounces are in the Costco jug, but it's bigger than the Target one)

Are you gasping with horror at our grocery prices? Or thinking Oahu isn't as bad for groceries as you've heard? I'm curious.

2lb block of Cabot cheese is $9.49 here ... and I'm only 100 miles from VT. Everything else seems higher.

kimmarg

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2016, 06:00:39 PM »
We totally have a bread maker, buy the 25 lb bag of bread flour, bulk yeast, and never buy bread, but I put that on there as a starch staple.

Milk...sadly, this is actually what made me post this. I've started to suspect our milk prices are really high. Our 2-year-old LOVES him some whole milk and we've started watering it down to make it last.

The yogurt seems really high to me, too, but since milk is so expensive it seems like making our own wouldn't be cost effective. And I really like yogurt.

Pineapple isn't actually that cheap, usually, unless they are running a sale, and almost no pineapple sold here would be local because there are very few pineapple farms anymore...the problem with buying local in Hawaii is that agriculture is so limited here (the price of land makes it generally not worthwhile) that local produce is just expensive or more expensive than imported produce. One example: I buy local tomatoes because they taste better, but a container of five local tomatoes is $5 at Target. I don't even remember how much tomatoes cost on the mainland, but I don't think they're that much.

Poi/Taro is expensive! Farming that stuff is super labor intensive. Also, I don't really like it.
Good stuff!
Odd, we must have seen pineapple sales both times :)

Milk: can you consider powder whole milk? Yes it tastes different, many of us revolt at the thought...But kids only know what they grow up with, and may enjoy it. A lot better shelf life than liquid also ;) and can be used as a ingredient in cooking. I grew up on it till age 10 or so, and my family had some lean years. We didn't suffer from it.

Do the math on this. The powdered stuff actually isn't always cheaper than liquid... at least around here. Price it out per quart liquid.

daverobev

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2016, 06:36:22 PM »
Your prices are about on par, cheaper in some cases, than what we pay in B.C. Canada.

Maybe a silly question but, are you and the other Canadians factoring in the exchange rate..??

Bananas where I shop in Ontario are... I think $0.56/lb, Canadian. Which is $0.42 US.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2016, 07:50:15 PM »
What about UHT milk?

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2016, 02:06:32 AM »
My wife and I live on Kauai and we spend about $650/month on groceries. We buy some fancy food at Costco. I try to find value, not necessarily the cheapest food.

When we lived in Florida, our grocery budget was about the same $650/month. I think Costco on Kauai is about 5-10% higher, but we get a lot of fruit for free from neighbors.

If we lived in Colorado, our grocery budget would probably be about $50 cheaper. However, we would probably spend an extra $50 on alcohol in Colorado. Lots of good beers there, but the liquor stores are expensive.

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2016, 07:41:32 PM »
Your prices are about on par, cheaper in some cases, than what we pay in B.C. Canada.

Maybe a silly question but, are you and the other Canadians factoring in the exchange rate..??

Bananas where I shop in Ontario are... I think $0.56/lb, Canadian. Which is $0.42 US.

But then I would have to acknowledge that groceries went up while my salary in Cdn stayed the same.

Technically, yes, chicken breasts at $7 per lb CDN are actually only $5 per lb or so in US$, but then a $100k salary is actually only $72k salary...  yet three years ago, it was on par with my US counterparts (who I still manage from Canada).

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2016, 08:33:06 PM »
Just as you marvel at prices of most things on the mainland and think about how they're practically free, I did the same when I went to a farmer's market on the Big Island and saw the price of papayas. It was something crazily cheap like 5 for $1.

Yes, for papayas we can definitely beat the mainland. In fact, we see paying for papayas as a noob move, because you can get them free from your neighbor's yard.

But man does not live on papayas alone.

Sure, you shouldn't try to live on papayas alone, but you should eat them frequently. Hawaii and the mainland have vastly different climates; it's crazy to assume that cost-effective foods on the mainland should also be cost-effective in Hawaii. Dairy in particular is something you should eat less of on an island where local production is low and transportation costs are high.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #28 on: October 26, 2016, 08:37:56 PM »
Just as you marvel at prices of most things on the mainland and think about how they're practically free, I did the same when I went to a farmer's market on the Big Island and saw the price of papayas. It was something crazily cheap like 5 for $1.

Yes, for papayas we can definitely beat the mainland. In fact, we see paying for papayas as a noob move, because you can get them free from your neighbor's yard.

But man does not live on papayas alone.

Sure, you shouldn't try to live on papayas alone, but you should eat them frequently. Hawaii and the mainland have vastly different climates; it's crazy to assume that cost-effective foods on the mainland should also be cost-effective in Hawaii. Dairy in particular is something you should eat less of on an island where local production is low and transportation costs are high.

We do eat them frequently, when they are in season. But there just isn't that much affordable local produce on Oahu, because agriculture, like everything else, is very expensive here. There is local produce, it just often is as expensive or more expensive than the imported produce due to the cost of the land and energy. And before I had kids, I didn't purchase dairy very much. But now I have toddlers and milk is something they like. Plus it's necessary in a lot of recipes/baking, which I now do much more of.

I'm not really trying to cut down on our grocery bill--in my opinion we're doing pretty well considering where we live. More just curious about how our prices compare to other areas.

TomTX

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #29 on: October 28, 2016, 03:55:52 PM »
We really, really liked the Big Island when we spent a week there. Also enjoyed Maui.  All we saw of Oahu was the airport to change planes....

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #30 on: October 28, 2016, 04:26:08 PM »
I lived in Hawaii (Oahu specifically) for 3 years. There's a reason I did not FIRE in Hawaii even though I LOVED the weather - it would cost a lot more to be FIRE there! But of course you also can't really travel without getting on an airplane hurts things too. I'm not a fan of the TSA.

Food costs even vary on the mainland. I moved from Atlanta to the Baltimore area temporarily so DH could take a short-term job. Groceries cost more in this area than they do in Atlanta. With the exception of produce and meat, everything costs a little more across the board. I overall pay about $50 more per month on groceries, buying the same things.

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2016, 02:27:46 PM »
Do you live near a Wal-Mart?  We were in Hawaii for several weeks last year and I cooked all our food while we were there.  I was able to stick to my Virginia grocery budget ($200/week for a family of 5, plus we had my mom with me) in Hawaii by shopping at Walmart and the farmer's market.  I really didn't think anything was nearly as much as I was expecting to be, except soda, which was ridiculous. Luckily we don't drink it!

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2016, 02:40:53 PM »
I'm only popping on to point out that my kids thrived on Kirkland brand baby formula--why pay extra for Enfamil? Especially if baby is getting some breast milk? (Mine was older and eventually getting no breastmilk at all but was eating largely table food.)

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2016, 05:38:47 PM »
Sure, you shouldn't try to live on papayas alone, but you should eat them frequently. Hawaii and the mainland have vastly different climates; it's crazy to assume that cost-effective foods on the mainland should also be cost-effective in Hawaii. Dairy in particular is something you should eat less of on an island where local production is low and transportation costs are high.

The trick to not spending a ton on groceries is not trying to find what you want at the cheapest price available, but making the groceries you find at the cheapest price available what you want.

Cassie

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2016, 05:45:23 PM »
I would switch to 2% milk which is cheaper and healthier.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #35 on: October 30, 2016, 05:46:22 PM »
I'm only popping on to point out that my kids thrived on Kirkland brand baby formula--why pay extra for Enfamil? Especially if baby is getting some breast milk? (Mine was older and eventually getting no breastmilk at all but was eating largely table food.)

Yeah, I'm not sure. My husband was doing all the Costco runs at that time and that was what he was bringing home. Might try the Kirkland stuff this time around if it's cheaper.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2016, 05:47:32 PM »
I would switch to 2% milk which is cheaper and healthier.

We've started watering down the whole milk--treating it as "milk concentrate" in a possibly misguided effort to DIY 2% for cheaper.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2016, 05:48:48 PM »
Sure, you shouldn't try to live on papayas alone, but you should eat them frequently. Hawaii and the mainland have vastly different climates; it's crazy to assume that cost-effective foods on the mainland should also be cost-effective in Hawaii. Dairy in particular is something you should eat less of on an island where local production is low and transportation costs are high.

The trick to not spending a ton on groceries is not trying to find what you want at the cheapest price available, but making the groceries you find at the cheapest price available what you want.

Ah yes, a vital mustachian ninja trick for many an acquisition, not just grocery shopping. Sometimes easier said than done.

ender

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2016, 06:17:30 PM »
Ah yes, a vital mustachian ninja trick for many an acquisition, not just grocery shopping. Sometimes easier said than done.

Searching google for "hawaii grocery ads" and picking the first grocery ad I found and a safeway ad for hawaii:

  • Boneless chicken, $2/pound @ foodland (you can get hindquarters for $0.99/pound at safeway)
  • Beef prices comparable to what I pay in midwest (!)
  • Ground beef $2.99/pound at safeway

Produce looks slightly more expensive, but safeway had a lot of "everyday low price!" built into their ad.

Canned/prepared stuff looks a bit more expensive but those also are also the "every day low price" options. Which you should nearly never buy.

I don't know what is a "hawaii cheap food" to find.

rosaz

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #39 on: October 31, 2016, 06:40:43 AM »
Boston has high COL itself, but the produce and meat look pretty reasonable to me, while the bread and dairy seem noticeably (though not ridiculously) more expensive.

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #40 on: October 31, 2016, 08:08:30 AM »
I'm only popping on to point out that my kids thrived on Kirkland brand baby formula--why pay extra for Enfamil? Especially if baby is getting some breast milk? (Mine was older and eventually getting no breastmilk at all but was eating largely table food.)

Yeah, I'm not sure. My husband was doing all the Costco runs at that time and that was what he was bringing home. Might try the Kirkland stuff this time around if it's cheaper.

We used that too - formula is super regulated, so there isn't actually much difference between one brand and another. I didn't have much milk supply (tried EVERYTHING, gave up, supplemented, in short), and my kid thrived on the Kirkland brand... which was 1/3 of the cost of the Nestle stuff. And also, y'know, not Nestle.

I'm pregnant again, and if we need formula, that's what we'll be buying.

Sure, you shouldn't try to live on papayas alone, but you should eat them frequently. Hawaii and the mainland have vastly different climates; it's crazy to assume that cost-effective foods on the mainland should also be cost-effective in Hawaii. Dairy in particular is something you should eat less of on an island where local production is low and transportation costs are high.

The trick to not spending a ton on groceries is not trying to find what you want at the cheapest price available, but making the groceries you find at the cheapest price available what you want.

Ah yes, a vital mustachian ninja trick for many an acquisition, not just grocery shopping. Sometimes easier said than done.

Sometimes easier said than done, but totally doable regardless.

The prices I see the OP listing (in USD) seem standard, somewhat low to me (in CAD, not factoring in exchange rate) for rural Quebec. Milk is lower than what we pay, apples are about on-par with non-apple-season prices, everything else seems standard.

Advice:
- If you're going to grow ANYTHING, grow lettuce, it grows well in shaded garden boxes and windows. Or replace lettuce in salads with home-sprouted sunflower sprouts and radish sprouts and the like. Can be super gourmet, and super cheap (also wtf romaine is NOT delicious enough to spend that.)
- Make your own bread. I have a KitchenAid which does the kneading and works great. It's water/yeast/flour/salt/tiny bit of sugar. Acquire the yeast and flour at Costco. Those bread prices are normal but ludicrous.
- Even at those milk prices, yogurt is worth making and is cheaper than buying it, especially if you eat a lot of it.

In terms of fresh fruit... you mention papayas are local and cheap in season... so get extra, freeze in cubes, insert in smoothies. Yay breakfasts.

Otherwise, standard advice applies... check flyers, buy on sale, make meal plans to suit what's cheap, etc.

Like I said, those prices in CAD are pretty normal-looking to me, and my family (2 adults, 1 kid, soon-to-be another baby, at least 2 dinner parties of 6+ people per week) spends less than 500-600$CAD/month (700$ MAX including diapers, wipes, liquor and wine, and all pharmacy/shampoo/cleaning products/make-up AND any restaurant/take-out spending is what we aim for). On that budget, we get fresh bread (ok, homemade, but excellent!), fresh fruits and vegetables, local lamb and the occasional steaks/shrimp/smoked salmon meals, lots of excellent cheese, good wine, etc... we could cut it down, but not significantly without significant loss of enjoyment, which isn't worth it for us. So... adjust accordingly for your expectations.

englishteacheralex

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2016, 09:05:54 AM »
I'm only popping on to point out that my kids thrived on Kirkland brand baby formula--why pay extra for Enfamil? Especially if baby is getting some breast milk? (Mine was older and eventually getting no breastmilk at all but was eating largely table food.)

Yeah, I'm not sure. My husband was doing all the Costco runs at that time and that was what he was bringing home. Might try the Kirkland stuff this time around if it's cheaper.

We used that too - formula is super regulated, so there isn't actually much difference between one brand and another. I didn't have much milk supply (tried EVERYTHING, gave up, supplemented, in short), and my kid thrived on the Kirkland brand... which was 1/3 of the cost of the Nestle stuff. And also, y'know, not Nestle.

I'm pregnant again, and if we need formula, that's what we'll be buying.

Sure, you shouldn't try to live on papayas alone, but you should eat them frequently. Hawaii and the mainland have vastly different climates; it's crazy to assume that cost-effective foods on the mainland should also be cost-effective in Hawaii. Dairy in particular is something you should eat less of on an island where local production is low and transportation costs are high.

The trick to not spending a ton on groceries is not trying to find what you want at the cheapest price available, but making the groceries you find at the cheapest price available what you want.

Ah yes, a vital mustachian ninja trick for many an acquisition, not just grocery shopping. Sometimes easier said than done.

Sometimes easier said than done, but totally doable regardless.

The prices I see the OP listing (in USD) seem standard, somewhat low to me (in CAD, not factoring in exchange rate) for rural Quebec. Milk is lower than what we pay, apples are about on-par with non-apple-season prices, everything else seems standard.

Advice:
- If you're going to grow ANYTHING, grow lettuce, it grows well in shaded garden boxes and windows. Or replace lettuce in salads with home-sprouted sunflower sprouts and radish sprouts and the like. Can be super gourmet, and super cheap (also wtf romaine is NOT delicious enough to spend that.)
- Make your own bread. I have a KitchenAid which does the kneading and works great. It's water/yeast/flour/salt/tiny bit of sugar. Acquire the yeast and flour at Costco. Those bread prices are normal but ludicrous.
- Even at those milk prices, yogurt is worth making and is cheaper than buying it, especially if you eat a lot of it.

In terms of fresh fruit... you mention papayas are local and cheap in season... so get extra, freeze in cubes, insert in smoothies. Yay breakfasts.

Otherwise, standard advice applies... check flyers, buy on sale, make meal plans to suit what's cheap, etc.

Like I said, those prices in CAD are pretty normal-looking to me, and my family (2 adults, 1 kid, soon-to-be another baby, at least 2 dinner parties of 6+ people per week) spends less than 500-600$CAD/month (700$ MAX including diapers, wipes, liquor and wine, and all pharmacy/shampoo/cleaning products/make-up AND any restaurant/take-out spending is what we aim for). On that budget, we get fresh bread (ok, homemade, but excellent!), fresh fruits and vegetables, local lamb and the occasional steaks/shrimp/smoked salmon meals, lots of excellent cheese, good wine, etc... we could cut it down, but not significantly without significant loss of enjoyment, which isn't worth it for us. So... adjust accordingly for your expectations.

Yes, we do make all our own bread, pizza dough, rolls, biscuits, etc. I have a bread machine, bulk yeast, and five gallon buckets of flour. I haven't bought bread in about six months. And we do all that stuff with the local fruit (buying lots and freezing it). I appreciate all the tips (definitely going to try Kirkland formula) but we're not grocery noobs. I was just wondering how Hawaii grocery prices compared to prices on the mainland, since I've lived here so long. Sometimes I fantasize about living in a lower COL area, and then I want to check myself--maybe the savings wouldn't be that great.

With certain things, like yogurt/growing one's own produce, I appreciate that there are savings to be had, but husband and I both work full time and are about to have two children under 3, and sometimes it's just worth it to pay extra for convenience. We also live in a condo, which makes it difficult (thought I'm sure it wouldn't be impossible) to grow our own produce. I've toyed with the idea of putting some kind of growing system on our lanai, but that's going to have to wait until the kids are a little older and can help. I've tried growing things myself pre-kids and it always resulted in a lot of dead plants and wasted money, but I'm sure if I really put my mind to it we could make it happen.

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #42 on: October 31, 2016, 09:25:20 AM »
I live in the DC metro area and those Costco prices are about the same.  The other prices you quoted did seem pricey though.

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #43 on: October 31, 2016, 11:24:55 AM »
I live in the DC metro area and those Costco prices are about the same.  The other prices you quoted did seem pricey though.

I live in the Richmond metro area just 100 miles south and the COL is dramatically different in RVA (especially for housing). I didn't think the grocery prices you paid in HI were particularly high, but then again whenever I visit friends in Baltimore I am always surprised at how good we have it in my fair city.

Then again, salaries are lower here as well....

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #44 on: October 31, 2016, 11:52:09 AM »
Interesting conversation. I think you're doing an awesome job. Perhaps reframing the discussion will help. What are you NOT paying for because you live in HI? Start with heating and A/C bills. Even higher gasoline prices are offset by 1). Costco and 2). shorter driving distances. Tons of free/inexpensive things to do all over the Island + Kamaaina rates. Just sayin'. Thanks to Costco, those food prices are just a tiny premium for living in paradise.

Also, just curious - does Amazon Prime have a HI surcharge? If not, I'd be scouring Prime for deals on formula, powdered milk, etc.

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #45 on: October 31, 2016, 01:55:01 PM »

But...when I read mainland grocery budgets of <$400 for families of four, I become discouraged. I thought I'd post some typical food prices for staples here (these prices are all for the non Organic, non brand name food we typically buy) to see if I have a good excuse.

Bananas: $.39/banana at Target, $1.19/lb at Safeway, $1.50 for a bunch of 5-7 at Costco
Apples: anywhere from $2/lb to 3.49/lb at Safeway, about $10 for a flat of 10 at Costco
Lettuce: $5 for 1-2 heads of romaine at Safeway, $5 for 5 heads of romaine at Costco
Chicken breasts: $5-7/lb at Safeway, $3.50/lb at Costco
Ground beef: $4/lb at Safeway, $3/lb at Costco
Pork shoulder: never bought this at Safeway, $2.50/lb at Costco
Bread: $6/bagged loaf of commercial bread at Safeway, $7/two loaves of the same bread at Costco
Milk: $5.19/gallon at Target, $4.49/gallon at Costco
Cabot Cheddar Cheese: 2 lb block for $10 at Costco (we buy this a lot)
Chobani Yogurt: $6-$8/pint Target, $6 for the big size at Costco (not sure how many ounces are in the Costco jug, but it's bigger than the Target one)

Are you gasping with horror at our grocery prices? Or thinking Oahu isn't as bad for groceries as you've heard? I'm curious.

I live in Seattle, and except for bread and milk those prices don't really look too bad to me.   The pork and beef prices are pretty much identical to what I pay. 

One thing I've noticed about grocery shopping in Hawaii is often the basics (except for milk) are priced with in reason.  Maybe a hair more expensive, but not bad.  It is the other stuff where they nail you.  If you want crackers or steak sauce, hang on.

A bit off topic, but I never buy chicken breasts.   Chicken thighs are cheaper, and are actually better than breast for most things, and certainly more forgiving to cook with.   Or I buy whole chickens, which is about the cheapest meat you can buy.   


QueenV

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Re: The Groceries in Hawaii Situation
« Reply #46 on: October 31, 2016, 10:21:04 PM »
I'm on the West Coast, in an area with a fairly high COL.  A lot of your prices are similar to what I see here, especially the meat prices.  The bread, yogurt, and lettuce are probably twice what I pay.  Bananas and apple prices seem a little higher than here, but not crazy.  Really interesting to compare them!  I'm surprised meat is so similar but dairy is so expensive.  I'm guessing dairy is harder to transport?  Anyway, I also spend about $600/month on groceries for 2 adults and 1 toddler (includes "non-food" items like shampoo, toilet paper, etc).

Bananas: $.39/banana at Target, $1.19/lb at Safeway, $1.50 for a bunch of 5-7 at Costco
Apples: anywhere from $2/lb to 3.49/lb at Safeway, about $10 for a flat of 10 at Costco
Lettuce: $5 for 1-2 heads of romaine at Safeway, $5 for 5 heads of romaine at Costco
Chicken breasts: $5-7/lb at Safeway, $3.50/lb at Costco
Ground beef: $4/lb at Safeway, $3/lb at Costco
Pork shoulder: never bought this at Safeway, $2.50/lb at Costco
Bread: $6/bagged loaf of commercial bread at Safeway, $7/two loaves of the same bread at Costco
Milk: $5.19/gallon at Target, $4.49/gallon at Costco
Cabot Cheddar Cheese: 2 lb block for $10 at Costco (we buy this a lot)
Chobani Yogurt: $6-$8/pint Target, $6 for the big size at Costco (not sure how many ounces are in the Costco jug, but it's bigger than the Target one)

I'll also endorse the Kirkland infant formula.  Our lactation consultant recommended it and said it's basically the same as the name brand stuff.  It worked well for our son and was significantly cheaper here.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 10:25:16 PM by QueenV »