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Grocery shopping

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59 posts
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Grocery shopping

Grocery shopping in another country is alway a fun and sometimes challenging experience. My favorite is finding something unique to that country based on recommendations.

My family is taking its first trip to Costa Rica (first to any Spanish speaking country for us). We are staying at a few places that have kitchens so would like to take advantage of them to 1) save money and 2) discover some fun at a different grocery store. We will be staying in the Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio areas.

Question 1: General advice

I'm assuming it will be pretty basic/obvious. We don't speak any Spanish at all but expect we can figure it out. Should we shop in Quepos or Manuel Antonio? Any general advice about grocery shopping there?

Question 2: What to get

What is your advice on food to get or not get? Something like "you have to try ____ brand of ____" or "every American seems to love ____" or "the one thing I bring home to the US with me is ____".

We've had friends in the past inform us that even though something looked just like it does in America, it was much better or much worse in that country. Those tips have helped us find some of our favorite foods that we still miss.

Corpus Christi
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1. Re: Grocery shopping

If you drive to MA you can stop just outside Jaco at a rather large supermarket. It's like a Wal-mart.

In MA the Super Joseph is a nice store...small but nicely stocked. I did not notice anything that was better or worse. You can find your favorite foods...and wine.

Costa Rica
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2. Re: Grocery shopping

First of all, before you go shopping, make up a little "cheat sheet" that will show you at a glance the equivalent colones in dollars. That way, if you see something that is 1719 colones, you don't have to whip out your calculator to figure it out. (It is just under 2000 colones which is about $3.41 so maybe $3.35 or so.)

Second, you may be excited to see things like Campbell's soup or Cheerios but anything that is imported will cost a lot more. Grapes, peaches, plums are all much more expensive than local fruit like papaya, banana and mango.

Many cookies and packaged bake goods you see will turn out to not have the quality you are used to. Many places now have Oreos, but ... imported.

You will find lots of pasta readily available and cheap and a great variety of tuna products. In smaller stores, they do not sell meat but every town has a meat market (carneceria) or two which will usually also have some veggies and fruit. Many towns also have a weekly market - some even have organic markets. As for organic products, look for the Bioland brand. They have everything from shampoo to cookies. Stores in smaller towns may not have fresh milk -- they depend on some local farmer for that. There is an ongoing discussion about the best brand of coffee to buy with many people liking Volio or El Rey. Try to stay away from Cafe Britt which is beautifully packaged and good coffee but way more expensive. For decaf coffee, there is Cafe Britt and El Rey. I like the El Rey much better but it is not always available. For regular coffee, I usually buy Tilawa which I think is dark and rich.

As for things like catsup and mayonnaise and canned goods, I always try to buy Costa Rican brands. Lizano, in addition to making a great sauce (a little similar to A1), makes many products such as these and good quality. Dos Pinos and Coronado are the major milk producers but you can find goats milk also in many places. As shocking as it may seem, eggs are not refrigerated. Look for the furthest expiration date and don't worry - they will be fine.

Hope this helps get you started with a little grocery shopping.

Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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3. Re: Grocery shopping

We shopped at the Super Christian in La Fortuna; we were kind of surprised to see so many American brands - everything from Yoplait to Frito Lay to Minute Maid. Our favorite CR things are Lizano sauce, Imperial beer, and fried plantain chips that come packaged like potato chips. We also like these little bottled fruit soda drinks called Tropical - the mango one and mixed fruit flavor were our favorites. Also love all the tropical fruit - pineapple and mango seem particularly good.

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4. Re: Grocery shopping

I have been craving the lemon shortbreadish cookies since returning home.

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5. Re: Grocery shopping


I am travelling in Costa Rica at the moment. I spent some time in Manuel Antonio and was surprised at the price of food in the supermarket there.I thought the price was a little inflated as it is one of the main toursit zones in Costa Rica, however since I have been in Uvita a little further down the coast I have found supermarket prices equally expensive. You may be better off eating in restaurants as often it works out about the same price if not marginally more expensive.My advice is try to stick to local products ie fruit,vedge, rice, beans. I have written an article on hubpages about Costa Rica if your interested.


Enjoy the trip


6. Re: Grocery shopping

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