By: Revanche

Eating in, in Hawaii

December 9, 2013

Our favorite guesting ritual is cooking a meal for our hosts.

There’s always a bit of shuffling figuring out what to make and cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen but cooking a nice meal for hardworking (often parent) friends and cleaning up for them’s a nice way to give them a bit of a break and thank them at the same time.

For our new parent friends especially, going out is not so much the fun and easy time that it used to be. Depending on the age of the kids, and the parenting style, they’re generally on the hook for crying, projectile food, running, screaming… all ingredients for a good time, right? Β It’s just easier to eat at home and weird as it is, PiC and I always enjoy a good ramble through the grocery stores wherever we travel.

Grocery shopping in Hawaii was one hell of an eye-opener.

The ingredients for a basic taco night for four adults and 1 child, which probably would have cost about $30 even here in the Bay Area, was a shocking $60. Granted, I wasn’t buying on sale cycles like normal, and didn’t have any coupons either but still, I’m certain we could manage turkey tacos for less than that on the mainland.

That included: 2 lbs of ground turkey, taco seasoning, hard taco shells, tortillas, onions, 5 avocados for guacamole, 2 limes, 1 bag of chips, a few tomatos, and shredded cheese.

I walked the rest of the produce section and aisles to get a feel for the rest of the store and it was equally scary.

Milk is consistently expensive, running between $9-10 per gallon; kale cost 3x more than I would normally pay (between $1-2 per bundle on the mainland; $5 on the island); bananas that are usually between 29-79 cents per pound were $2.49/lb. Β Apples were nearly $4/lb; and cereal ran $7-9/box.

We often joke that we can’t afford to feed another mouth around here, PiC snacks enough for three and meals that would serve 4-6 don’t last past the first sitdown, so paradisiacal as Hawaii is, we couldn’t even afford to feed ourselves there!

We’re so spoiled by how reasonable food prices are, even in the Bay Area, and especially in Southern California.

11 Responses to “Eating in, in Hawaii”

  1. Clare says:

    I went to University of Hawaii and this was my experience too. I was consistently broke. I survived mostly on cafeteria food, star fruit ($5 for a giant bag) and pink guava bread ($1.50 / loaf) from the farmers’ markets.

    • Revanche says:

      I had to wonder for a second if that was more because you were a college student, most of whom I assume are brokeish unless they have family money, but no. It’s Hawaii. πŸ˜‰ Have never had pink guava bread, now I’m curious!

  2. eemusings says:

    Yeah, you are πŸ™‚

    Thanks for this, I love hearing about grocery prices as well (masochism). But I think we actually have it better than Hawaii, amazingly! Gallon = four litres = can be had for about $7, those fruits are about the same price but per kg not pound, so it’s cheaper. Cereal sounds about the same though I can’t quite recall if American boxes are larger. I’m really struggling with breakfasts because I adore cereal but it is so expensive (and so is milk), esp when I go through a box in just 3-4 days (less if T is also getting in on the action).

    We do not buy tacos or burritos or any of those things at the supermarket because the readymade shells/wraps start from about $5 for a pack. If we do I make the soft wraps from scratch for next to nothing (unfortunately there’s not really a shortcut for the crunchy tacos, but those are kind of a pain to eat anyway)

    • Revanche says:

      You should go grocery shopping with us in SoCal! It’s even MORE insanely cheap. My aunt gave us a few pounds of produce when we were visiting a couple years ago because the onions were going for $1 for SEVEN pounds.

      Our boxes run between 13 to 22 ounces. You make tortillas from scratch??

  3. spiffi says:

    What really surprised me when I was on Maui a few months ago, was that the fruit was not only so expensive, but such…sad quality. I had this illusion that there would be mounds of cheap, tropical fruit, but it certainly was not to be found in the grocery stores I visited!

    And the staples – $5-6 for a loaf of bread! I am definitely spoiled here (also in the Bay Area) – where fresh local strawberries are available nearly year round, and corn on the cob starts up in March/April!

    • Revanche says:

      Oh yes that’s a great point! I saw the same with the tropical fruit there. It’s surprising, and so very expensive for things you KNOW are growing over there in that person’s yard!

      Even though our strawberries can get a bit expensive at certain times of the year, we do get them for less than it’d cost there in Hawaii.

  4. Linda says:

    The Bay area is so close to major growing regions in California that I think you all are rather spoiled with the bounty and low cost of many vegetables and fruits. That said, food costs here in Chicago aren’t terrible. Some of the those “major commodities” like milk and cereal are things I rarely or never buy so I can’t provide a rule of thumb comparison.

    I am surprised that there was no price break of fruits that can be grown locally, such as bananas, though. One of my guilty pleasures is a type of banana called an apple banana that I understand is grown in Hawaii. Maybe major supermarkets don’t carry many local products? I wonder if there would have been local markets (such as farmers markets) that had better prices. They also produce beef and coffee in Hawaii, so I would think there would be some released to local markets at lower prices than items that are imported like turkey and taco shells.

    I love visiting markets when I travel, too. I like to ogle the different products as well as satisfy my curiosity about prices. I walked through the local “supermarket” (it was rather small!) in Portree, Isle of Skye and noticed that most of their fruits and veggies were packaged. It reminded me of Trader Joe’s. Prices were certainly higher, although I’m not sure if that was consistent throughout Scotland since that was the only supermarket I visited.

    • Revanche says:

      Honestly I did expect to get better prices here for those things that are so much more available. We still pay 2-4x more than we did in SoCal, I’ve just gotten used to these prices too.

      I’ve never heard of an apple banana, I’ll have to ask my friends about that! I’m just thinking about whether or not we even considered beef (we pay more for beef here around SF even though turkey’s super expensive). I love that someone else does the grocery/market exploration thing too πŸ™‚

  5. We were in Maui about 12 years ago–we actually carried some staples in our suitcase (this was before the limits on baggage weight and the charge for checked luggage). Everything’s expensive there but the beauty–which is free! And all the kids we saw had small wardrobes of teeshirts, shorts, and flipflops.

    • Revanche says:

      Hah that reminded me that I DID bring a box of cereal for breakfasts because I couldn’t bear the thought of paying $5-9. It’s definitely easy to dress for Hawaiian weather at least!

  6. gigiwjd says:

    This sounds like my experience in Tokyo. Even after a year, I still wince every time I leave the grocery store!

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