International groceries, out of this world prices

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the big events for Monday was going to the grocery store, specifically, Chris asked our driver to take us to the international grocery store. Before we even made it inside, I was excited because I could see some familiar brands through the windows!

Upon going inside, I immediately spotted the little red mesh bags of Babybel Cheese! Naturally, I made a beeline for the dairy case ready to grab a few of these little treasures. As I was loading them into my shopping basket, Chris shouted “Brit, make sure you check the prices, these Poptarts are $10.”


And I had picked up over $60 of Babybel Cheese. That would be three, yes, that’s right three little bags of cheese. Feeling majorly disappointed, I put them back.

Let’s do the math…6 pieces of cheese @ 21 grams each for 950 INR, so about $20.21 …..that’s over $71/lb.

Not happening. At least not in my world.

Maybe you can see where this is going already. Since we were short on time, we did end up buying a few items so that we could eat this week, but not the foods that we really wanted. Well, not many of the foods that we really wanted. Ahem, overpricedHoneyBunchesofOatsChris.

After spending nearly $100 on almost nothing, I think that we have learned two important lessons during our first trip to the international grocery.

  1. Buying international groceries is for rich people, not us.
  2. In order to eat within our means we are going to have to start eating a lot of Indian food, or at least dishes made from traditional Indian foods.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these purchases.

Notice that the rice, lentils, and chickpeas are all well within our budget. Also notice that after the massive cereal stockpile that we brought over here runs out, we may not be eating any more cereal.

Thankfully we shipped enough Splenda to last Chris for 5 months! The Tide is the only item that I can  see going back to the international grocery store for and that is only because my super sensitive skin gets hives from almost every other laundry detergent.

This weekend, for some contrast, we will be hitting up the Indian version of Wal-Mart. A superstore that sells clothing, electronics, groceries, housewares all in one convenient location. Yep, pretty much Wal-Mart.

Preparing myself for sensory overload! Trying to keep in mind that my wallet will thank me!

  1. OMG! $10 for a box of cereal! I wonder how much it costs to have family ship it to you instead?

    • Brit said:

      I’m hoping that our three Sam’s Club size boxes of cereal last for a while and that the cereal is cheaper in the Indian superstore.

  2. Whoa, that is crazy. Overall, how does the cost of living in Chennai compare to Indianapolis?

    • Brit said:

      That’s a tough question to answer. It depends on what type of housing you want, what type of food you eat, etc. This apartment costs roughly 3x more than our mortgage payment in Indiana. But, since I didn’t eat cereal today, I bet my food for the day cost under $2.

  3. Ok, so that ginormous apartment isn’t super cheap then 🙂

    You also mentioned last week not being able to have fresh fruits or vegatables at a restaurant. What’s the criteria for “safe” produce?

    • Brit said:

      In order to avoid “India Tummy” you are supposed to avoid any fruits or vegetables that are not peeled or cooked. I am so glad that I brought my vegetable peeler with me because it is enabling me to eat those delicious Fuji apples. What a pain in the neck to peel them though!

      No, the ginormous apartment isn’t super cheap. Chris says that I would not have been so stoked to live in the apartments here that were priced comparably to our house. Fortunately, this is part of his relocation package. Unfortunately, the apartment is 90 minutes in traffic from Chris’ work.

  4. Kier said:

    INSANE. I really hope your oatmeal lasts a long time. When you get low, maybe I can send over a care package!

    • Brit said:

      Thank you Kier! You’re so sweet! I’m hoping that the prices will look different in the superstore than they did at the international grocery. I’ll know more about that tomorrow. 🙂

  5. jen said:

    Try going to Nilgiris on RadhaKrishna Salai – they have a good selection of “international” items for a little less than what you’d pay at Amma Nanna (which is where I presume you went to yesterday?) If you know anyone at the US Consulate, they might be able to get you some treats from back home (at their store on the Consulate grounds) 🙂

    • Brit said:

      Jen, you are my hero!!! I will definitely check out Nilgiris. You guessed it, I was at Amma Naana.

      Chris’ uncle said something about the US Consulate having their own store, but I totally wrote him off as being full of it. I guess he was telling the truth. 🙂 Unfortunately, I do not know anyone at the Consulate.

  6. jen said:

    my hook up at the consulate left Chennai 2 years ago, so I rely on bringing stuff back with me from trips and care packages sent from home (although this can be tricky, since the Indian customs employees have NO trouble opening your boxes and taking out what they want to keep – seriously, my parents sent K some things for his 1st birthday and when we opened the box, only 1/2 of the items listed on the customs form were inside). 😦 too sad.

    • Brit said:

      Wow, that is super frusrating! I would be so bummed to get half a care package. 😦

  7. Heidi Nicole said:

    Grocery shopping is my kind of retail therapy…but I can’t imagine spending $10 on a box of cereal. I suppose I should stop whining about the $3 I have to spend on Cheerios here in the states!
    In SKorea there was a big Wal-mart like store we would go to for essentials. It was definitely an experience, go in with an open mind and lots of time to browse!

  8. Jena said:

    Holy crap. We had a similar experience in the Bahamas..sort of. A case of Budlight (24 cans) was $47.50 .. WTF. In case you don’t know, it’s about $18 here in Florida.

    We went to the liquor store to buy coconut rum & chris wanted to get bear (because the 5 cases they brought wasn’t enough for 4 days??)… so the lady says the rum is $11.50/bottle, and the beer is $47.50.. ijust looked @ chris.. he says, “Oh, we should only get one case then.” I laugh.

    The cashier says , “The beer is 47.50” Chris says, “okay.” She says, “It’s $47.50, you want the beer?” LOL.. It was pretty hilarious. I guess she didn’t want us to freak out when she said our total was $70 for two bottles of rum and a case of beer. They drank that case of beer very sparingly.

    • Brit said:

      Wowzer! I think the $10 cereal is much more reasonable that $47.50 for a case of Bud Light. Those guys should have switched to local rum instead of imported beer! 🙂

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