Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Grocery Shopping In New Zealand

One of the interesting adjustments to make when moving to a different part of the world has to do with food.  Things definitely are not the same here as what we were accustomed to.  That's not a bad thing, it just takes some getting used to.

For example, in the USA, eggs must be refrigerated.   Here, the
stores simply stack cases of eggs on the regular grocery shelves.

As it turns out, the USA is really the only place where refrigerating eggs is common.  They have way more of a problem with salmonella than other countries do.  (See article HERE to find out why).

Next, some things that I used to buy all the time simply are not available here.  Graham crackers seem to be on the list.  No one here has ever heard of them.  Also there doesn't seem to be anything quite like Elder Bennett's favorite granola, which he will surely miss.

Then there are other things that they have, they just don't put them
where I expect to find them.  I spent almost twenty minutes looking for applesauce.  I figured it would be with the canned fruits.  Nope.  It was tucked away on the bottom shelf in the area where they keep sauces.   Who knew?  Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with picking up applesauce over by the sushi seaweed and soy sauce.  It just wasn't what I was expecting.

There are a lot of things that are pretty much the same as what I would buy at home, only they call it something else.  Hamburger is "Mince".   Napkins are "Serviettes".   Other things LOOK very much like something I am familiar with, but then I find out later it is something entirely different.  For example I bought something called "Kumara" which I thought was the same as a sweet potato.  It actually did have a similar taste and texture, but the color was completely unexpected - I thought it would be orange inside.  Instead, the flesh was white.

Looks like a sweet potato to me!
See the white stuff on right side of plate next to the strawberries? 
Tasty, but just didn't look like what I was used to.

This is what I learned about "kumara" online from Garden NZ:

Kumara: Sweet Potatoes - Ipomoea batatas

Kumara In most countries they are called sweet potatoes, but in New Zealand they are known by their Maori name kumara. Kumara are one of the most popular vegetables in New Zealand and one of the healthiest you can eat.
They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium. Kumara have more fibre than oatmeal and provide many essential nutrients, including vitamin B6, calcium and iron.


Available in red, gold or orange, each variety has a deliciously different colour and taste. Red kumara has a creamy white flesh, firm texture and tastes delightfully mellow. Gold has a soft texture and is slightly sweeter. The orange variety is firm and tastes the sweetest.

Last but not least, the biggest difference in grocery shopping here is the cost of groceries.  Here are just a few examples:

3 L of milk (a little over 3 quarts) $ 5.15

1.24 KG Mince/hamburger (2 3/4LBS) $11.22

Very small roasted chicken $ 9.99

Can of Tuna $ 3.98

Box of cold cereal $ 5.99

Can of whole kernel corn $ 1.59

Small jar of salsa $ 5.79

Salad Dressing (similar to Miracle Whip) $ 2.69

Suffice it to say we had a serious case of sticker shock the first time we went to the store.
  But we are taking it all in stride.  We are comparing notes with other senior missionaries here to know where to find the best bargains.  We will read labels carefully and shop frugally.  In the end, we can at least take solace in knowing that we get the benefit of a strong foreign exchange rate.  The rate fluctuates up and down, but from what I've been told  it has been staying pretty much between .78 to around .82 US$ for each New Zealand dollar, which helps take the sting out of higher price tags.

The real take away for me is to remember I am not in Boise and that rather than compare everything here to what I am used to I can be open to discovery and experimenting.  Some things I get I will really like (Milo is yummy!).   Some stuff here I will pass on completely.   (Malt Biscuits are NOT like graham crackers).  Either way, I want to embrace the experience of seeing, smelling, tasting new things.  I will learn to cook differently.   I will learn to try new things.  Who knows?  Maybe when I get home I will actually miss having kumara with my dinner.

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