I was hoping when I came out to Hawaii I would be able to cure my lifelong addiction to food. No such luck. I still like to eat, several times each day, and I doubt I will be able to ever stop. So, finding sustenance here in the middle of the Pacific has been a challenge.
I knew before coming out here food would be expensive. Every blog/story/post I read warned me about how expensive food is in the islands, and they were all right. It is very expensive. But said expense has not deterred me from continuing to eat, I just need to be more careful with the food budget.
I’m going to break down this series into several posts over the week as there is much to talk about when it comes to food gathering in Maui. This post will constipate on grocery shopping. So let’s get to it.
Finding food on the island is not a problem. In Kihei alone there are 3 main grocerterias: Safeway, Foodland, and Times. All three carry pretty much the same stuff although Safeway seems to have the more better selection. Safeway and Foodland both use the store cards which I have avoided in the past but now I’ve found they make a difference when you don’t have too many other choices.
Each store has a deli, bakery, seafood shop, and a pretty decent selection of food items. Safeway also has a bank inside and a Starbucks along with wifi and a few tables and chairs out front. When I go there I usually have some time to wait until the next bus comes along so I can grab some lunch or a snack whilst waiting for my ride home.
If these three stores are unsuitable a quick ride into Kaluhui takes one to all the big box stores. Costco, wallymart of course, Target, and Kmart all carry groceries. And in a pinch there are different small convenience stores around the island as well.
I don’t have a Costco membership yet and I can’t bring myself to go to wallymart. Perhaps budgetary needs will overcome pride someday but not now. Kmart has proven to be decent and has a few bargains now and then.
Upon my first few trips to said markets I was taken aback a bit by some of the prices, even though I had been forewarned. Dairy and bread is very expensive. $5 for a half gallon of milk, same for a loaf of bread. Meat, especially beef is very high, and some of the seafood is way out of budget. Fresh produce is in abundance here but you need to shop for the bargains. You can find most of your favorite brands on the shelves but if you can find a store brand you’ll save a few pennies.
Keep in mind most of what is in these stores has to be shipped from the mainland by container. A voyage of 2500 miles or more. It really adds to the costs.
Other things like cleaning supplies, seasonings, soaps, shampoos and similar items can be found on sale, but one has to shop around. I’m finding this is the trick. Check all the ads, be prepared to hit different stores on different days, and grab the bargains as they show up. If you go with an open mind about what you want to buy, rather than be set on certain things, chances are you’ll find more better bargains as you shop around. If you have the means, you can stock up on stuff as needed. Costco seems to fill the bill pretty well judging by the massive crowds I see there all the time. In my case, I only buy what I can carry, usually enough for two days at a time, so I’m a bit limited in what I can get.
Just a quick side note: Maui took the initiative and banned those godawful plastic grocery bags a while back. You need to bring your own, buy one of those cloth bags, or in some cases, said stores will provide recyclable paper bags which will not pollute the waters nor land. This had made a big difference in how clean everything is around here. Something which the Keys would do well to follow. No Bags Please!
I set out to limit my food budget to $10 per day. So far, not too successful. Sept. was way over budget as I was learning my way around and just grabbing stuff when I could. October has been more better as I am now finding the bargains on things. For example: Safeway has shrimp on sale every Friday for $5 a pound. Said shrimp are pretty decent in size and tasty, but you need to get there quick to get any.
Kmart has a dollar shelf with some cleaning stuff on it. When I make a trip over I pick up a bottle of what ever I happen to need.
Overall, I’m doing more better. I cut way back on the amount of food I’ve been eating, as I over did it when I was in Pa., and it is paying off in some lost weight and not spending so much. Since I go to the store 3 times a week or so, I can be a bit more choosy and try some different varieties of food as the month goes on.
Still, it’s a challenge. I have been hard pressed to walk out of the store without breaking over the $20 barrier, but it’s improving. Just be aware should you come out here, you will be in for some sticker shock as you walk down the aisles of the stores. By being frugal, not eating so much, and being open minded enough to grab the bargains when they show up, you should be able to manage a decent enough food budget.
But, this post is only about shopping at the stores and eating at home.
Next up: Going out to eat.
Hold onto your wallets.