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Old 02-04-2009, 04:42 PM   #101
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$2-3 for a pear? Where is this location?
Tokyo. A small canteloupe will cost you $5-6 in season. Out of season is a lot more. And, they like to make things look fancy here, so a boxed melon can cost you up to $200. 

A few other examples:

DW loves cherries, and we aren't always able to be in the states during cherry season, so once in a while I'll pay $20-25 for a pound or so of them for her. A little package with 8-10 cherries will cost you $4-5.

There is a Costco here with meat imported from the US. I buy the "beef in the bag" (about $200 for a 7-8 pound rib roast) and cut about half of it into rib steaks about 1/2" thick, and about half is saved as a rib roast for when we have guests. Can't afford to have the inch-thick ribsteaks you get in the states. If we bought local beef (Kobe or Matsuzaka style) it would cost about $80 per pound. Of course, they feed those things beer, massage them, and play soft classical music for them so they don't get stressed.

Milk is sold only by the liter, not gallons or half gallons...of course a Japanese refer wouldn't hold a gallon of milk anyway.

$3 for a half pound of frozen green beans.

$5 for a pound of what look like miniature dried kidney beans (I think they are called adzuki beans).

$40 for a 22# bag of rice.

....and on and on.

There are cheap things as well, like cucumbers, lettuce, edamame is not too bad, tofu is cheap...stuff like that. Fish is reasonable but not cheap. Chicken breast is cheap but thigh meat is 3x the price of breast meat (Japanese love the thighs, don't like the breast meat much). Mandarins are cheap. Seaweed is cheap.

The only way to eat for $176 dollars a month would be to eat rice and miso soup plus a cucumber, 3 meals a day...you would get very little protein, and not much if any red meat.

R
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Old 02-04-2009, 04:47 PM   #102
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While coupons seem like a good deal, they only apply to things which you shouldn't be buying in the first place. I've yet to see coupons offering a discount on a chicken or a head of garlic.
That's generally the case.

I have an affinity card and credit card with the local grocery, and they do send me coupons for fruit/produce/chicken...
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Old 02-04-2009, 06:04 PM   #103
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According to my nutrition class, lactose intollerance doesn't mean you cant eat any regular dairy products. You just have to consume less amounts of it more frequently throughout the day. And the milk products that can't be broken down in your intestine will be removed by simply increasing your fiber intake.

Unfortunately, I am one of the very rare individuals who lost all capacity to process lactose (it's rare but real). I cannot even consumer a piece of candy with lactose even if I use lactase pills. I've resorted to making all my pastries, cookies and chocolate treats from scratch substituting soy products for milk. In addition to stomach discomfort, I break out in terrible hives. It's not allergies (I've been test); it just an intolerance. I found out recently that the number one cause of hives is food intolerance.
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Old 02-04-2009, 06:07 PM   #104
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Wow, we spend so much more than the norm on this board that it is scary. For the two of us we probably spend about $800 a month on groceries and at least another $400 dining out.

We are not extravagant eaters, but I do tend to buy a lot of organic products and we mainly eat fresh. Never buy steaks, but lots of fish. We spend at least $150 a month on fresh organic blueberries which we have for breakfast every day - they were $5.99 yesterday for a small punnet. We only drink organic milk which is about $4.89 a gallon. Last week when I purchased organic apples it was nearly $7 for 5 apples. If I buy ground beef (maybe once a month) it is always the 7% fat or less if available. When we buy cheeses it is usually imported, because we prefer the taste.

I haven't used coupons for a while as I found they were mainly for processed products we would not eat.

When it comes to paper products I only use Kleenex toilet tissue and facial tissues, I refuse to use the cheaper, rougher products. I wonder if the $176 figure includes these items and household cleaners?

I would imagine that people on food stamps may not have access to transport to farmer's markets etc to access cheaper products and maybe their diet staples are different to what the general population eat.
Thank you Dangermouse. Now I don't feel like a freak spending $950 for a family of 4. Our diet is very similar.
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Old 02-04-2009, 07:47 PM   #105
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Tokyo. A small canteloupe will cost you $5-6 in season. Out of season is a lot more. And, they like to make things look fancy here, so a boxed melon can cost you up to $200. 

R
Rambler,

Thanks for the info on Tokyo food prices. I'd heard they were quite high, especially for meats and even rice. I'd also heard that requirements aimed at keeping "foreign" products out (i.e., support your local farmer) were more to blame than any inherent difference between Japan and the US.

Your post made me feel much better about the prices here in Hawaii. While we've learned to eat reasonably well for an affordable price, there was (and still is) a certain amount of "sticker shock" at the market. I see now that I have nothing to complain about compared to your situation.
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$5 for 20 lbs of rice.
Old 02-04-2009, 07:57 PM   #106
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$5 for 20 lbs of rice.

I am fortunate to have a lot of local (suburban NYC) grocery outlets. I can buy cheap rice at a local Korean supermarket, a local Indian supermarket, and at a chain called Western Beef which specializes in putting supermarkets in low income neighborhoods without raping the locals.

Even though I live in a highh cost of living area, the shear ethnic diversity and competition keeps prices reasonably low. Right now (because the weekly circulars just came in the mail, I can, at a variety of stores, buy the following items right now:

Porterhouse or rib steak for $4.99/lb.
Prime rib steak for $8.99/lb
Live Maine lobster for $8.99/lb
Live mussels for $2.00/lb
Shrimp for $5/lb
Cabbage for 50 cents per pound
Porkchops for $1.59/lb
Whole chicken for 68 cents per pound
90% lean ground beef for $1.99/lb
Boneless chicken breast for $1.99/lb
In-store roasted coffee for $3.99/lb
Italian sausage for $1.70/pound
Garlic for about 10 cents/head
Onions for 50 cents/pound
Most cold cuts for $5-6/pound
Jarlsberg cheese for $4/pound

With regard to spices, I generally get them in six ouce plastic containers for about $3. These pint-sized containers last for about a year. Think about how long a pint of whole nutmeg would last.

As far as wine, one could argue that wine is food, although it is likely that wine could completely consume our throretical $176 budget. But for those who consider wine as food (myself among them), there are very reasonable options available. I will dismiss three buck chuck, as each bottle seems to taste different from the previous one, and their offerings are not to my taste. If we set the bar at less than $10/bottle, I have literally hundreds of options available to me locally. For less but for $8 or less (and don't forget the 15% case discount, which brings the price to less than $7). Since I usually drink red, and prefer the bargains from Spain, Portugal or Chile, I would put my two current bargain favorites are Porca de Murca from Portugal (case of 6 for $6.38/bottle) or Odfell Armador Carmeniere from Chile for about $6.70/bottle by the case. But if you're too cheap for even a six dollar bottle of wine, you would - seriously - be better served by a decent Australian box wine than something like three buck chuck or yellowtail. Boxed Shiraz that I've had is roughly on the same level as Rosemount, which is a solid inoffensive shiraz.

To put the above prices into perspective, I could throw a dinner party for eight people, serving them a nicely dressed salad, decent bread, chicken parmesan, and pasta such as linguine or spaghetti, along with half a bottle of wine per person for $7.50 per head. And this is treating my guests to food I've made myself and ensuring enough food (an entire basket of bread, generous salad with vinegarette, eight ounces of protein, four ounces of dried pasta, decent cheese (rubber mozzarella but parmagiano reggiano), and 2.5 glasses of wine per person) so no one goes home hungry. There is no dessert, but I'm not particularly fond of sweets, and people often bring the host/hostess either wine or dessert. Espresso for the group would probably cost no more than $2.00. Of course, if they wanted Sambuca that would be another story.

This meal at a decent, but reasonable local family-style red sauce place (not Olive Garden, which is not bad but I live in NY so its kind of missing the point) including tax and tip would be about $42 per person, and would likely tas|te the same or worse (the menu is very easy, and even though it relies on high quality ingredients, you're not using a huge amount of them). I'm reminded of the economics of two high dollar restaurant meals that are very, very easy to do at home given good ingredients: lobster and steak. A dry-aged porterhouse at a local steakhouse (one of NY's signature contributions to American cuisine) will likely cost about $30/person, plus ala carte sides. I can purchase dry aged prime porterhouse locally for $20/pound. Even being very generous with the portions, it would cost no more than $15/person. Same with lobster, perhaps one of the easiest things to cook. Honestly, Kraft mac and cheese is more difficult. At a local restaurant, a 1.5 lobster will cost about $30 each. At home it will cost $12.

I would legitimately say that splitting a bottle of wine every day, shopping care,m ' fully but splurging on what some would consider a luxury meal twice a week, the two of us could eat and drink for about $600 per month. If money were truly tight, we could easily eat on half that, and probably even less. For perspective, the aforementioned dinner party meal actually cost about $4.00 per person for food, and the calorie content would likely satisfied our entirely daily needs.
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Old 02-04-2009, 08:49 PM   #107
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Ah, the joy of shopping at Western Beef where you and the meat freeze together, but the shopping experience does make you shop faster.
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:35 PM   #108
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Buns refers to the setup of Western Beef where you actually walk into the meat locker to shop. The butcher counter is located inside the room, where you bring your meat over to the guy and have him cut it however you wish. OTOH, its pretty much the only place around where you're guaranteed to be able to get an entire pig, entire goat, or a real Virgina ham (the sort that take three days to make because you need to rehydrate and desalt it).

From my experience, most supermarkets in poor neighborhoods really f' the peopleover. WB is the only one that not only gives them a fair shot, it undercuts most other grocery outlets. There's a certain ray of hope knowing that people near the bottom of the socioeconimic ladder can buy chick leg quarters for 50 cents a pound.
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:09 PM   #109
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Buns refers to the setup of Western Beef where you actually walk into the meat locker to shop. The butcher counter is located inside the room, where you bring your meat over to the guy and have him cut it however you wish. OTOH, its pretty much the only place around where you're guaranteed to be able to get an entire pig, entire goat, or a real Virgina ham (the sort that take three days to make because you need to rehydrate and desalt it).
I wish we had a place like that here (No CA).

tmm
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:27 PM   #110
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If you ask your local butcher he can usually order it for you. As far as the hams, you can order from either VA or KY for dry cured artisanal hams. They're about $5-60, but far less than the $1,600 you'll pay for a spanish Iberico Bellota ham. I would also look at eatwild.com for grass-fed meat vendors.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:00 AM   #111
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Randyman, thanks for the information about Western Beef. The poor always seem to pay more, but perhaps that trend could be reversing if more businesses can successfully adopt the marketing strategy of Western Beef. In my neck of the woods, we have Grand Mart, which is an ethnic-based supermarket chain, but frequently has the cheapest price on produce in the area: Grand Mart - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:45 AM   #112
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I am fortunate to have a lot of local (suburban NYC) grocery outlets. I can buy cheap rice at a local Korean supermarket, a local Indian supermarket, and at a chain called Western Beef which specializes in putting supermarkets in low income neighborhoods without raping the locals.
I wonder what enables suburban NYC to sell rice at 25 cents/lb ($5 for 20#). Houston also has countless of ethnic supermarkets (Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian), and the competition among them is tough. Yet, rice here still sell for at least 70 cents/lb.

As for the other items in your list, they are comparable in price with Houston. Again, there must be some thing very special about rice in your locale.

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Old 02-05-2009, 08:46 AM   #113
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I think the very high concentration of Chinese, Korean, and Central American immigrants puts downward pressure on certain staple goods.
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:55 AM   #114
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Tokyo. A small canteloupe will cost you $5-6 in season. Out of season is a lot more. And, they like to make things look fancy here, so a boxed melon can cost you up to $200. 
Oh, ok. Tokyo is the exception especially since we're discussing food price in the USA. I venture to say that a few other places in Europe are also very expensive.

Just out of curiosity, do people get paid a lot more in Tokyo? Considering the sky-high cost of housing and food. What is the minimum wage in Tokyo? Is it enough for people earning that minimum wage to shelter and feed themselves?

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Rice costs more than $5.00 for 20lbs
Old 02-05-2009, 09:46 AM   #115
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Rice costs more than $5.00 for 20lbs

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I think the very high concentration of Chinese, Korean, and Central American immigrants puts downward pressure on certain staple goods.
Randyman65,

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Thai prices are being supported by an intervention scheme under which the government is buying paddy from farmers at 12,000 baht ($344) per tonne, which equates to an export price of around $630 per tonne free on board.
UPDATE 1-Thai Jan rice exports fall 41 pct from year before

I did some research, and concluded that there is no legal financially possible way for anyone to sell rice in the USA for 25 cents/lb.

The export price is $630/tonne, or 29 cents/lb. Add transportation, storage, distribution, packaging, and profit for the retailers, and we're talking a minimum of 50 cents/lb. Which is in line with what I'm seeing here in Houston, 75 to 100 cents/lb.

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Old 02-05-2009, 10:15 AM   #116
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You're assuming two things: that the rice comes from Thailand, which in this particular case is not true, and that this particular bag of rice is not marketed as a loss leader.

Bear in mind that Thai Jasmine rice tends to be priced at a premium, while domestically grown rice does not enjoy the price premium of Jasmine or Basmati. The Texan hybrids of these varieties are an entirely different sort, and while they may command a premium, they are completely different from the imported varieties.

Bear in mind that the price of Thai rice is a result of price supports from the PM. Not all exporting countries enjoy similar protection.
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:30 AM   #117
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Not really. I use Thai, as it is one of the main and cheapest producer and exporter of rice. Even with the goverment subsidy, Thai rice is still one of the cheapest. And farm subsidy is prevalent almost worldwide, isn't it?

What domestically grown rice are you talking about? I assume that by domestic, you're referring to the USA. I find it hard to believe that rice produced here is cheaper than rice imported from asia.

It's true that Jasmine rice are pricier. But even non-Jasmine price costs more than $0.25/lb.

But may be your case is extra special. May be if you can post a recent picture of that $5 20lb bag of rice, and the store name and location, I would be convinced.

Not trying to say that your info is wrong, just that the info may be 2 or more years old.

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Old 02-05-2009, 06:00 PM   #118
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