After I posted my blog about grocery shopping in Jocotepec, faithful reader Joe J. commented that he would like to know what things cost down here, foodwise. This morning I did a mercado/abarrote/Aurrera Bodega run and jotted down a few prices.
The fruit and vegetable prices are all from the mercado and another shop just down the street from the mercado that sells only fruits, vegetables, chilies and herbs.
With one exception, the prices are all for a kilo of product … which is about 2.2 pounds. And I will use today’s peso to dollar conversion rate which, at 12.07 pesos to the dollar, isn’t particularly good. But it’s better than 10:1, which is what it was when I moved here in April of 2008. To do a quick calculation from kilos to pounds, just divide the per kilo cost by two. That will get you in the neighborhood of my costs so you can compare it to your own costs in the US.
Tomatoes … Roma size and style = $6MX per kilo = 50 cents US per kilo;
Tangerines = $3.50 per kilo = 28 cents US per kilo;
Oranges = $3.50 per kilo = 28 cents US;
White potatoes … reminiscent of Yukon gold style = $11 per kilo = ninety one cents;
Bananas = $7 per kilo = 58 cents US;
Large white onions = $10 per kilo = 83 cents US;
Carrots = $8MX per kilo = 66 cents US;
Cantaloupe = $8MX per kilo = 66 cents US; and
One head of iceberg type lettuce = $4MX = 33 cents US a head.
Oh, and dried beans cost between $10MX a kilo and $12.50MX a kilo, so we’re talking about 42 cents a pound.
At Aurrera Bodega, our Wal*Mart offshoot “supermarket” in Joco, I checked on a few things as well. Packaged goods come in varying sizes, so you’ll have to just check the standard sized boxes and bags to get an idea of how things compare.
Special K cereal, 380 grams … not a huge box, but a large one = $28MX = $2.32US;
Corn flakes, Mexican brand, 660 grams … a HUGE box = $20.60MX = $1.71US;
Sugar, standard type, i.e. not refined, 2 kilos = $30MX = $2.48US;
Sugar, refined, 2 kilos = $40MX = $3.31US;
White rice, 1 kilo bag = $13MX average, depending on quality = $1.08US;
Pasta, dry, 220 gram bag = $3.60MX = 30 cents US;
Dannon yogurt, 1 kilogram large container = $21.70MX = $1.80US;
Orange juice, 2 litres = $25MX = $2.07US;
Milk, 1 litre plastic jug = $11MX = ninety one cents US;
Philly cream cheese, 6 3/4 ounce size = $15.88MX = $1.32US;
Sour cream, 450 gram container = $14.88 = $1.23US;
Refried black beans, large 580 gram can = $13MX = $1.08US.
I only checked a couple of kinds of meat at the carnicerias. Pork was averaging about $62MX a kilo … remember, 2.2 pounds … $5.14US, or about $2.34US a pound. Ground beef was about $72MX a kilo, or about $2.71US a pound.
Most Mexicans in Joco don’t eat a lot of beef or pork and you can probably see why! Chicken, which I forgot to price, is MUCH less expensive and is the meat of choice for most people here. Oh, one thing, though, when you compare the cost of ground beef at your local grocery with the price here, remember that the ground beef here has basically NO fat in it, so compare the highest priced hamburger at your store with the carnicerias’ cost.
Hope this has given you some idea of what it costs to feed yourself here. And it should be obvious that if you “eat like a Mexican,” that is, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and rice and beans, you can get a lot for not much. You’ll also notice that I didn’t give you the cost of tortillas, a Mexican meal staple. Suffice to say that even if you are buying your tortillas, which are almost always corn tortillas here, not flour, you’re spending maybe a penny or two US for each one!