Every time I walk into the grocery store here, I just feel so lucky.
We have 2 big chains here, like Wal-Mart and Brazil's Pão de Açúcar (which I would compare to Whole Foods in its fancy imported-food-ness). But my favorite place to buy groceries is the little local chain. It looks like they just have a few stores scattered around the state, the majority of which are in our region.
The reason the local grocery store is great is because, unlike Wal-Mart, it's never crazy crowded. (Oh, as a side note, I learned that the reason that our mall and the Wal-Mart here get crazy, unusually crowded on the weekends is because they're the only "superstores" within a 3-hour radius (if you can consider a mall to be a "superstore"). So like, people from the blue (i.e. nonexistent) places on Google Maps make day trips out of coming here, just to shop at Wal-Mart. Sigh. At least I live in the "hub", right?)
Anyway, the other reason the local superstore is great is because it's SO CHEAP. I mean, some of the fruit and vegetable prices are so low that they're practically free. We can buy 6 bananas for 1 real (in dollars, that's about 50 cents) (which is logical, because bananas grow wild here and don't even need to be like, harvested). We can get a kilo of peaches for less than 3 reais. Onions are even cheaper than the peaches. (And, side note, a pack of Top Ramen is about 1 real, too. And a half-gallon of ice cream is usually over 12 reais.)
You may remember me telling you that Alexandre and I are trying to eat healthier this year. I can't believe we've kept it up this long (and by "this long", I mean... a little over 2 weeks. Haha). But we've been making smoothies for breakfast and having big salads (usually with chicken and/or eggs) for lunch and dinner. That means we're eating out less and eating less red meat. So the bulk of our grocery store purchases are fruits, vegetables, yogurts, and juice. Oh, and this chain of stores buys these frozen fruits from a local fruit company. So we pick up some of those too, because they don't go bad as quickly as fresh fruit does, and they're easy to add to the smoothies.
When I went to the store on Friday, I got our week's worth of groceries for about 60 reais (which, for a Brazilian, has the value of about 60 dollars, but it's like 30 dollars for me if I imagine that I'm paying with money from my American job). 60 reais is less than the price of sushi dinner for 2 at the nice sushi place in town. The point is, it's ridiculously cheap!
There are 2 grocery stores in the area that are even cheaper, if you can believe it, but one reason that they're cheap is because they don't have many employees working and they're downtown. So it's impossible to park, the lines are long, and the stores are ransacked messes (Americans, think Big!Lots). It's a great option for some people around here, but I have the luxury of having a bit more money and being able to shop in the middle-priced place.
I feel like this is the opposite of the US, where it's much more expensive to eat healthy, and eating cheap and eating healthy are mutually exclusive. Hence, the feeling of luck.
Yeah, my simple plastic trash can was 60 reais, too, which I thought was overpriced. And as we all know, electronics prices are insane here. But in terms of priorities, I feel lucky that the more important things (healthy foods) are cheap and affordable.
This price schema also changes my behavior. I'm more inspired to cook (and I've learned so many recipes!) when it's so drastically cheaper to eat at home. I haven't learned how to cook with as many Brazilian vegetables as I'd like to have (chuchu recipes, anyone?), but I'm improving.
I have my "food" label here on the blog, but I'm thinking about making a separate section (maybe even a separate blog!) with just recipes, and readers who cook here in Brazil can share their ideas and recipes, too. (One problem I have is trying to find appropriate recipes online, because when they're in English, they're meant for American kitchens, and I often can't buy half of the ingredients here. Plus, nothing's in the metric system, and all of my cooking utensils are.) What do you guys think? Is it worth the work? Would you use the recipes? Would you contribute?
I'm off to make our lunch now. I'm thinking about inventing some kind of chicken/veggie casserole thing. We'll see where the food takes me!
Happy Sunday. :)