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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas, the Price of Milk & More

You may wonder what one thing has to do with the other - milk and Christmas and to be honest, I can't be certain, but it seems that some staple items might increase with the advent of the holiday season.

The brand of milk we normally buy disappeared a couple of weeks ago only to be replaced with a more expensive cousin. (I'm only talking a five cent difference, so I can't really complain all that much). Imagine our joy when we saw our old brand of milk back on the shelves and then imagine the... Well, let's call it shock, when we realized that it was the same price as the cousin. We buy 3-4 liters of milk a week and spent some time testing quality and comparing it with price to determine our preferred choice. I'm sure we'll survive the 20 cent a week hike and we'll be interested to see if prices go down after the holidays. (See below for a list of grocery items and their costs.)

Our Milk of Choice...was 74 79

Christmas has come slowly to Cuenca, at least from my perspective. They just finished decorating the streets last week and the stores, hotels and restaurants seem to be completing their final Christmas touches with hardly any time to spare.  (Strange when I'm used to seeing Christmas stuff before Halloween is even over...bless  consumerism!)

This lack of Christmas inundation has made us almost forget that the holidays will soon be upon us...well, that and the 23 degree weather...not exactly reminiscent of Christmas.  We're actually contemplating not bothering with the whole thing...oh we'll go see the Christmas parade and probably enjoy a nice dinner, but with less than two weeks to go, it seems silly to think about decorating. As Ron is fond of saying the holidays are about being grateful for what we have and appreciating all our friends and family.

Anyhow, as promised here are a few items and their costs, if you're curious:

Loaf of bread (sliced): $1.85
Bakery style bread goes by weight at Supermaxi, but averages $2.50 or so depending on the type
OJ (1 litre) : $1.59
High quality chocolate bar: $2.52 (70% cocoa)
Coffee (high octane): $3.95 (1 lb. tax excluded)
1 litre wine (tetra pack): $5.05 (exc. tax)
   Now before you go turning up your nose, this actually 1/2 decent wine, we prefer the Clos brand, it's better than some of the less expensive bottles of wine
Butter (250g): $1.72 (tax exc.)
Peanut Butter (500g): $5.88
Honey (250mL): $1.50 at the mercados (Supermaxi is more expensive)
Cereal: $3.03 (Corn Flakes) $5.25 (Fitness - a version of bran flakes) tax exc.
Pilsner (Brand of Ecuadorian beer) 500mL: $1.00 plus 50 cent deposit at local tiendas, you can find it cheaper if you buy a crate.  The deposit is a one time payment as long as you return the bottles to the vendor in exchange for full bottles.
Bananas (10): $1 from the mercado
Lettuce: 75 cents (mercado)
Zucchini: 50 cents (mercado)
Potatoes (1 beach bucket): $1 (can be more of less depending on type of potato...Ecuador has over 200 varieties of potatoes) at the mercado
Apples (@ 1 lb.): $1 (mercado)
Pineapple: $1 - $1.50 depending on size and ripeness (mercado)
Tomatoes (@ 1 lb): $1 (mercado)

We also bought 1.5lbs of albacore tune for $3.50
225g of shrimp for $3.63...this was peeled and cleaned

Things to note...unlike North America, it doesn't always pay to buy the larger product.  Sometimes smaller packages are actually a better savings.  Supermaxi is very helpful as they break almost everything down by weight or unit, making it easy to see which is more cost effective.  It's hard for me to buy two small packages of bouillon cubes instead of one big one...but the two cost less than the one, so what's a girl to do?

That's it for now.  Wishing all of you the very best of the holidays, however you celebrate (or, as in our case...don't).  May the new year bring you joy and happiness.  (I won't say success, too, because we just can't have everything, can we?)

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