23 January 2014

Grocery Shopping--Produce

Note:  If you missed Part 1 of the grocery shopping post, you can see it HERE.

The layout of the grocery store here is similar to what you often see in the States, so you naturally go through the produce section first.  The first time I went to the grocery store over here I started looking at the fruit and veggies and seeing prices like 6.95, 12.95, 17.95 and even more.  Yikes!  Although 1 USD converts to roughly 4 SAR, so you can divide the prices by 4.  But even then the produce seemed expensive.  That is until I remembered that they use kilos, not pounds.  :-)  In general, the produce over here is good quality and cheap--especially considering we are in the middle of winter right now.  I am excited to see what summer will bring.

Apples, bananas, cucumbers, garlic, and fresh herbs are some of the items that are particularly cheap.  'Practically free' as Ben puts it.  Last time I went to the store a large bundle of fresh herbs was about 6 cents, bananas were 30 cents per pound, and apples were 75 cents per pound.  Oranges and cucumbers were about 50 cents per pound.  Some of the more expensive items are celery (about $4 per bunch of celery), onions, avocados (about $ 2.50 each), strawberries, grapes, and blueberries.  

One thing I find interesting is that the price signs for the produce generally include which country it comes from (usually places around the Middle East or Africa, although I've seen a few things from Mexico).  And sometimes there will be the same food available from multiple countries--for example there always seems to be several types of mango available, each from a different country.

The most unusual thing about the grocery store here is that you need to get your produce weighed and stickered at the weigh station.  You bag your own produce, take it to the station, and place it on the counter where someone will weigh it and put the appropriate sticker on the bag.  And these guys are amazingly fast at punching in the different codes!  And remember those mangos from different countries?  No problem for these guys.  I've checked up on them multiple times. . . not out of a sense of trying to catch them in a mistake, but rather out of fascination for how accurate they are. . . . and I have never seen them make a mistake and put the wrong kind of label on.

Oh, and if you forget to label your food--or didn't know to do it--the guys at the register are really nice about it and the bagger will run your produce over to the weigh station for you and then bring it back labeled.  Ask me how I know. . . . :-)

Over here they don't have a lot of sales; each week there may be just a handful of items on sale.  One week there was a sale on garlic (I don't remember the price) but I do remember that there was a sign saying that there was a 2 kilo limit (or about 4 1/2 lbs).  That's a lot of garlic!  Interestingly, that is the only time I have ever seen a sign limiting how much product you can purchase.