18 February 2014

Grocery Shopping--Boxes, Cans and Drinks

Ok, I think it is about time I finish up my little series on grocery shopping.  Here are Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.

On my first trip to the grocery store after moving here, I was SO very grateful to find out that all the labels are in English (and Arabic too of course).  My only other experience living in a foreign country was Finland, where labels and signs at the grocery store generally did not include English.  It is SO much easier to shop when you can read the signs and labels!!  It is also nice that there is a large expat population in our area, so the stores tend to cater to that quite a bit I think since you can find lots of imported goods.  It's always nice to find things that make you feel like you have a little bit of 'home'.

Products that are imported usually just have a sticker that translates the necessary info into Arabic.  Other labels are like the Campbell's cans that include both languages interspersed.  Or you have the cans that have one side in English, one side in Arabic.

All of the cans and boxes have 2 dates, one for the production date, and one for the expiration date.  As I am using things, it is interesting to check out the dates.  Of course since the dates are 'backwards' to what I'm used to, it some times takes me a second to process.  (For example, it may say E: 03-12-2015--meaning it expires December 3rd 2015, not March 12th 2015.)  In general I have been surprised to see how quickly things go from production to being on the shelf in a store.

Something else I've found interesting is that milk seems to be the same price, no matter where you go--and it hasn't changed or gone on sale since we've been here.  It is always 7 SAR (little less than $2) for 2 liters or 10 SAR for 3 liters.  Even the little grocery store inside our compound has the same price for milk as the larger grocery stores.  The milk is fresh (no preservatives) and we think it tastes just a little different than milk in the States--although in a good way.

Random info:  eggs don't come in dozens, they come in 6, 15 or 30.  And each egg is stamped with its production date and expiry date (3 months after the production date).

We have really enjoyed the selection of fruit juices and flavored milks over here.  I didn't buy a lot of juice in the States (even for the kids) but now we generally have some sort of juice in our fridge.  My personal favorite is to mix some of the strawberry juice (almost closer to pureed strawberries than actual 'juice') with the mint lemon juice.  Yum!

My kids love cereal, and we buy a lot of it.  The non-imported cereals taste a little different (even if they are the same brand/type/name/packaging as what you would find in the US).  They seem to have a coating (of sugar?) on the outside of the cereal pieces but at the same time are a little less sweet tasting, crunchier and more cardboard like.  To be honest it is a little weird.  I've stopped buying most non-imported cereals since my kids won't eat them.  Since we stick to mostly imported cereals (the ones with the stickers!), it is always anybody's guess what we will find since it is very random.  Two cereals that do always seem to be available are the muilti-grain Cheerios and Frosted Flakes (called Frosties over here).  Even though those ones are not imported cereals, they (fortunately) taste like what you would expect.

I always think it is interesting to look at things that are packaged 'locally' (somewhere in the Middle East, but generally not Saudi) and see how the culture influences the packaging.  For example, you'll notice the mother has her hair covered, and the boy on the milk box is wearing more 'traditional' clothing.

Anyway, that's probably way more that you ever wanted to know about grocery shopping in Jubail.  :-)  If you do have questions though, leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll be happy to respond.