Food is outlandishly expensive here. I was shocked when I went to the grocery store for the first time in Auckland. Examples (all in US dollars):

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: $8.16/ lb
  • A single red pepper: $2.00
  • A single head of broccoli: $1.69
  • Tomatoes: $5.10/ lb
  • A single head of garlic: $1.75
  • A single avocado: $1.75

There’s a reason why backpackers are known for eating pasta and canned corn! Everything else is just too expensive. With some creativity  (and scouring the racks for good prices) I think I’ve been doing all right. I’m still spending close to $50/ week on food (and that’s cooking every single meal for myself) which is more than I spent in Boston and I ate far better there. Things that are reasonably priced (these are also cheap in the US)

  • Bananas: $0.75/ lb
  • Apples: $1.10 to $1.25/ lb
  • Potatoes: $0.40/ lb (on sale)
  • Carrots: $1.10/ lb (on sale)
  • Eggs: $2.00/ half dozen
  • Canned Tomatoes: $0.70/ can
  • Ground Beef or Pork: about $3.50/ lb

Typical meals for me include eggs for breakfast, maybe with a vegetable or some potato, or oatmeal with raisins and a banana. For lunch/ dinner I eat left overs. Last night I made chili and that should feed me for 4-5 meals. Last week I made some sliders for dinner with green beans and potatoes (and then re-purposed them and cooked them in with eggs for breakfast and made a sort of egg salad with plain yogurt, hard boiled eggs, raisins and the sliders all crushed up. That sounds really gross actually but it was pretty good). I also scoured the ‘Free’ bin in my old hostel. I found some good stuff there, including a potato, half a loaf of bread, milk, nutella, jam, lots and lots of spices and unrelated to food, laundry detergent and a hat!

Unfortunately, eating out is also crazy expensive. If you go to a cafe pretty much all food is (sometimes significantly) over $10. For example the cafe I went to yesterday has eggs, bacon and toast for $12.50 NZD, which is $10 USD.  Bakeries are also incredibly expensive. Like $2.60 for a cookie, $4.25 for a piece of cake. The cheapest coffee on menus is usually $2.60 (though if you get free internet this is sometimes worth it). Legitimate restaurants charge $18-25 per plate, according to my guide book at least, I wouldn’t know, I haven’t actually been inside one. Many have lunch specials or happy hour specials but they are still far more expensive than cooking for yourself.

Alcohol, if you buy things made in New Zealand and not imported is on par with the US. I indulged yesterday and bought a ginger beer at the food store to have with dinner (it was $5.50 for 1.8L but it was delicious). Otherwise I’ve bought one drink at a bar (also on par cost wise with the US, at least for what you’d pay in a large city) and haven’t drank any other alcohol.

It is quite different from the US but I also have a different attitude now that I don’t have an income. The less money I spend the longer I can travel. Sometimes it’s hard to find the balance between being thrifty and being unreasonable, though.


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