Friday, January 17, 2014

The Price Is Right
By Michael

Eleanor on a Mag Bay beach.
So I mentioned in my last post that we spent an average of $1,108 on food each month last year. This is a lot, but it includes every dollar spent at a grocery store (even vitamins, even vinegar for cleaning), restaurant, liquor store, coffee shop, ice cream store, etc.

But it’s still a lot, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing this number decline in 2014. You see, we spent about 80 percent of 2013 on British Columbia and Alaskan islands. Food is crazy expensive on British Columbia and Alaskan islands. We stopped putting our money where our mouth is and bought everything inorganic. We ate out less. We nearly stopped drinking alcohol (!).

But now we’re back in Mexico…

Yesterday the girls and I hiked to Chedraui, a large grocery store in La Paz. Here is a picture of some of what we bought:

Some of these things are priced like the States, but much
of it is priced for inexpensive living.
I paid with a credit card. A quick check online reveals that my bank did the peso-dollar conversion at 12.96 pesos per dollar. Armed with my receipt and that info, here’s a look at what this stuff cost us:
Haas Avocados (aguacates)—11 of them for 39.31 pesos, or $3.03
Basil (albahaca)—two large beautiful bunches for 8.80 pesos total, or 68 cents*
Mozzarella Cheese (queso mozzarela)—just over 3 pounds, for 170.8 pesos, or $13.18
Toilet Paper (papel higenico)—a package of four big rolls for 19.85 pesos, or $1.53
Cottage Cheese (queso cottage)—a tub for 29.70 pesos, or $2.29
Corn Tortillas (tortillas maiz)—about 40 still-warm wonders for 9.72 pesos, or 75 cents
Strawberries (fresas)—six standard baskets for 100 pesos, or $7.72
Leaf Lettuce (lechuga)—one bunch for 9 pesos, or 69 cents
Iceberg Lettuce (lechuga)—one head for 4.5 pesos, or 35 cents
Portabella Mushrooms (hongo portabellini)—two packaged for 12.5 pesos, or 96 cents
Pineapple (pina)—for 15.42 pesos, or $1.19
Pasta Shells (pasta)—two 400g bags, about 28 ounces for 15.80 pesos, or $1.22
And see that bag of delicious oranges on the shelf back there? We’ve already eaten several, so it’s just a partial bag. We paid 20 pesos for them all, or $1.54

So the total cost of everything pictured, in U.S. dollars? $35.13
La Paz is at the end of a 700-mile-long peninsula dominated by rock and cactus. Almost all of what’s consumed here is either trucked down or ferried across the 250-mile-wide Sea of Cortez. Curiously, this doesn’t seem to inflate the prices of most foods and goods, but if you’re hankering for Haagen-Dazs, be prepared to spend big, like $7.50 for a pint.


* The basil was cheap, maybe too cheap. On the shelf, it was piled high under a sign that read “epazote.” But epazote isn’t basil, it’s a whole different herb. But my receipt too says I bought epazote, so the cashier thinks that’s what it is. I’ll check this out in another store.

Here we're getting a bunch of Costco booty back to
Del Viento, anchored out in Port Angeles, WA.
(Courtesy Don Penfield)

I remember the drive-thru dairy store from when I was a kid.
Mexico's improved the concept. Are they trying to subliminally
invoke the idea that you're driving through pearly gates?


  1. Hi guys...received your holiday greetings--thanks!! Happy new year and best wishes to you from the Schors of Aspen St NW. Read the blog regularly and love it.
    Question: how does Eleanor still have a TP Soccer shirt that fits her?

  2. In the midst of seriously curtailing our food budget in preparations for shoving off in the Fall, this post has not only made me feel like yes, our budget will be fine but also that we need to get our butts to Mexico to make it happen.

  3. Thanks for confirming our hopes. We are so looking forward to heading south where living is cheaper.


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