Monday, September 30, 2013

Grocery Shopping in Costa Rica {Mas x Menos}

I remember back in 2001 when my husband and I were honeymooning in Maui I had to visit a local grocery store, I am fascinated by grocery stores in different places. For one every City or town is different, their needs are different therefore grocery stores have different products. While living in San Diego I would always shop for our weekly groceries at the same stores, but still once in a while I would venture around town to try a new grocery store and see what they had to offer. That is how I found Lisko Artisan Deli and other convenience stores. 

Here in Costa Rica, grocery stores look similar to the ones in Mexico and similar to the ones in the U.S. The difference as with all of them is the products they offer. You can find just about anything you need, but due to shipping, Import and duty fees it may be double or even triple the price of what you are used to. There are also special Customs permits to consider. There are products that Food and Drug Administration of each country regulate and it could be that they are not allowed to be imported. For example personal hygiene products or certain foods. If they are permitted the duty rate {permit fee} imposed on it will be high. Furthermore, purchasing local or national products means you will be saving money and also going green by supporting local economy. 

There will be times when you will crave flavors from back home and that is when imported goods are key :D such as peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti sauce, snacks and even drinks. I have yet to bring myself to buy those grapes! Now the jam and pickles are staples in our home so we buy those. 

In Costa  Rica's grocery stores you will easily find a variety of produce that is considered exotic in California such as dragon fruit, mangosteen, mangos and more. Here it is local fruit that is easily found and priced right or even better than right! Taking in consideration the exchange rate of ¢500.00 Colones per $1 U.S. Dollar, a fresh pineapple in Costa Rica is less than $2.00 each. 

Papaya is also popular, but there are some fruits or vegetables that will not be found in the tropics that need to be imported. Such is the case of apples, grapes, pomegranates, pears and zucchini they are imported most likely from the U.S. or from South America specifically Chile or Argentina. 

Our local grocery store is conveniently located just 2 blocks away, it is called Mas x Menos which translates to More for Less. It is a division of Walmart -in case you didn't know Walmart is all over Latin America. As I've mentioned before I also shop at the local farmer's market and other grocery stores, but today I am going to share images of what Mas x Menos looks like and what I've seen there as far as products. 

The local fruit juice brand is Del Valle, but there are other brands for drinks such as Tropical. Doesn't the Del Valle brand look similar to Minute Maid logo? That's because they are both owned by Coca-Cola. The large sausage is called Salchich├│n and chorizo, but don't expect the Mexican flavor and texture this one is similar to a hot dog weenie it just is triple the width and length it is typical eaten inside a bread with butter and that is called a "choripan". 

In Costa Rica they love their beers, they have several brands but the ones we've tried are Imperial,  Pilsen and Bavaria. Imperial is the one pictured, they are all good but in all honesty my favorite beer is not local it is from Nicaragua. Just so you know before moving to Costa Rica I didn't like beer, but it gets to hot here that I've acquired a little bit of the taste for it. I can now finish half of a can of beer. :)

The lower corner picture is of freshly made tortillas, just like in Mexico they eat tortillas here. They don't taste exactly the same because in Mexico they use more salt, but they work. They also sell freshly made pupusas, these are originally from el salvador and it is similar to a tortilla but it is filled with cheese or cheese and pork rinds or other ingredients.

Have you ever seen fresh Cacao? I am still trying to figure out what to do with it, chocolate I know but it's not that easy when you don't have an oven at home. They have 2 varieties of avocado here the one to the right is the one we like the most, the other one is ok but less taste. Yuca root, it is eaten in Cuban food so I definitely know how to cook that. Pineapple is sold per unit or cut in half, mangos are sold by kilo and papaya can also be purchased in half or whole but it is sold by weight. You know what else is sold by the weight? 

Yes they are, but still you will see the cartons contain 15 {like the one pictured}, 30 and 40 packs. The price will vary a few colones depending on the weight of the complete amount. The one pictured was ¢1,799 colones which is roughly $3.59 U.S. Dollars for 15 eggs. 

Chiles are found in Costa Rica, mostly the dried ones that can be used to make salsas and jalape├▒os, the little green ones that look like tomato are panamanian chiles. They are not too spicy. 

I love that tuna is easy to open, you don't need a can opener for this one. The "can" is a plastic container that when done you can wash and it may be used to save foods in it.

What do you think of this grocery store? 


  1. Shopping overseas is always fun. I'll never forget shopping in a German supermarket - I wanted one of everything because it all looked so fantastic and different!