Shopping For Foreign Food

As I have written before, there are more Foreign Food Products available in Bacolod City all the time.

Food Adventurer

In America, there are several companies that do your grocery shopping for you. You make a list and one of their staff will go buy it for you and deliver it to your door. For me, I would not avail this service, as I am a Food Adventurer and I enjoy shopping for myself. Even my wife cannot shop for me and she does not try.

I am not a shopper who will drive across town to save P20 just to buy an item at a different store. However, I have my shopping down to an excellent technique and I shop for different Food Items at different supermarkets and Delis. I do not spend an entire day going to different supermarkets for shopping but since I enjoy going, anyway, I go to one or two stores in the same day. Next time, on to different stores.

Today, I knew where I wanted to go…Cafe Bob’s Deli and Robinsons Supermarket on Alijis Road. I looked around to see if there were any new arrivals but I knew what I was planning to buy before we got there.

I enjoy going to Bob’s Deli and enjoying one Negros Pale Ale. Those with me usually order Coffee but today, they decided on Dad’s Root Beer. My intention was to buy Cold Cuts at Bob’s Deli. I bought Olive Lyoner, AKA Pickle Loaf in Alabama, and Smoked Ham. P139 spent for both, total price. I enjoy Santis Spanish Style Chorizo and I picked up a package for P263. This is not a local product and the Cold Cuts are also imported.

At the newest Robinsons in the City of Smiles, I wanted to look around to see if any new arrivals, as I had not shopped there this month. The Lamb Weston Crinkle Fries were on my list and I bought them. Hunts Pork & Beans, which I prepare with Virginia Honey Cured Bacon, is a Product of the Philippines. It is P119 per package.

The Promo of the Day at Robinsons was Buy One Take One with Fusilli, AKA Corkscrew Pasta, for P58. Each package is 500 grams, so it was 1 kg of Fusilli for the price of half kilo. I have found Fusilli to be very versatile, as you can prepare a number of dishes with it. Beef A Roni, Macaroni Fruit Salad, Macaroni Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad Fusilli and Crab Salad Fusilli, naming my favorites.

This branch of Robinsons is the only one that stocks Tong Garden BBQ Sunflower Seeds and they are P23 per package.

I buy Sandwich Bread at Robinsons Bakery, P39 per loaf, and I like it better than all the other Sandwich Breads sold in Bacolod.

Where to Buy Fruit

All the supermarkets charge about 3 X the public market price for Fruit. For example, Robinsons price for Cantaloupe is P135 per kilo, while the public market price is P40-P45 per kilo. I did buy one Cantaloupe, paying P85 for it because I want it for brunch tomorrow. We do not pass a public market with Cantaloupe on the route home.

There are several brands, Products of the Philippines, which produce Foreign Style Food items because many Filipinos also buy them. Some of the Philippines brands are good but mostly, I have found that they are not all that. For sure much cheaper, but while the cost is less, in many cases, the quality is also less. I had rather pay more, even double for better taste and quality. None of the local brands of Vienna Sausage measure up to Armour and Libby’s brands.

I am set with my shopping until May rolls around. And then I get to have more fun in being a Food Adventurer.

I can fry it, I can grill it or I can eat it right out of the can!

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Best Beef and Pork in Bacolod

Some expats in the Philippines value the beef they buy much more than others. They do not think twice about spending P1,500 for an imported American steak at the supermarket. I am not in this category. It is not important to me.

I didn’t move here expecting to find US Beef but it is available. More common at SM Supermarket is Australian Beef and while cheaper than US Beef, it is still pricey. I have been disappointed a number of times with the beef sold as Australian Beef. The exception was Beef Brisket but that is not exactly a prime cut, yet it was better than Rib Eye!

Other than in canned corned beef, I have not seen actual beef cuts from Argentina, Brazil or New Zealand.

I am still happy with the Monterey brand Porterhouse and T-Bone Steaks. P240 is about the average price for a large Monterey brand Porterhouse Steak. I marinate the steak several hours with pineapple juice before grilling and I never had one steak turn out tough.

Wagyu Beef is available in our area but the price is off the charts!

I avoid the local beef sold in public markets. Always too tough. It is a waste of money unless you want to feed the dogs. I also avoid the pseudo-steak houses. Been there, done that a few times and was always very disappointed.

Bahamas Meat Shop

My favorite place to buy pork in Bacolod is at Bahamas Meat Shop, located on Tindalo Avenue next door to Hua Kong Chinese Pharmacy. A German national is now making wonderful sausage and German style ham at Bahamas.

We shopped at Bahamas Meat Shop yesterday and loaded up for a family barbecue at our home. We bought Pork Steak and Pork BBQ Steak. Wow! Everyone enjoyed the grilled pork steaks last evening.

I also restocked with the Debrecener Sausage. It is really among the best sausage available in Bacolod, in my opinion. It is the real deal!

There are other sausages available at Bahamas, including the new Curry Sausage but we have not tried that one yet. Bratwurst is available.

There are ham roasts, pork chops and many other fine cuts of pork at Bahamas Meat Shop and I highly recommend your shopping there.

I hope to see you someday, somewhere…all around Bacolod!

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Love That Chicken From Popeyes!

I love that chicken from Popeyes. That is what I told my brother in Florida earlier this year and he was amazed. He didn’t know there were Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens in the Philippines. There’s not. We make Popeyes Chicken in our home kitchen. I got the original recipe from the internet and I can make Popeyes chicken from all locally sourced ingredients… at local prices. Nothing imported.

I paid P128 for a whole chicken and my wife cut it into pieces at home. I think White King Flour, product of the Philippines, is as good as any imported flour and at a fraction of the cost. McCormick brand herbs and spices are packaged in Quezon City, Philippines. Once again, they are priced for the Filipino wallet and not sold at imported prices. Mother’s Best and Mama Sita, also local brands, make an excellent version of Louisiana Hot Sauce. Want to be blindfolded and take the taste test?


I grew up eating the little Krystal Hamburgers. Nowadays, they are known as sliders. There are not any Krystal restaurants in our area of the Philippines but my wife and I make the little sliders all the time. In the southern part of the USA, we had Krystal. Up north, they had White Castle Hamburgers. Also sliders.

Drive A Little And Save A Lot

Bacolod is a mid-sized city and after living here 6 years, I know my way around. My wife and I both know the best places to shop for quality, without spending a small fortune. I know which grocery or specialty store has the best prices on what I want to buy.

Prices on imported food products can vary as much as P100 or more per item from store to store. It pays to check out all the stores, do price checks and then you will know where to shop. By knowing where to shop in the city you live in the Philippines, can save you up to 75% on your grocery shopping. You can believe that.

Imported VS Local Products

Unlike some foreigners, I rarely buy imported frozen food products. No, I will not spend P1,500 for a box of frozen cod fish or for a package of frozen Tyson Chicken. I am not spending P1,700 for a frozen steak from the USA. I pay P98 for a kilo of cream dory fish fillets, P128 for a 1 kilo whole chicken and P240 for a Monterey brand Porterhouse. I enjoy those very much and I don’t have to spend a ton of money when putting together a fabulous meal in the Bacolod area.

My wife shops at several public markets when buying fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits. In my opinion, Pure Gold, SM and Metro Supermarkets all have excellent ground round beef. I use ground round when making many different dishes at home. Burgers, spaghetti, chili, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chili mac, sloppy Joe and any dish calling for excellent quality ground beef.

I don’t have to spend hundreds of pesos when making my version of Mexican Cuisine at home. Mega Mexicana in Luzon, Philippines makes excellent quality taco shells, flour tortillas and corn tortillas. At a fraction of the cost of the same imported items. “Si Ortega?” No thanks, I don’t have to buy Ortega brand or Old El Paso, either.

I have been buying Ram brand Italian Spaghetti Sauce for the past 6 years. It is now P19 per vacuum sealed package, up from P17. All Ram items are products of the Philippines.

I do not like Ram brand pickle relish but I really enjoy another local product. Green Harvest pickle relish is P60 for the large jar. If you buy Vlasic or Heinz pickle relish, get ready for some bad news. P200 or more per jar.

I buy a number of imported items but it is because the items are not locally produced in the Philippines. Most of the items I buy are items used in preparing the dishes I enjoy. Horseradish, Lea & Perrins, A.1. Steak Sauce, Reese Mint Sauce, Kweichow Garlic Chili Sauce, Morehouse Mustard (the Official Mustard of the LA Dodgers), Heinz Malt Vinegar and similar items. I do not have to buy such items weekly or even monthly because I don’t use them all every single day. Some items will last me 6 months or longer.

Canned beans are another imported item I buy regularly. Pinto, white, baked, red kidney, black and black eye peas. I pay P31-P63 per can of beans that I buy.

Money to Burn

I know a few expats in Bacolod who have a large income from several pensions. They don’t mind going to the supermarkets and spending P12,000-P15,000 per week. Without cutting corners and buying quality locally sourced products as much as possible, my weekly grocery cost has similar figures. Only I spend P1,200 and not P12,000. I may spend P1,500 but never P15,000 in a supermarket.

Most of my meals are considered Western style. I recently used local large organic potatoes to make Potato Skins. I bought Virginia brand honey cured bacon, Nestle sour cream and Dari-Creme butter. Nothing imported and everything at local prices.

Avocado is P35 per kilo in our area. What about poached eggs over avocado and Century brand Corned Tuna? An avocado BLT with fried egg on good toasted bread is good anytime.

There are a number of Filipino dishes I really enjoy. I eat them regularly but not every meal or even everyday for that matter.

I have you started on the right foot. You don’t have to spend most of your retirement income to enjoy most all the dishes in the Philippines that you enjoy back home. If you don’t like cooking, it is very affordable to hire a full time cook in the Philippines. Just spend a little time in training them and supervising them, as they prepare the food you enjoy.

Happy shopping and happy eating.

I hope to see you someday, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~  Gary ~

Shop ‘Til You Drop

I enjoy shopping at Metro Supermarket around the 4th weekend of the month. This is the weekend that the food vendors are there at the Ayala Mall Weekend Food Fair.

Passing by Xin Chao Vietnamese food stand, I was about to order one of their very good Vietnamese Sandwiches, however, I had 2nd thoughts. The time was 2pm and none of the meat or veggies were refrigerated. All were inside a showcase to keep the flies away but it was a hot day. I know the meat had been out in the heat at least 4 hours and that is not good for pork! The restaurants at the Food Fair are outdoors, underneath a large, open sided tent.

My best Filipino friend was with me and we knew we could not go wrong by ordering and eating a hamburger from Das Burgery and that is what we did. Their burgers are among the best in the city. The price for their 101 Hamburger is P120.

Lord Byron Ribs were also present at the Food Fair. Baby back ribs with rice is P150. Lord Byron has great ribs!

Spend a Little, Buy a Lot!

I spent P1,081 at Metro Supermarket this afternoon.

The big ticket item was P185 for a bottle of La Victoria Green Taco Sauce.

Chicken leg quarters were P125 per kilo. A rack of pork shoulder ribs were P90 or P212 per kilo. I just needed the P90 rack.

Springfield Chili with Beans was P126 per can. I make good chili but I like having a couple of cans of commercial chili on hand in the event I need them for whatever reason.

A 1.4 lb squeeze bottle of Morehouse Mustard, the Official Mustard of the LA Dodgers, was P139.

The rest was spent on coffee, snacks and 1 Sapporo Beer.

I think overall, prices of shopping in Bacolod are holding steady and inflation remains low. You can still buy a lot with P1,000 in the supermarkets. I could not do this with $21.50 in The Swamp in Florida, at Walmart Supermarket. I shopped there last year April-May and I still recall the high prices. Maybe even higher now, 17 months later. If I take the time, I can do a current price check on the Walmart website.

At Walmart in The Swamp, 2 lbs of frozen Whiting Fish was $5.99. I pay P98 or $2.10 for a *kilo* of Cream Dory White Fish in Bacolod.

I can’t recall exactly but in The Swamp, the Libby’s Corned Beef was 30-50 cents higher for the same size can of Libby’s Corned Beef that I buy in Bacolod.

Metro and SM are my 2 favorite places to shop for groceries in Bacolod.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

No COLA? Take the Nestea Plunge!

Many Americans living in the Philippines, who are receiving a US Social Security pension, are up in arms because no COLA in 2016. What is COLA? COLA is Cost of Living Adjustment, which means a pay raise in monthly Social Security benefits.

Of course, most everyone wants to see more money each month than they received last year. Well, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. It’s not happening in 2016 if your Social Security Pension is your only source of income.

However, be not afraid or be dismayed because if you are living in the Philippines, you will do just fine. You can believe that!

Now, For the Rest of the Story

I would imagine areas of the Philippines with a high concentration of foreigners have a higher inflation rate for them in particular. Filipinos are not affected if horseradish jumps from P87 to P300 per jar because they don’t buy it in the first place.

DTI, Dept of Trade and Industry, maintains the latest information on their website concerning the prices of commodities that Filipinos buy. You won’t find Morehouse Mustard on that list. Chicken, pork, tilapia, bangus, rice, cooking oil are examples of commodities listed.

Skoal and Copenhagen jumped in price from P249 per can to P299 per can and then to P349 per can within one year at SM. Timber Wolf jumped in price from P200 to P250 to P300 per can during the same period. So called Sin Tax on imported tobacco products, I was told. Local tobacco products did not increase in price that much but they did increase.

It is true that people can create their own COLA by cutting out the waste and curtailing impulsive buying. It can be done without lowering the quality of one’s life or taking away their enjoyments in life. Some things are just psych ops anyway. Those who think Smucker’s is the only quality jam and preserves in the Philippines could give Clara Ole products a whirl. They may be surprised.

Locally Sourced Food Products

Clara Ole has Orange Marmalade, Strawberry Jam, Pineapple Jam, Mango Jam, Pineapple and Mango Jam, Calamansi Jelly and several others. I enjoy all these products and I don’t feel that I am Skid Row Joe because I don’t buy Smucker’s.

Over the past 6 years, trying local food products that are popular in the USA has been part of the adventure for me. Fita Crackers vs Ritz, Magnolia Cheezee Spread vs Cheese Whiz, Clara Ole Salad Dressing vs Wishbone, Ram and Fiesta Italian Spaghetti Sauce vs Ragu and Prego Spaghetti Sauce. These are just a few examples. If I like the local version I buy it. If I don’t like it, I don’t buy it. I still prefer Morehouse and French’s Mustard and an original Louisiana Hot Sauce to any local mustard or hot sauce.

A Scandinavian Chef in Bacolod introduced me to the new version of Beer na Beer several years back and I agree that it tastes better than San Miguel Pilsen. Beer na Beer is also a Pale Pilsen. The Chef serves Beer na Beer in his home restaurant. It is part of the full courses, which are indeed gourmet. I save P219 per case by buying Beer na Beer and I seriously enjoy it much better.

If I did not receive a COLA, I would just adjust and enjoy Iced Nestea Plunge or a Mango Shake. Those are good as well. Life will still be Happy.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

Super Metro

Metro 4

 We went to Metro today so I could look around since I had not been there in a couple of weeks

If I am not mistaken, imported Albers Cornmeal is a product of Washington State in the USA. That was my big ticket item today. P230.50 for a 2.8 lb box, which will last me at least 1 year, maybe longer. Some of the recipes I use Albers cornmeal for are Corn Bread, of course, Sweet Corn Muffins, Tamale Pie, Oven Fried Chicken and for battering various fried dishes.

I was looking for something to prepare a quick meal this evening for myself since Nanay is visiting us from the farm this weekend. I know all she eats mostly is fish & rice. She is pushing 80 now and still in relatively good health.

I found something at Metro. Hamburger Helper- Lasagna! No baking required. Just add browned ground round or ground beef, 2 3/4 cups of hot water, 1/2 cup of milk and the sauce mix from the box. Top with Parmesan Cheese if you like and add Red Pepper Flakes to spice it up if you like.The box states “Italian Style Sauce Mix with Real Oregano & Basil.” It was fast to prepare and I will most likely freeze most of the leftovers. No one but me in our home eats this kind of food! At least not usually but they are welcome to it anytime.

The Lasagna Hamburger Helper was P139.25 for the box. I will eat several times from what I made and I already had 1 kilo of ground round in the freezer but did not need all that today.

I like to keep a box of Instant Mashed Potatoes on hand and I paid P143 for the Springfield brand.

Snacks were also on my short list of things to buy today. Sea Pride Pusit Na Luto is one of my favorite snacks but I don’t eat it daily. Basically, it is Squid Jerky. I like it. A product of the Philippines and only P41.50 for the large package.

Sweets are not anything I eat on a regular basis but I like to have some when I want it. Basically, 30 Dewberry Strawberry & Cream Filled Cookies are P58.80. They are good and I never eat more than 3 at a time.

This is today’s update on prices in Bacolod at Metro for the things I wanted to buy. If you don’t live in an area with many imported food items for when you want them, Metro will run wild on you! I saw so many new arrivals but not really anything I was wanting or needing. Oh, I could have easily loaded up and spent P3,000 but my bill was only P682.55. I bought what I actually wanted. I did not need to buy any meat or seafood today and I did not see anything special to attract my Kano eyes.

Metro has many new canned soups from the USA but I prefer making my own soup with locally sourced fresh ingredients. I control the salt and sugar content.

It does not take much to make me happy in the Philippines! I am happy everyday! The Monthly Weekend Food Fair was outside Metro today, underneath tents. The Das Burgery 101 Burger is P120 and it is awesome in my opinion. Das Burgery does not have an actual restaurant unless they opened one fairly recently but they are at the Food Fairs, at major festivals and at other special events in the Bacolod Area.

Check out Metro and the Ayala Food Fair. I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary McMurrain ~