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 ~

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 ~

I’m Back! Sweet Home Philippines

I haven’t forgotten about ya! I had to make a 4 week visit to Florida to be with my American family there due to some urgent medical issues and procedures among them. I am very happy being back in Sweet Home Philippines!

During my 4 week visit to Florida, I gained a very fresh perspective concerning life in Florida and life in the Philippines. The overall cost of living is 3-4 times less in the Bacolod Area than the cost of living in NE rural Florida! That’s the fact. I know because I know how much money I had to spend there and I know how much money I have to spend here. Same amount! I get a lot more bangs for my buck.

Two days ago, I went to Bacolod SM Mall to do a little grocery shopping and I spent about $20. What’d I get? A package of Australian lamb chops, honey cured bacon, ribs, hot dogs, ground round beef, ground lean pork, a package of 10 Bounty Fresh Chicken thighs, coffee, 1 liter of cooking  oil, Nissan chocolate wafers, potato chips, a few other odds & ends and Japanese Asahi Beer! Now, is that all a deal for $20 or what?

Way out in the boonies. SW County Road 240 in NE Florida, is Nettles Sausages and it is the only place in that entire area where the meat prices are about the same as in the Bacolod Area! Tell me what’d I say? The Nettles Meats are as cheap as in Bacolod City and I will tell you exactly why. They produce their own meats and there is never a middle man. At Nettles, $20 will get ya 5 packages of their fresh meats. A good variety at that! Now, this is great, isn’t it?

Yep, that’s me on Nettle’s porch.

If you would like to read a more detailed comparison about the cost of living in Florida compared to the Bacolod area, please read my new article on Retiring to the Philippines. I think you will enjoy it and also see exactly what I am trying to tell ya!

I am really excited about my new book that I am writing! It is about a comprehensive topic that very few have ever written about concerning the Philippines. It is truly a topic where very few have ever gone! I will keep you informed and let you know when it is published and available for reading.

Take care Amigas and Amigos. I hope to see you one day, somewhere..all around Bacolod!