Grocery shopping in Cuenca is a bit different than in the U.S. There are a few grocery stores here that look just like a typical grocery store in the U.S. but for the most part, the grocery stores in the city center are small and have a large selection of dry goods and then smaller (or non-existent) sections of refrigerated goods, fruits, and veggies. The place to go to buy your fruit, vegetables and meat is one of the “open air” markets. There are a two that are within walking distance of our apartment, but one that we like more than the other.
The inside is very clean and open and it is organized by levels. Fruit and veggies on the main floor, meat downstairs and prepared food booths upstairs.
The juices here are awesome and made fresh right before your eyes. A glass (and not a small one) of fresh juice will run you $.50 – $1.
On the fruit and veggie floor, we usually go from booth to booth asking prices and checking out which produce looks good. There are different varieties of produce than we have in the U.S. and quite a few different fruits that they only use for juicing.
Here’s a blurry shot of me negotiating, which is definitely part of the shopping experience.
Because the markets are so close to us, we usually end up going 2-3 times a week to pick up exactly what we need for cooking and snacking. Here’s an example of a grocery haul from a few days ago.
We paid a total of $5.25 this time. Here’s the breakdown:
- 1 pineapple for $1
- 10 bananas for $.50
- 3 green plantains for $.50
- a bag of onions ~10 for $.50
- a bag of green peppers ~7 for $.50
- a bag of hot peppers ~10 for $.50
- a bag of limes ~12 for $.50
- a bag of tomatoes ~5 for $.50
- a bunch of green onions for $.25
- a bunch of cilantro for $.25
- a bag of garlic ~12 peeled cloves for $.25
Most of the produce stands sell bags of produce for $.50 to $1. A lot of the vegetables are $.50/bag and the fruit $1/bag but it just depends on what is in season and who is giving you the price. We probably are getting “gringo prices” on some of the stuff, but we honestly don’t mind because it still seems pretty cheap to us!