Well, this morning I took some time out to laboriously draw up a list of some basic food and household goodies and what they cost. As admin is not my strong point this was a labour of love. I think. Or maybe it was just me being a little dumb because, if you really are so inclined, you can pop onto the Countdown website and see for yourself what things cost. Anyway, it wasn’t such a pointless and futile effort as it has forced me to re-familiarise myself with what some things cost, and it also reminded me of a few things I needed to learn about grocery shopping New Zealand style.
For the sake of this article, I am only going to mention two of the grocery supermarkets (there are others) which heaps of people use – namely Pak n Save (NZ owned and operated) and Countdown (Aussie owned, I think – don’t quote me on that). Pak n Save is like a big warehouse, rudimentary merchandising and you pack your own bags (which you can either bring with you or purchase from the tellers). They pride themselves on being cheaper, and often they are, but Countdown has a loyalty card which can make them competitively priced if you shop their specials and use your One Card (loyalty card). Unfortunately, Pak n Save doesn’t have an online shop, so it will be tricky to compare prices, product for product. But Countdown does have online shopping which makes checking out what everyday groceries will cost you fairly easy. And, given that New Zealand is home to countless sales, chances are, you’ll get a fairly good idea, as to what to expect.
Now, when grocery shopping, here are a few things to consider.
Yes, you can buy Freshpak Rooibos, Ouma Rusks, Tennis biscuits and All Gold Tomato Sauce at both Countdown and Pak n Save. Sometimes they have an international section/isle and you can buy your old favourites there, and sometimes those things actually appear on the shelves alongside the Kiwi brands – so at the Pak n Save in our little town, the All Gold tomato sauce can be found with all the other tomato sauces! Mrs Balls is also easy enough to find. If you really are longing for good ol’ SA products, you can also visit the local SA Shop. Our lovely local is called Mama Africa (check them out on FB) and we are quite partial to their koeksisters. SA shops will sell just about anything you could be longing for from SA – from Bisto to Biltong (en droëwors), Cream Soda to samp and Springbok mielie meal. Just remember you will pay quite a bit more, so save the Pronutro and Futurelife for high days and holidays.
Speaking of breakfast cereal. The dairy products in NZ are pretty good. However, you will need to decode your milk by the colour of its lid. Dark blue = full cream, light blue=light, green=trim, silver=full cream non-homogenized (has the cream that floats to the top) and yellow top, from what I can see = added calcium (fortified). You also get a wide range of dairy alternative milks, so if you prefer soy or almond or rice or coconut, they have something for everyone.
When it comes to bread, well, not all bread is created equal and you’ll have to find the one that suits your taste and health requirements – but the range is wide so there is plenty to choose from. Personally, we enjoy the local bakery over the supermarkets’ offerings, but each to their own. The only thing to remember is whether you want your loaf sliced “toast” (thicker) or “sandwich” (thin) – you’ll see toast or sandwich on your pre-sliced, store bought bread too. Now you know. Oh, and NZ butter is just plain good! Their regular butter is like Woollies butter… Just saying.
So that covers breakfast – moving on to lunch. Just kidding. Seriously, we can’t do lunch until we have covered morning tea (also known by ye old English “elevenses”). Which means we must digress and contemplate coffee for a while. Kiwi’s love their coffee and it’s not uncommon to see people making their way around town with a cuppa something in hand. Perhaps it’s the weather here, but there is something just so comforting about a mid-morning cuppa java (the one that comes a few hours after the effects of your early morning kick-out- of-bed cuppa have worn off). And you can take it with you – kind of like the Americans do on American movies. So, whatever your poison, be it flat white, short black, long black, latte, Americano et cetera et cetera, you can have that with vanilla, caramel and hazelnut flavour and, well you get the picture… For those instant coffee people who prefer Douwe Egberts over Nescafe – you’ll be pleased to know that Douwe Egberts goes by the name Moccona here in NZ. The bottle even looks the same.
This week’s piece on grocery shopping is getting a little long so I’ll split it and next week we can broach the subject of fun things such as GST (like VAT – yawn!), sales, The Warehouse and pav.