What’s the deal with the grocery stores in Belize?
In the book “Belize, not for me,” the author describes the poor condition of our country’s Chinese owned grocery stores and complains of the expensive food. I laughed and read it out loud to my husband, Will, and he was as amused as me. This is funny to us because we do not get most of our food at the grocery stores, like we did when we lived in the U.S. If you have an extended vacation here, we suggest you shop like a local too, instead of going to the Chinese stores.
So, where do we get our food?
Hopkins is a fishing village, so here, we eat a lot of fish. When we see the frigatebirds circling, we know the fisherman have landed with their catches. We go over to the fisherman’s shack and purchase a fish of our choice for $2.50US/$5BZ a pound or $5US/$10BZ for filet. For produce, we go to the fruit and vegetable stands or the markets in the larger towns. They also carry locally made coconut oil, honey, plantain and cassava chips. (Doritos, Cheetos, and potato chips are all imported from the U.S. and are expensive, but plantain and cassava chips are locally made and sell for $1BZ/.50US.)
We choose not to buy our meats from the grocery stores either as we do not find them to be reliable in storing food. Instead, people purchase directly from the trucks. (You do not have to be a business to purchase directly for the trucks of places like Caribbean Chicken or Western Dairies.) In addition, there are many local producers that come weekly to sell their products.
In Hopkins, Thursday is the “delivery” day and they delivery to the Inn. Joan and Walter sell us our chicken and eggs for the week. Another fella comes and sells pork and beef. And another one delivers specialty products, like beet relish, pickled peppers, and chocolate. We purchase bread and pastries from local women and they run about $1BZ/.50US per loaf/pastry.
Sometimes, tourist think they are saving money by picking up things like luncheon meat, bread, and chips at the grocery store, but, these are some of the more expensive food items because they are not made here in Belize. Imported foods are more expensive. The bread is made in Belize, but many times it sits on the shelf and quickly molds. Purchasing bread locally or asking a restaurant to make them a few tortillas to use as wraps are better options. Picking up “fast food” is also cheaper than grocery store shopping. Burritos run $2US/$4BZ burrito and panades, tacos, or sambutes that sell for a$1-$2BZ and three makes a good amount for a meal.
In Belize, many times simply eating out at a local restaurant is cheaper than trying to get all the ingredients at the grocery and spending long hours in the kitchen. Stew chicken, rice and beans sells for $8BZ/$4US and there are no dishes to wash!