Thursday, September 20, 2007

How to Spend Very Little on Groceries in Japan

I know I'm still about a month behind in my posts, but I figured if I don't start posting current stuff (i.e. as it happens), I'm just going to keep falling further and further behind!

Anyway, here's my random list of "tips" on how to live with a grocery budget of ¥1000-2000 ($10-$20)/week--all from personal experience!

In no particular order...

  • like eggplant, tofu, small green peppers, and bananas--some of the cheapest food available!
  • have a high tolerance for repetition: I have eaten the same dish (eggplant, green peppers and sometimes tofu with packaged sauce--all cheap ingredients!) 2-4 nights/week for the past 5 weeks, and I'm not sick of it yet!
  • appreciate simple foods: grilled cheese or tuna sandwiches, baked potatoes, onigiri, etc.
  • appreciate bland foods: keeping a large variety of spices, condiments, etc. on hand can get costly; the only condiments I've purchased so far have been soy sauce, mayonnaise, "Tare" sauce (available only in Towada/Aomori), and salt, and I hardly even use them!
  • introduce yourself to/make friends with your neighbours: one neighbour gave me potatoes and tomatoes!
  • show interest in different Japanese foods: a teacher at my base school talked about eating "soumen" and I asked her what it was, then today (2 weeks after she explained it to me), she gave me a package of soumen, a bottle of the sauce for it, and a handwritten explanation of how to cook/eat it!
  • teach at an elementary/junior high school: you will usually be provided with a school lunch at little to no cost! Not only are these lunches quite large, but they're also reasonably balanced/healthy! I always try to finish my lunch at school so I can get away with a small dinner at home
  • bring a large bag of your favourite cereal with you from home: I haven't had to worry about breakfast once yet since coming to Japan!
  • eat your cereal with a banana: again, bananas are cheap, and the space they take up in your bowl will help you to conserve your cereal, so it will last longer!
  • drink tap water: it's perfectly safe; if you don't like the taste, invest in a Brita filter (I inherited one from my predecessor) or boil your water before drinking
  • invest in ¥100 ($1) onigiri molds: onigiri are cheap and filling, and the molds make making them fun and easy!
  • store your bread in the freezer: for some reason bread expires very quickly in Japan (2-3 days after the purchase date is typical)
  • limit your grocery shopping trips to once or twice a week: if you don't see all the different foods available (particularly ready-made foods) you won't be tempted to try them!
  • start a blog: instead of snacking, I go on the internet when I'm bored; if I don't have anything else to do online, I can always update my blog!


ceci said...

Hahaha, LOVE this post!!!

Reminds me of our "100 Things to Know When Travelling to Europe List". :P

Presea said...

Speaking of which, we've got to get that written/published/posted somewhere one of these days!

ceci said...

Ohmygosh, I can't believe you replied within 10 minutes! It's like talking to you in person! :)

haha, I'm at work super early today... and i actually have time to check your blog again, before starting on projects. :P

i'm gonna go read your new entry now...

Miyu said...

Start a blog!!!! LOL
Now you're getting creative!
When you come back to TO, please bring back these molds so I can make Onigiri for lunch... :D