I thought I’d follow eemusings‘ example and talk a bit about how much food costs here in Canada.
I daresay food is more expensive there, but we still aren’t dirt cheap compared to how much things cost in the United States (not to mention the level of quality produce!)
We shop at lower end grocery stores, ethnic stores, and we’re picky about what we buy. Even if stuff is on sale, we still expect a certain level of quality and taste.
It’s surprising how many things here are tasteless, or mealy. We’ve learned to avoid certain vegetables as a result.
I saw in grocery stores downtown (mainstream ones) selling rotten strawberries for $3 a small box.
I mean, c’mon now!
We also don’t buy a lot of fresh tomatoes unless we can get them at a good price; they’re horribly expensive here for some reason at around $3.99/lb which is around $8 per kilogram, but that’s cheap compared to some places that charge $6.99/lb or $12 per kilogram!
The bulk of it purchased at an Italian (ethnic) grocery store in Montreal, QC, here’s a sample receipt from one week, translated:
We find the fruit very cheap and of decent quality at the Italian store, but the vegetables are far cheaper in Chinatown.
BF also bought 2 packages of chicken wings at a local grocery store for about $5 each for 10 wings (not pictured).
With the above, he made Parmesan dusted Chicken Wings with Porto flavouring (SO GOOD!) with the pasta.
The sauce on the wings are whole preserved tomatoes, onions and garlic.
Then I went to Chinatown and got 2 bunches of asparagus on sale for $1.50 each and some Thai basil for $1.00 (it didn’t go well with the dish, by the way).
This is the meal I made with it, with some chicken wings and a bit of pancetta. I don’t put a lot of meat because I’d rather add more veggies.
I washed the asparagus, cut it into thirds (removing the woody, stalk-y ends; only buy thin asparagus!!) and stirfried it in about 10 minutes with some butter and salt.
Added my already baked chicken wings (seasoning was just some salt) and pancetta, add some rice et voila!
The asparagus is good enough on its own. I am about to go back and get more next week to eat just as-is.
I also picked up a fresh bunch of grapes for $3.84 in Chinatown and I squeezed some for impromptu juice and it was SO DELICIOUS.
TOTAL SPENT FOR A WEEK: $79.36 for 2 adults
Which is about $317.44 a month or $158.72 per person/month.
We sometimes spend a bit more, sometimes a bit less.
It depends on what we feel like eating that month.
We had a little bit more meat than we normally would have (chicken wings AND pancetta? Usually we pick one or the other).
What really saves us money is that we don’t eat that much.
I say this because I’m currently reading Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by photography Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio.
I’m seeing what people eat around the world, and for some of the pictures, I’m thinking: WHOA. That’s a LOT of food.
The book is really incredible and comes highly recommended by yours truly. Full of great information and wonderful images, I am so pleased I bought it.
I also picked up What I eat around the world in 80 diets by the same duo. I can’t wait to start reading it.
What I am seeing in the books is that people in more developed countries spend a lot more on processed foods than sticking to the ‘real stuff’.
In the book, they make special mention of that too — as people get richer, their diets get worse by buying more processed stuff, junk food, eating out more and so on. The poorer you are, the less you have to spend on processed stuff.
As for us, we don’t buy processed items, no soda pop kept in the house, not a lot of candy (treats once in a while), we make things from scratch… I feel like that’s partly the reason why we spend less.
We also just do it to feel better. Eating processed or deep fried food is fine once in a while, but not all the time.
Maybe we should keep track (and perhaps try to photograph) what we eat in a week, treats and all.
OTHER THINGS WE DO BUY ON A REGULAR BASIS
- Other kinds of veggies or fruits
- Eggs — if I buy eggs, I don’t buy meat to eat
OTHER MISCELLANEOUS FOOD PICTURES
These are not just from this week but from the past 2-3 weeks I figured I could throw in here.
My mom sent home some pickled octopus she made for us, and we ate it cold, warm and at room temperature (the best).
BF put it on top of bread, on a whim and we enjoyed it even more! It has peppers, onions and lots of vinegar. SO good.
We also like simple foods. Brie on bread. The brie wasn’t so good (from Quebec), because it was too buttery, it didn’t have the flavour of brie. Still, I ate every bite.
As a treat, I also picked up some Italian pastries.I don’t know their names and they didn’t look familiar to me.
I wouldn’t say they are as good as Mike’s Pastry in Boston, Massachusetts, but they were decent enough for me to enjoy eating them, especially the ricotta cheese one!
Pick some up at Pasticceria Alati-Caserta in the Italian area of Montreal.
This one had a hard pastry shell I DID NOT like. The pastry cream was nice on the inside however.
This one I liked a lot better. Zeppole? Z-something, anyway.
The pastry wasn’t amazing, but it was better than the crusty hard shell one above.
The fillings I got were ricotta cream cheese (next two pictures) and pastry cream as the second.
I do wish the pastry was softer or something. It tasted a bit dry, a bit old.
Yummy pastry cream.
Still doesn’t beat Mike’s Pastry in Boston.
Also had some Japanese Cheesecake made in Chinatown (BF makes it far better..), but it was pretty good for the price and the quality.
And some jasmine tea jelly:
The jelly was refreshing, but not sweet. I’d love to eat it in the summer.
THIS IS WHAT I ATE IN TORONTO
And since I’m doing the post anyway, this is a sample of what I ate in Toronto.
We went to Matahari Grill in Toronto on Baldwin Street.
Review? DO NOT GO THERE. What a rip off.
The only decent thing were these Chicken Satay skewers. The rest was ho-hum and NOT worth the money.
Where you should go instead is Restoran Malaysia. It’s kind of out of the way, you have to drive about 30 minutes from downtown to get there, but it is authentic and SO WORTH IT.
This is just one of my favourite dishes there — Roti Canai (Chicken with Roti, a type of naan-like bread).
Picky natives always moan about how the roti is not really like “roti”, but whatever. It tastes good to me, so I’m sold.
This is one of the dishes that every kid (including myself) loves.
Deep fried turmeric chicken with shrimp chips. WIN WIN. SO yummy.
Before I left for Toronto, BF made duck sausage “hotdogs” for me. French-style, he said.
Morbier cheese melted on top, green onions on a baguette and delicious duck sausage, although I found this one too orange-y.
I also bought this weeks ago but never posted it.
Deep fried shrimps from Fung Shim (no, I really don’t eat deep fried stuff all the time ), and I made 6 meals out of this by adding vegetables I bought in Chinatown and white rice.
And here’s a nice vegan meal I made for a couple of days because I couldn’t get enough.
Chickpeas boiled with a teaspoon of baking soda, some green onions and miso paste.
You can also eat this with white rice, on bread… sometimes it turns vegetarian with a little cheating poached faux hardboiled eggs.
Read about some other recipes here on how to cook for cheaper, quicker and to eat at home.
WANT TO READ MORE REVIEWS?
If you are ever interested, I am starting to post reviews on Yelp, and I have a list of recommendations (things to do/see and things to avoid) on a page called “Places” on this blog from every city and place I’ve been to or lived in.
It’s a work in progress, so please go easy!