Last Tuesday we went to the grocery store here on Formentera. There are 4 or 5 small towns on the island and the biggest town, Sant Fransesc, has a supermarket. All of the towns have small convenience stores, but they don’t have the variety and the prices are rather high. That being said, even these little convenience stores are a step-up from the ones in the Galapagos in terms of variety. I was rather impressed by Eroski, the supermarket in Sant Fransesc, mostly because I was envisioning the Galapagos when I came here, later to find out there is 5x the population here than on Isabela and those people need food! What I was most excited to find in the supermarket was store brand items. The exchange rate from euros to dollars is terrible and after all we are poor college students (I was a little terrified when I looked at the balance in my bank account the other day, good thing I will be making some money this summer). Food is expensive and when we are out working in the field, instead of say, sitting in class, we need to eat a lot of it to keep us going. Thankfully we have started to figure out what foods give us the best bang for our buck and which ones we need to give up (peanut butter, tortillas, shredded cheese) in order to save money.
Breakfast usually consists of cereal. The Eroski brand corn flakes cost €1.13 for a box that is double the size of a normal cereal box. The milk is €0.96 per box. (The milk comes in boxes and never goes bad so no refrigeration needed before opening. Surprisingly, it tastes pretty good.) I cut up a banana on top, which cost between €1.60-1.90 per bunch. For lunch we were originally planning to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but after we used up the jar of Jif I brought with me from the states, we found out that peanut butter costs €3.80 for a jar that is half the size of the mini one I bought from CVS before I came here. After the exchange rate you are looking at $5.70 for 340g of peanut butter. That is NOT cost effective and pretty ridiculous especially when considering the side of the jar says it is distributed from the USA. Come on USA! Your citizens need cheap peanut butter while abroad! Instead we do tuna or pepperoni and cheese sandwiches. The tuna costs €1.39 for 3 cans. (1 can makes 1 sandwich, but we can easily eat 2 sandwiches per meal.) The pepperoni costs €1.35 and makes many sandwiches. All of these are store brand items of course. Their comparisons that are name brand sometimes cost double or triple the price. The store brand wheat bread is the best deal of all. €0.96 per loaf! For dinner we make things like chicken nuggets (€2.43 per bag in the frozen section), tortellini (€1.62 per bag), or pasta (€0.54 per large bag) along with frozen veggies. We also eat fruit, chips, yogurt, crackers, and other snacks throughout the day, which are also cheap.
Thank you Eroski for providing us with store brands so we can escape paying hundreds of dollars every time we go food shopping. I am slowly learning how to save money on my own and feed myself quality food while not spending a ton of money. Last time we spent €92.09, but the food will carry us through (hopefully) a week and a half. If you do the math, the per person cost of food is about $32 per week. I’ve never lived on my own before and had to provide myself with food (this experience will start this summer), but this doesn’t seem that bad to me. What do you think?