Today’s topic is: Grocery Shopping!
Grocery shopping in Mazatlán is an experience with many choices and decisions to make. There are the big box stores – Costco and Sams Club (ok, Costco is in Culiacán – but there’s a monthly excursion people take to stock up). Then there are the big supermarkets – we have Soriana and Ley. We used to have Mega, but Soriana bought them and changed them over (it was a sad day). There are smaller groceries like Ley Express. Then there are the two mercados (Pino Suarez and Juan Carrasco). Next you have the corner abarrotes and the fruterias. Someplace in the mix you might want to consider convenience stores like OXXO and Kiosko.
I never use Costco or Sams Club. I’m one person and live in a 60 m2 (646 square foot) apartment with very little storage. Costco also has their crack chickens that make me forget to diet. They probably don’t actually rub crack on the chickens, but those things are addicting! I may do a Costco run just to go to Culiacán and explore for a couple of hours though. From what I understand, many Kirkland brands are the same as the USA/Canada, and available here at the Costco’s in México.
Soriana (Mega) / Ley – In the Pacific Northwest of the USA, the closest equivalent would be Fred Meyer. Groceries, clothes, deli food, a little of this and a little of that. They carry bigger sizes of things, and have a wider selection of brands. This is where I go for things like olive oil, cheddar cheese (it’s not, but kind of close), eggs, condiments, shampoo, razor blades, etc.
Ley Express – Fewer selections than the bigger grocery stores, and no clothes or outdoor furniture. They have a couple dozen brands of cheese – but all of them are cojita. They also have the gallon size of the orange drink I like. Veggies are cheap and in fairly decent shape.
Mercados (Pino Suarez and Juan Carrasco) – Fresh everything. Multiple vendors selling fruit, vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, dried goods, household products, etc. Very few of them display prices. When you shop here, you have to start off doing price comparisons. Quality is also a consideration. I shop for chicken and machaca at the mercado Pino Suarez. Some of the chicken shops aren’t too concerned with removing all the bones/cartilage from the chicken breasts. One has tiny pieces of bone mixed in with the chicken. The vendor I use rarely misses bone, and the chicken breasts are nice and clean. Currently 90 pesos for a kilo of chicken breasts ($2.15 /lb usd). My machaca is $100 pesos for a half kilo ($4.76 /lb usd). A half kilo of machaca is enough for breakfast all week! When I’m buying my chicken and machaca, I will also buy produce here if I need it. A couple of things to note: Beef isn’t typically aged much, if at all. it can be tough. Still good if you chop/grind it for hamburger. Eggs in México are not pre-washed, so they can sit out at room temperature. You need to wash them at some point before cracking them open. I do it when I get them home, then I refrigerate them. Also, I buy my eggs at the supermarket because they come in the egg cartons. If you buy them in the mercado they put them in a plastic bag loose. I don’t trust myself to get them home without breaking them. Shells do seem to be sturdier here though.
Fruterias – Fruits and veggies are the main items, but they also carry things like jars of salsa and hot sauce. Most of my produce comes from the fruteria down the street.
Abarrotes – these are corner mom & pop grocery stores. They carry a lot of different items, but the sizes are usually tiny and prices are higher. I would love to shop at my local abarrote, but I’d be going there all the time and would blow my budget all to heck. Great places though when you run out of something and just need it now.
OXXO / Kiosko / 7-11 – I don’t normally shop here. They’re just like 7-11/Circle-K in the USA. Beer, chips, candy, and cigarettes are the big items. Prices, surprisingly, are not double grocery store prices.
Not a place for groceries, but probably need to be mentioned, are the beer shops. Corona, Modelorama, SIX, etc. run in, grab a cold one (or six), run out. There are even drive through shops. I’ve seen people buy big bottles of water at the locations across from the malecón at Playa Norte – so don’t stand in a long OXXO line if you don’t have to!
I took my grocery receipt today and converted it to US quantities/prices. You can compare this to your location to get a feel for the difference in prices here. I had two large bags of groceries. Ok, one big reusable bag full, and several additional items in my backpack.