Living in Ireland: Groceries

Food. We all need it. We all hope someone else will cook it for us. Am I right?

One of the questions I often get about Ireland is how much do groceries cost?

Because I’m a smart aleck, I like to say “it depends.”

Seriously, though. It really does.

In general, I find things like cereal or pre-packaged foods (e.g. macaroni and cheese) to be more expensive – especially if you want a brand name. If you are okay with store brands, then you can find great deals.

So far, I find produce and dairy products to be very reasonably priced and of excellent quality.

It does crack me up that orange juice with pulp is called orange juice with bits. I love that. Also, I can make two separate dishes out of that 2 lb. package of hamburger for our family of four. Or, we can eat tacos all week…but I’m the only one who thinks that’s okay in this house.

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Here’s an example of one recent grocery trip and a sampling of what some of those items cost.

Bag of sweet potatoes – €1.46
Carrots – €.89
Grapes -€ 2.19
Banana – €.36 each
String cheese 8 count – €2.03 (it was on sale)
Blueberries – €2.19
Red Peppers – €1.50
Bag of Salad Greens – €1.15
Chicken – €5.00
Chocolate Milk – €1.59
Coffee – €6.50 (that size was on sale)

All of the items below totaled €32.38. If you are converting euros to U.S. dollars, a rough estimation is €1 = $1.10. So, the below items cost $35.23.

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Here’s another example for you with some non-food items and a sampling of what some of those items cost.

Frozen shampoo – €2.69
Large black trash bags – €1.99
Small white trash bags – €1.00
Clothespins – €2.85
Hand soap – €1.64 each
Contact lens solution – €8.27
Brown (wheat) flour – €1.85
OxyClean – €3.30
Baking Yeast – €1.89
Salsa – €1.00
Artisan bread – €2.00
Cereal (500 g) – €4.49
Laundry detergent (21 washes) – €1.79

This shopping trip, which also included some dairy items that weren’t in this picture, was €49.56, which is $54.09.

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Grocery stores here offer a loyalty card with various vouchers or coupons that you can earn. I mainly shop at Tesco because of convenience, quality and price. I do shop at SuperValu for items I can’t find at Tesco (such as molasses). Their prices are higher, but their customer service is amazing. Lidl also has stores here and then there are a variety of organic-type stores too. It’s also very common to see stand-alone butcher shops and bakeries.

Self-checkout is really popular in Ireland and it’s a lot easier than what I was used to in the United States. That’s mainly because everything – even produce – has a barcode. So they are mainly selling items by unit, not by weight.

If you are in a lane with a cashier, it is not unusual to see the cashier sitting on a cushioned barstool instead of standing. Also, it doesn’t matter what lane you are in, you have to bag everything yourself. If you don’t have a bag and need one, you’ll have to pay for it. To contrast, clothing stores are more than happy to give you a free bag for your purchases.

All in all, I’d venture to say we are spending a little less on groceries than we did in the United States. What I am most happy about is that we waste virtually zero food. I attribute this to the frequency of my grocery shopping (almost daily) and because we don’t have room to store a lot of extra food. Food doesn’t have a chance to spoil when you are buying smaller quantities more frequently. Go figure! In my past experience, the more often I went to the store, the more often I’d buy stuff we didn’t need. I haven’t fallen prey to that reality here simply because I have to carry everything I buy home – either in a backpack or a reusable shopping bag. I can’t emphasize enough how this really helps you prioritize your purchases! My biceps seem to benefit too. We don’t have any plans to get a car, but if we do, all bets are off.

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