Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Grocery Shopping in Singapore

I've never really been much to do the grocery shopping at home in the Philippines.  I mean, really GROCERY SHOPPED as if the family's everyday nourishment depended on it.

I lived with the paternals (my Parents) for most of my life so the madir and padir were more or less in control of what type of food we'd have at home.  When I did start living on my own during my mid-20s, I'd usually opt to either eat out, have take out meals at my place, or simply survived with chicken and the makings of a lite salad in the fridge.  I knew how to cook a few dishes; but living alone made me really lazy to harness my inner culinary diva-ness.  Naks!

That being said, I've only appreciated the finer arts of grocery shopping when I moved here to Singapore to be with the Husband.  And let me tell you, it was a huge eye opener for me.

Cold Storage, Harbourfront Centre, Singapore

Where to Buy Them?

First off, yes, Singapore also has numerous wet markets located in different areas around the Lion City; but for the uninitiated like the Husband and I, we prefer to do our grocery shopping in supermarkets.

There are a number of supermarket chains here; but we usually frequent NTUC FairPrice, a local grocery retailer, since (1) it's the nearest to our place (only 10 to 15 minutes by bus), and (2) the goods they offer are priced at a much more budget-friendly rate as compared to most of their counterparts.

Aside from NTUC FairPrice, we also like shopping at Giant Hypermarket, another major retailer chain here and of which, in my opinion, has the most number of produce (fruits and vegetable) offerings available, whenever we find ourselves near a branch.

For years, French multinational retailer, Carrefour, also had branches here in Singapore.  They provided residents quality Frech food items at an affordable price; plus they usually hold book fairs every few months (I bought my well-loved The Thirteenth Tale here during my very first Singapore trip in 2008.)  But alas, they recently closed shop and stopped operations here.  So sad.  L

Conveniences

Before we move on to the food, allow me to list down some conveniences that supermarket retailers here have set in place for both their workers and patrons.

First up, grocery carts here in Singapore are equipped with coin locking mechanisms which keeps them connected to the carts before them and teetered on a designated space. 

Grocery cart at Giant Hypermarket with a coin locking mechanism

Once a S$1 coin is inserted into the slot, the cart's lock is released and it can then be used for shopping.  Patrons are then "forced" to return their carts to proper depository areas after use in order to reclaim their coin.  It thereby prevents the careless and intentional abandonment of these things in parking areas (which are major causes of accidents and nuisances to both patrons and shop workers).  It also makes it easier for shop personnel to return these carts to the stores.

I wish we had these in the Philippines.  About time we become responsible, no matter how small a task may be.

Since most grocery stores here are situated in the basement, and to a lesser extent on the top levels, of malls; special grocery cart escalators are installed to make it easier to bring out carts to parking areas or taxi stands.  What makes these things so awesome is that it keeps your cart in place while on board.

Grocery carts here have unique back wheels that catches on to the grooves in these special escalators, locking them in place while in motion.  Very convenient!

People and grocery cart escalator

The Goods

Food here, like everything else, is a little expensive (compared to the same items we buy in our local, a.k.a. the Philippines, grocery stores).  Some retailers do carry house brands which cost significantly lower than their branded counterparts.

We do try to purchase house brands as much as possible.  But if we aren't satisfied with the product (like the FairPrice oyster sauce that didn't meet our standards in taste), we'd revert back to tried and tested brands.

Source: FairPrice Online website

Filipino food items can be bought here as well.  Most private estates (i.e. executive condominiums, etc.) have small grocery stores located inside their compounds that stock up on the basics.  Since there is a growing Filipino community here, it was only time that they also started selling some of our local food stuff.

Small grocery store inside a private estate

Recently, we also found out that Filipino food items can now be bought at our regular FairPrice grocery outlet.  Woohoo!

Filipino items lined up along the "International Food" aisle

We found these local beauties lined up along the "International Food" aisle.  I did an about take when I read the aisle's sign, then realized that I wasn't in the Philippines anymore.  *Sigh*

Well, at least we find comfort in the fact that our favorite Pinoy food products can now be bought in our regular supermarket.  Prices are a bit higher, of course.

Lorins Patis selling for S$1.50

Now I definitely know a small bottle of Lorins Patis (fish sauce) does not costs Php49.50* (selling here for S$1.50).  Well, you take what you can get...

One thing I find really annoying when doing the grocery shopping here is the limited variety of Southeast Asian fruits and vegetables available in some major grocery chains.  Take for instance calamansi.  I rarely am able to spot a bag here at our regular store.  When I do find one, I purchase a bag immediately since it would most probably not be in stock again the following week.

Produce section at a grocery store


There are lots of Western and cold weather produce here like apricots and even fresh plums, but the local ones that I am used to seeing in SM Supermarkets and other similar grocery stores in the Philippines, not so much.  I've always wondered why though.

Oh!  And one of the best things here.  Most major supermarkets have a dedicated sushi and sashimi bar (for take-away/take-out only).  Mind you, these are not like those sold in our grocery stores.  Here in Singapore, these servings are delicious!  Sushi rice isn't dry and the food itself is highly edible.  Very tasty.  I buy at least a small serving here for merienda (afternoon snack).  Yum!

Sushi and sashimi area

Grocery shopping here always makes me miss my family more.  *Sigh*

*S$1 = Php33

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Planning to visit?  Drop by my "Getting Around Singapore" post (click here) for more details on how to get around the Lion City.

3 comments:

  1. Coin lock mechanism? Cool! We should have that here in the Philippines!

    www.joeiandme.com

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  2. I like the thing about the grocery carts. Though I'm not sure if grocery owners here would spend a little more for those carts. I hope they'll do. :)


    http://www.dekaphobe.com/

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    Replies
    1. I doubt if they'll be willing to do that here. Some business owners are just too greedy sometimes e. Preferring to cut corners. =(

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