I remember living in Seattle and bitching about the produce. It was too expensive, not fresh enough, the avocados aren’t ripe/too ripe/there aren’t enough of them. Oh, look at the lines! This is ridiculous! How can I live under these conditions?! And then, I moved to Grand Cayman. Now, it’s rotten food that you’re just supposed to accept, pay a high price for, and actually eat. THE SLOWEST CHECKERS IN THE FREAKINNNNNNG WORLD. Seriously. They act like you’re bothering them, especially when they have to finish texting and put their phones down. And the lines! I’ll never complain when I go to the States again! I’ve learned, among other things, to bring a book with me when I go to the grocery store and the bank. Yes, grocery shopping on an island takes some finesse – and a whole lot of patience…

Here are my 10 Tips for Grocery Shopping on Grand Cayman:

1. Always check for mold and expiration dates.

EVERYTHING has to be shipped to the island, so unless you’re buying local, just know that whatever you’re buying has been stuck in a container that may or may not have been refrigerated. And it may or may not have already been old when it was put into that container in the first place. So whenever possible, buy local.

rotten produce collage_WWLOR

wilted cucumber – mildewy limes – furry beets

 

2. Buy local.  But also, be careful!

local cassava_WWLOR

How much more local can you get? Yup, that’s grated cassava in a plastic baggie. I can’t imagine there was much quality checking going on wherever this was packaged… This would NEVER be allowed back home!

But there is a lovely Farmer’s Market every Wednesday in Camana Bay – a perfect choice for your produce:

*picture courtesy of Nick Adendorff, owner of Green2Go Smoothies. If you're on island and are craving a Green Juice, email him at nick2812@gmail.com. The best local and organic juice for your money - he'll even bring it to your front door!!

*picture courtesy of Nick Adendorff, owner of Green2Go Smoothies. If you’re on island and are craving a Green Juice, email him at nick2812@gmail.com. The best local and organic juice for your money – he’ll even bring it to your front door!!

 

3. Do NOT go shopping on a Saturday night in West Bay.

Or in any district for that matter. Everything besides restaurants and bars are closed on Sunday, so make sure you stock up on whatever you need BEFORE the rush at 8:30pm on a Saturday night. It seems that everybody forgets this fact and rushes to shop at the exact same time. And don’t get me started with how sloooooow the checkers are. And you have to bag your own groceries. We really are spoiled in the US.

tv watching while shopping_WWLOR

But if you forget this warning and decide to go shopping anyway during the Saturday night rush, at least you’ll have some TV to watch while you stand in line. You and the checker can enjoy the TV, together.

4. Stay away from Reduced Price stickers.

white, dried up baby carrots anyone?

white, dried up baby carrots anyone?

“Reduced price” only means one thing: whatever it is should have been thrown away a week ago. Or never shipped here in the first place. These were all white and ollllld.

5. Don’t get your heart set on having a particular item.

You may have to go to two (and sometimes three or even four) stores to get what you need. Don’t forget about the Cayman Lime Shortage, otherwise known as Limepocalypse, that made the news in 2013. There’s also been weeks without bananas, chips, face wash, and let’s not get started about the clothes here. (It’s Tacky Tuesday every Tuesday…)

Oh, you wanted what used to be in that wide, gaping shelf hole? Yeah, sorry. They're out.

Oh, you wanted what used to be in that wide, gaping shelf hole? Yeah, sorry. They’re out.

 

6. If you have time, price check.

One store may have an item that’s much cheaper than another store. We have a Cost-U-Less (which sometimes is more of a Cost-U-More) – it’s supposed to be like a Costco, minus the membership. If you want a lot of something, go here. Typically the prices are cheaper and you get more, but not always. And if you find something that you like at a good price, buy as many of them as you can. For instance, I just found a 27oz jar of pure almond butter for $14.95 (that’s $18.69 US). But look how much the 16 oz jars are!

pb pricing_WWLOR

inexplicably, 27 oz of almond butter is CHEAPER than buying 16oz…

 

7. Choose your frozen food wisely.

Refer to Shopping Tip #2.

Brown peas?!  My favorite!!

Brown peas?!  My favorite!!

8. Wear pants.

Important notice: the grocery store is NOT the beach.

Important notice: the grocery store is NOT the beach.

This is NOT me body-shaming this woman. She can wear whatever she wants at the beach! AT. THE. BEACH. Would you walk into a Nordstrom in New York City wearing just your bikini bottoms? Ok. Maybe that’s a little extreme. But you get my point. This is a place of business. Put clothes on, people. It’s not hard to just throw a cover up on. Please and thank you.

9.  If you have a friend that lives on the island and you come to visit them, expect to be bringing an extra suitcase of stuff from home that they can’t live without.

You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. And it’s the little things that make you miss home. Certain candy, hair products, soda… Most of the time, it’s also just cheaper to get staples from Costco and have them brought over. My friend Brianna here with her score:

#islandgirlscore

#islandgirlscore

 

10. Excited to try that new recipe that you found on Pinterest? Don’t get your hopes up.

We may not even have the item that you’re looking for on the ENTIRE island, but if we do, it’s gonna cost you…

Twenty grams of Black Truffle: $104.05 Cayman dollars = $130.06 US dollars! Ouch.

Twenty grams of Black Truffle: $104.05 Cayman dollars = $130.06 US dollars! Ouch.

 –   –   –

What’s the grocery shopping like on your rock? Any tips you think we should add to the list?

Written By:

Shannon Whaley

Current Rock of Residence:

Grand Cayman

Island Girl Since:

2013

Originally Hails From:

Southern California / Seattle, Washington

A few vodka 7’s with a friend turned Shannon’s 2 week vacation to Grand Cayman into a plan to move to an island that, not only had she never been to, she also had no idea where it actually was. She was in the midst of a quarter life crisis and figured moving 2,988 miles away from friends and family to a 12-mile long island in the middle of the Caribbean would help somehow. A Virgo who loves yoga, Shannon relishes in taking naps in her spare time and isn’t above screaming obscenities at the roosters who interrupt said naps. Don’t they understand how exhausting island life can be? You can connect with Shannon on her website, Traveling Wild Woman.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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