Food and Other Necessities in Panama
I can’t say that I know all about the availability of all grocery items in Panama yet. However, I can say a few things about what I have personally found out. Grocery shopping and available items depends on which city you are living in and whether you want to travel to a bigger city to find items that your local grocery stores do not carry.
Boquete Grocery Stores
In Boquete, there are at least 5 small, small mom and pop grocery stores with a couple of aisles. These places carry the basics only. The largest grocery store in Boquete is called Romero’s. It has a small deli, (which is always crowded), good vegetables and fruits, variety of meats, fish (if in), and chicken. It also has a variety of cheeses and local brands.
All grocery stores in Panama can carry liquer, which except for a few holidays you can buy any day of the week. Romero has a good selection of wine and liquer as well as of course the Panamaian beers, Atlas, Balboa and Panama.
Also in Boquete is a smaller grocery store called Deli Baru. It is quite a bit smaller than Romeros, but it has many imported items and specialty things that Romero’s does not carry. It has become one of Kevins favorite places to shop.
There is also the Mandarin supermarket. It is extremely clean and has reasonable prices. It is about the same size as Deli Baru. There is also another market on main street where the expats claim they have the best ground beef to purchase.
Several expats go into David once in awhile to stock up on items from the bigger grocery stores like the El Rey. This grocery is every equal to our own King Soupers.
Boquete Farmers Markets and Stalls
There are quite a few small permanent stalls set up in town that sell local vegetables and fruits. We have found that these places have great prices, much better than the grocery stores and the produce is fresher. Kevin has found his favorite place to go. It is off the main street one block in a very clean small building. We bought cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, papaya and carrots there so far. We will be back.
At the center of town is the central park and to one side is the farmers market. It is an open air covered area, where dozens of vendors have small stalls set up selling their own produce and fruits. We went in and purchased 4 bananas for 30 cents.
How Much Do Food and Staples Cost Here?
It really depends on how you intend to shop. If you want to buy Doritos chips you can expect to pay four to five dollars a bag. If you make popcorn with a local bag of popcorn then 50 cents. If you want Foldgers coffee then you can pay ten dollars a pound, if you buy local fresh coffee dried here , you can expect to pay five dollars a pound. If you want wine from California, (which they consider imported) you will pay nine-twelve dollars a bottle. If you buy wine from Chile, (which they consider local) you will pay under five dollars. And the wine is good, just so you know.
People here take for granted all the food that grows wild on trees here. In our four block walk each day to the main highway, we pass fruit trees in vacant lots boasting large grapefruits, bananas, chayote and who else knows what I haven’t discovered grows wild here under our eyes.
Our landlords here grow chayote and bananas, that they harvest. Kevin has even learned how to cook chayote. (another story later).
We are trying to eat and cook like the Panamanians do. They eat good fresh quality food. These people are not obese. I am keeping track of our spending for the month of November and will update you with our entire budget once I get all the bills in.
Things I Haven’t Found Yet
Things we have not found yet, but are still searching for include oddly enough, baking soda. We have looked in David and every grocery store in Boquete. No one carries it. It is hard to find Kleenex, believe it or not. It is nearly impossible to find liquid detergent for clothes. You can find twenty five different kinds of powder laundry soap though. They also do not have any real cleaning supplies like Mr. Clean or Pinesol. I also have not found, at least in Boquete anyone who carries office supplies, like copy paper. We will look in David next week.
Found it: Look in the cleaning section of the grocery store. It is in with floor cleaner, windex, that type of stuff.
This is easy to remedy by just adjusting how you do something and what you use. The adventure continues in grocery store land.