It can be cheap as chips ordering a meal out on the streets of Bangkok. That’s what most locals do too because most apartments or even condos don’t have full kitchens. But you’re still going to need groceries to stock your fridge and keep some non perishable foods tucked away in the cupboards.
Good news is that supermarkets in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, is that I can find a lot of my favorite brand name food items, like Doritos and Spam, yummmm… not eaten together of course.
Bad news is prices can be more expensive and even though there are sales and discounts you don’t really save that much at all. There are of course substitutes but if you’ve eaten a lot of Spam in your lifetime you will know that Hormel, the original maker of Spam is king and all other brands are just cheap imitations.
And being and Asian dude finding my favorite Asian groceries is not a problem at all either. But again, some of the Asian grocery items I can’t live without are Nissin Ramen Noodles. I can’t live without my favorite packaged ramen and as much as I like it, I’m not going to spend a little over $1USD for one pack in Thailand. While a pack back in NYC cost .50¢ at a Chinese supermarket. So when I’m back in NYC I usually stuff around a dozen before my flight to Thailand.
Again, there are of course a lot of other different brands of ramen that are much cheaper in price. Not sure about taste though since I haven’t tasted them all. But I’m not going to risk going over an MSG overload just to find a new and cheaper ramen in Thailand. And old habits die hard so I prefer Nissan brands because I’ve been eating it since I was a kid.
Now in a past post I eluded that it if you are searching for an apartment in Bangkok it is a smart move to choose one near a supermarket. One that is ideally in easy walking distance or easily reached by local cheap transport like a bus or a motorbike taxi. Taxis are plenty and cheap in Bangkok too and I suppose you can use one every time you go grocery shopping. Personally I don’t mind taking a short stroll while carrying my newly bought goodies because that’s what I have always done in NYC.
So there are quite a few large supermarkets in Bangkok. The ones I live in walking distance to are called Villa Market, Tesco Lotus and Tops Market.
Of the three mentioned Villa Market carries the most brand name products that would be familiar with Americans. Most of them are frozen foods though like TV dinners and such and even though the prices are higher they are reasonable given that most of the products traveled all the way from the US.
Even though I like Villa Market, I do about 90% of my grocery shopping in Tesco Lotus and Tops Market. The reason why is the latter 2 markets are in a busier location and closer to each other. I enjoy eating at the Ichiban Ramen Restaurant inside the same building as the Tesco Lotus. And Tops Market has an awesome food court in the basement level of the Central Ladprao Mall.
By the way, you should sign up with Tesco Lotus and Tops Market member cards. It’s free and if you’re going to be shopping at those two places, why not earn some points for future discounts. You should certainly sign up for the Tops One Spot Card. Those are great because you can earn points in any Central branded mall, Robinson’s Mall, Zen shopping centers and Power Sports. Believe me, those points add up fast. I always use up my points whenever there’s a big sale on clothes inside Central Malls. It’s way worth it and should be on your check list so remember, sign up for Tops One Spot Card.
Since both are larger supermarkets I can find more choices and options plus since I have so much spare time I don’t mind strolling around the aisles and discovering new goodies much to the detriment of my diet.
One thing that I have noticed is that in Thailand, dairy products are expensive. Particularly milk and cheese. Half a gallon of milk in Thailand cost $2.88USD in today’s current exchange rate. Now in NYC I can buy a gallon for $3.50USD plus tax. I use a lot of milk for cereals and smoothies in NYC and I will never complain about prices here again. Though not quite sure why yogurt is more reasonably priced in Thailand, however it is still cheaper in the States. A small container cost me about .50¢ and the serving size is smaller than what I am used to in NYC.
Sliced cheese is ridiculously expensive. Not sure what the current price is now because I stopped checking until someone at a Thai cheese factory comes to their senses and bring the prices down. Ham is equally just as expensive. This is bad news for a guy like me who loves and enjoy sandwiches way more than he should. I guess it would make sense though for ham and cheese to be a bit pricier since it’s not something you would find in an average ordinary Thai household.
I miss cooking a lot while in Bangkok. Aside from cooking my ramen noodles with Spam and eggs with one of those induction stove tops. But I only make that meal as a treat. What I really miss is cooking a full on meal like grilling a steak. I love big juicy steaks especially those 160z USDA prime rib eyes I used to buy in BJs where a 5 pack cost $35USD. Here in Bangkok a 32 oz will set me back the same price. I also miss cooking up a pot of beef stew.
But as I mentioned elsewhere, residential buildings are not equipped with gas pipes so no gas stoves. And propane tanks no matter what size in general are not allowed in apartments and condos. So I picked up a induction stove top and an oven for baking, both running on electricity.
So you can bet when I get a home in the next few years I’m going to make sure I build up a nice big outdoor kitchen and getting myself one of those really nice Webster grills for cooking up some Flintstones sized steaks.