I remember reading different blogs and looking at photos of Cuenca's mercados when Bo and I were planning to relocate here. It was one of the first things I looked forward to doing once we landed - finally, going fresh produce shopping at the various Mercados. Here we are, 3-1/2 months later, still loving our almost daily shopping trips to the wonderful colorful and abundant markets in El Centro, and also shopping from the street vendors along the way. We have our favorite vendors now whom we know by name, and we get lots of special treatment and favor. You can see in the photo that the pineapple is perfectly peeled because one of our favorite vendors takes care of us.
Here's a breakdown of what this produce cost us which should last us several days:
1 Pineapple (sweet & juicy) $1.25
2 Mangos (huge & meaty) 1.00
7 Carrots (sweet & Fat) .50
Peas (shelled, bagged) 1.00
7 Tomatoes (huge) 1.00
5 Avocados (delicious) 1.00
7 Beets .50
4 cucumbers 1.00
Garlic (peeled cloves) .50
4 Plantains (ripe) 1.00
Chard (large bunch) .50
Parsley (large bunch) .25
Cauliflower (large head) 1.00
Broccoli (large head) 1.00
11 Peppers .50
Our Ecuadorian families tell us how much more we can get for our money if we would go to Feria Libre (some think we are getting gouged). Soon, we will trek out there for a shopping trip with our friends who will show us the best vendors to buy from (we've been there but not to actually shop). We will do a price comparison to see if it's worth it to save a few dollars. However, for the convenience of being able to walk four to eight blocks to the markets from our apartment, and because it's only the two of us and produce here is fresh and organic and spoils if not eaten quickly, we don't know if it's going to be worth the long trek to Feria Libre and back. We'll see. For now, we enjoy knowing our vendors and feel we are getting a lot for our money. It's also rewarding to frequent and bless our favorite vendors.
It's the 16th of March, and so far we've spent a total of $121 of our $289 food budget in groceries, household, wine, produce and protein (poultry, beef, seafood and shrimp). We've had several dinners at our home with friends. We cook most of our meals and eat in more than we eat out. Our food/household bill for just the two of us back in the USA was between $600 and $800 dollars. We purchased organic meats and produce (so spendy there) and the cost of groceries and household items was so much more. Here, we eat even healthier (we do not buy prepackaged or canned foods) and spend less because we only buy what we need as we run out of that item. Living in the heart of the city prevents us from having to stock up on items because we can walk out our door and find a tienda close by to pick up what we're out of. This, I love about living in El Centro.
We recently attended a party where an ex-pat couple shared with us that their monthly grocery bill runs $700 to $800. It's just the two of them, but they say they entertain a lot and shop mostly at SuperMaxi. They also expressed that their monthly living expenses were in the ball park of $3,000 or more a month. I share this because it will become a personal budget for each and everyone coming to live in Cuenca. No one can say how much it is going to cost another person for groceries, housing, transportation, medical, etc. We, ourselves, can live here on less than $1,300 a month because we are purposing to live frugally. It is our desire to eat healthier, live a simpler less costly lifestyle as we continue to learn about and explore this area and culture to see if it truly is where we want to plant ourselves for a long-term commitment. Remember, we did not previously visit Cuenca to know what to expect. We just packed our bags and came!
We continue to document our daily spending, to shop daily at the local markets (Yes, we buy our meat and seafood at the open markets, and yes we're still alive and well), and to purpose to stay within our monthly budget. My really fun frugal shopping trip today landed me in a second-hand store (and I read there weren't any to speak of here!!!) where I found 5 pair of fabulous practically new designer jeans, perfect fit (I've lost 10 lbs of ugly fat since being here - woohoo) for guess how much? $28, really? YES REALLY!!!
I told you Cuenca has everything one could possibly need! Even a thrift store!!
I'm happy and I love Cuenca city life more each day.
|Bo's Beef Bone Broth simmers on our stove daily - and this is one of Bo's bone broth soups - with beef, potatoes, and fresh chard. WE LOVE CREATING DELICIOUS SOUPS!|