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Realistic grocery budget?

DeBary, Florida
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Realistic grocery budget?

I've heard Costco is the place to go but I still anticipate it will be more expensive then at home. 10 days, three adults and three kids. Plan for probably two meals per day at home. Won't make really elaborate meals but we are on vacation so will be cooking. We currently live in Florida where groceries are medium priced for the US. I would estimate that to be maybe $250 at home. Any guess on a Hawaii grocery budget?

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Calgary, Alberta
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1. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

That one will be tough to answer......as it will also depend on what is included at your condo. Do you have to purchase salt and pepper, oils, and condiments? What about paper goods and detergents too? Coming from Canada, I thought the produce was higher priced than I expected, but almost everything has to be shipped there. I am going to say 25/day for 6 people is quite shy.

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

You posted this in the Pahoa forum. Is that the area you are staying?

There’s no way I can guess your budget, but groceries in Hawai’i fall in the highest of the nation. Where you shop will make a difference. It’s typically more on vacation because you start from scratch with condiments, whereas at home you have sauces and spices and marinades. You might like to bring your favorite spices, as each spice runs 5-10 bucks, depending on the spice and where you buy it.

Denver, Colorado
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3. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

I did a calculation once several years back for the Big Island and using a combination of grocery store, budget dining spots, and splurging several times my food cost was at about $20 per day for just me. Groceries will be somewhat more expensive than the mainland but reasonably affordable.

It's the eating at fancy restaurants every night that will totally blow your food budget (something I don't do at home). Another way of looking at this subject is you have to eat at home anyways so this is really just a cost of living.

Minimize your food cost by avoiding expensive cocktail & liquor prices at restaurants, utilize free B&B breakfasts when offered, dine out frugally, and get a grocery store discount card (usually just takes a reference phone number to start with). Bring one of those soft sided small cooler with you to transport cold food from one accommodation to the other.

If you are staying in or near Pahoa then Malama Market is a good grocery store base for you. Yes if you have special needs don't assume the Big Island will have the food item you are used to.

Edited: 28 October 2017, 02:55
Washington State
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4. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

We just got back from 10 days on the island. We ate every breakfast but one in the condo (mainly fruit, yogurt and coffee), and probably half our other meals. For two adults, we spent about $375 on groceries during this time. Only about $20 of that was alcohol. We had steak, which provided dinner on two nights, and a package of shortribs from Costco which we got about three meals out of. Coffee was about $40, but we brought leftover beans home with us.

As KK said, we did have to buy condiments: mayo, mustard, etc. and that adds up quickly. Remember that Costco is great, but generally everything comes in large quantities, so you may not be able to eat it all in 10 days.

We try hard not to overbuy and usually do okay, but we still end up having to throw out some food at the end, or else leave non-perishable stuff in the condo for the next renters. You can't bring any fruits or vegetables back with you on the plane. The next people to rent our condo had a perfectly ripe papaya waiting for them.

Calgary, Alberta
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5. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

It all depends on what your crew like to eat too. KD is a lot cheaper than healthier foods. Do you eat any differently on vacation than you do at home? We do......I allow my kids one box of junky cereal/vacation. Never at home. I have a glass of wine at dinner on vacation.....at home, no. In Hawaii, we buy more "portable" foods such as granola bars, (and sadly bottled water), because we are out and about so much. (this year we are taking our water carriers)

We went as a group of 6........and I spent about $650 for a week. Now......there were 4 athletic, health conscious teenaged boys (always hungry), bf, and me. We ate out maybe 4 times.....and 3 of those were lunches. It will probably look a lot different for you.....your kids being younger. We are definitely on the highest end of the grocery scale.....but I cannot imagine what it would have cost to feed them all at restaurants breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!

One thing you can do, is make a rough meal plan.......that incorporates similar ingredients so you reduce wastage. Of course.....it will all depend on what is at your condo.....(I am hoping to find a slow cooker in ours for next week)...so your plan has to be rough. Last time, we purchased one small bottle of greek salad dressing.....and that did us for both salads, veggies, and meat marinade for the week.......stuff like that. I am not sure what your rules are for bringing spices......(I have always wondered from Canada if that is allowed), but that would save you a lot if you could bring your favourites. In the meantime.....just ask the management company what is included. Ours this time supplies everything from oils/spices/vinegars to detergents and paper products.

Not sure we are saving money, so much as saving the hastle of having to purchase.

Washington State
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6. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

Sc00t mentions detergents and paper products. I didn't think about that because the condo we were at had stuff like paper towels, TP, dish detergent, laundry detergent, etc. If you have to buy any of those things also, your cost will increase.

Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

The OP is staying at th Palm Villas, not sure why they posted on the Pahoa subforum.

Most of those condos will be well stocked with condiments, spices, paper products, and often even things like rice, tea and coffee. I would check out what’s there before shopping.

I’m not generally a Costco fan but with a party of six and for ten days, it will be your best option for drinks, alcohol, meats, fish, snacks, and many other things. Two meals per day for six people is going to cost you a lot more than $25 per day in groceries though unless you’re really eating on the cheap and avoiding most proteins. I’d say for most people it would run at least $50 per day, not including alcohol.

Maui, Hawaii
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8. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

I agree with Shea. I cook at home, nothing fancy (stews, cheap protein (e.g chicken) and veggies, pasta / sauce etc) keep track of my spending, and on average I spend $30-$35 / day for 2 1/2 people, and I have the benefit of having all the spices, pans, oil, napkins etc. Especially if you want some nicer things like steak, shrimp, seafood etc the price goes up quickly., plus you have almost three times more mouths to feed.

I also agree with the person who said plan your meals. This is a actually what I did when I visited the BI last year with my in laws. Basically just planned every meal, took the spices I needed from home, and bought the rest on the ground. Much less chance of wasting food that way. A few things I didn't use I actually took home as it is only a short flight.

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

Does Costco sell Spam in bulk? It’s relatively inexpensive and you could tell your crew you’re eating like the locals.

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10. Re: Realistic grocery budget?

You’re in Hawaii, on vacation! take your cues from where you are and what you like to do. Don’t cook like you’re at home. It takes experience to figure out what works for you in a new place. Don’t overthink it. Try things. Make picnic food, even when you’re at the condo. It’s warm and lovely outside, that’s where you want to be. And make sure you’re not the only adult doing food prep—one person doesn’t have to do it all. And kids can help too.

Sandwiches with veggies and Costco roasted chicken. Buy plate lunch one day, eat half, and have leftovers the next day. Sushi from the grocery store. Finger food. Nut/trail mixes, the healthy kind. Apple bananas are delicious, and small, perfect kid size. Papaya is fabulous and good for digestion. Grill fish on the bbq, with a grain or potato and veggie. Guacamole and chips, add some protein and that’s a meal. Coffee, granola and fruit in the morning. Or eggs and toast with fruit. Perfect start to the day.,

I love the farmers markets that happen once a week in various locations. Eat a malasada! Look for festivals serving food. Find where the locals eat and shop. And find the restaurants with good casual food for the whole family, and a happy hour.

Yum! Sorry I got off topic from OP’s question. Food is such a pleasure in Hawaii. It’s a cultural experience and a big part of being in Hawaii for me. I barely think of it as an extra cost. Aloha!

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