Food Shopping in Japan Week 3: What We Bought, What We Spent

This was a very different week for our food shopping budget because this past Saturday we went out to the commissary at the Atsugi base and bought a LOT of stuff there.

Atsugi is the closest large military facility, but it took a long time to get there due to traffic issues (coming back was much easier, thank goodness), and we were all more than a little tired when we arrived. We stopped first at the exchange, where Brett and I bought an inexpensive Crock Pot ($19.99), some measuring cups, a set of measuring spoons, two bed pillows, a package of pillowcases, and a bottle of body lotion. We got lucky when we checked out and won a 15% off everything coupon, a very nice surprise.

We got all this plus three 12-packs of Diet Coke at the commissary for $193.63. The hard part was finding room to put it all away!

After shopping at the exchange, we stopped for lunch in the food court (Brett and I shared a Subway tuna sandwich), and then it was time to hit the commissary. As we discovered last year, the commissary is now about three times larger than it was when we were stationed at Atsugi (1989-1992), with a selection about three to four times larger as well. We took our time going through the store and filling up our cart. Our total at the commissary was $193.63, and along with our exchange purchases and lunch, we spent a total of $253.50. We brought $400 with us, so left with $146.50 still in our wallets.

Because of our commissary shop, we didn’t need as much from Seiyu this week, mostly just produce and dairy, along with a few other things. We spent ¥4929 ($45.43) out of our weekly ¥10,000 allotment and put ¥5,000 back into the envelope.

Dairy: We bought another liter of low-fat milk, 2 containers of yogurt (still just ¥99 each), 15 Yakult, a half dozen eggs, and we splurged on some New Zealand salted butter (¥498/$4.59). The eggs are called “red eggs” because the yolk is so deep orange it’s nearly red.

Produce: This week we got 2 ripe avocados (small, but just ¥87/80¢), one tomato, a head of lettuce, broccoli, 2 cucumbers, and 4 bananas. The cucumbers had gone up in price this week to ¥87/80¢ each also. We’re planning to use the tomato and lettuce for lunchtime BLTs later this week, and the avocados will be for avocado toast for breakfast some morning. I can’t remember the last time I saw an avocado for under $1 in the U.S. and was surprised by the price here as they’re definitely imported. We didn’t buy any strawberries or apples as we still have some from last week.

Pantry: We bought just a couple of things in this area: 3 packages of CookDo (mabo dofu, pepper & pork stir fry, and sweet & sour pork, still on sale for ¥155 each) and two fancy instant udon packages (¥178/$1.64 each). Brett chose tempura shrimp noodles and I got kitsune (fox) udon, so-called because foxes supposedly like the fried tofu (aburaage) on top. They’ll be good for lunch one day.

Paper goods: One 12-pack of “Ariel” 2-ply toilet paper was ¥398 ($3.67), a bargain compared to what it costs in the U.S.

Miscellaneous: Seiyu had bags of KitKats on sale for ¥198/$1.83 per package! They didn’t have a big selection, but we found three flavors we didn’t already have: matcha, dark chocolate, and yuzu green tea (yuzu is a kind of citrus fruit), a new flavor for us. I also got a few take-out items from the prepared food section for my lunch: a pickled plum onigiri (rice ball), steamed kabocha squash, and coleslaw. The three items cost ¥386/$3.56.

We didn’t buy any meat this week which is one reason our total was low, and there were a few other items we decided we could go without. I forgot to get Pam at the commissary on Saturday though and was hoping I could find a similar product at Seiyu, but no such luck. We are now two KitKat flavors short of reaching our goal!


12 thoughts on “Food Shopping in Japan Week 3: What We Bought, What We Spent

    1. I rarely buy KitKats in the U.S. too, but love all the flavors available only here in Japan – they’re a big thing here, and it’s fun to search for different flavors. The only flavor we won’t try here are the regular chocolate ones – boring!


  1. We live in California and are blessed with a great selection of produce. Our neighborhood Walmart carries small avocados for $0.50 ea fairly often.


    1. I never bought avocados when I lived in California, either as a child or later, because we either had an avocado tree or we knew someone who did. In Oregon, Hawaii, or other places I’ve lived though we’ve had to pay for them, and they were always over $1 (sometimes friends gave them to us in Hawaii if they had a tree). I really thought they’d be more expensive here because they are imported.


  2. I think you guys have it down to a science!! Oh, had follow up with surgeon yesterday. Right hip gets done April 17. He was happy with my progress. He pointed out the stem of my hip that he designed! I thought that was pretty cool.


    1. We’re getting there Joy!

      Happy news about your hip – so glad to hear you’re on the mend. April will be here before you know it, and by summer you’ll be back at everything full strength!


    1. Yes! The tacos were for me, and our grandson likes pancakes – Brett can make them now when he comes for a sleepover. With a slow cooker and an oven this time, we were able to buy things we couldn’t before. We love Japanese food, but it’s nice to have some familiar things once in a while.


  3. Red eggs!! They’d make colourful fried eggs. Who or what is Pam?

    I wonder who tested the different noodle dishes on foxes to find what they prefer.


    1. They are colorful! The yolk is a very, very, very deep orange – we’re so used to the pale yellow ones so these are a nice difference.

      Pam is a vegetable non-stick spray. It’s very convenient, and doesn’t add calories, but I know how to do without it.

      Foxes are mythical creatures in Japan – there are shrines around dedicated to them. They tend to slip in and out places, disappear and appear at will, or take the guise of humans from time to time. I’m guessing someone’s aburaage went missing a few times and they blamed it on a fox . . . and a legend was born. Little bits of tempura batter are sometimes sprinkled on noodles – that’s the favorite of the tanuki, the dog badger. How they came up with that one is anyone’s guess.

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  4. Intrigued by the red eggs. Are they higher in omega-3 oils or cholesterol? Or just some genetic thing? So interesting. I eat a fair number of eggs and the omega-3 enhanced eggs definitely have a darker yolk. Here in the Midwest, I can’t think of the last time I saw an avocado under $1. Generally when they’re in season and plentiful, we might get them for $1 but they need to be eaten that day! 🙂


    1. I sure hope there are higher omega-3 oils or something because I honestly know nothing about the red eggs. Everything on the package other than the words “red” and “eggs” is in Japanese I can’t read. Honestly, they could be called that because the label is red. All I know is that the yolks are really, really dark orange-red. (Brett picks out the eggs when we shop and I have no idea why he chose these ones – he reads even less Japanese than I do). But now I’m curious and am going to ask our son tonight if there’s anything special about them!

      These avocados were fairly small, and I was only expecting to buy one, but when I saw they were less than $1 I grabbed two. The two I picked were perfectly ripe, too. I hope they have them again next week – I’d love to get some more (we’re big fans of avocado toast).


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