Food Shopping in Japan Week 4: What We Bought, What We Spent

This was our last food shopping trip during our first four weeks in Japan. Next week we will be restocking our yen envelopes once again for the coming four weeks.

How did we do over the past four weeks? Out of our initial ¥40,000 ($365), we still have ¥8500 ($77.50). It will be rolled over into next month. Out of the $400 we brought with us for commissary shopping, we have $146.50 left. It’s doubtful we’ll need to go to the commissary again, but if we do Brett and I will take the train out to Atsugi and make a day of it.

This week we spent ¥7,418 ($67.60) at Seiyu, more than last week but less than expected since we bought meat again this week, more fruit than we did last week, and two bottles of wine as well.

Here are this week’s purchases:

Dairy: Along with milk (¥148/$1.35 or $5.12 per gallon!), yogurt (still ¥99), and Yakult we bought a package of cream cheese (¥348/$3.17) to enjoy with the bagels our DIL brought us this past weekend. I love the package design for the cream cheese – the English words seem almost a quaint design afterthought among all the Japanese.

Meat: We needed two packages of meat this week for the two CookDo stirfries we’re having. I chose the ground pork and beef mix because it was less expensive than pure ground pork. I will not get it again though as it had too much fat. The two packages cost ¥519/$4.73. Although it’s not meat, the tofu is protein so I’ve also included it in this group. It cost a whopping ¥46/42¢! Brett and I think at this price we should be eating more tofu (soft tofu was only ¥37 or 34¢).

Produce: We bought green peppers for (always so small!), a red pepper and a yellow pepper for ¥127/$1.16 each, 3 cucumbers, a bag of Fuji apples (six for ¥577/$5.26), four bananas (just ¥89/81¢), and two packages of strawberries (still ¥377). The strawberries are getting better and better as the season progresses.

Prepared foods: The two katsudon (¥398/$3.63 each) were purchased for our dinner on Monday evening, and Brett and I shared the 6-pack of inari zushi and the potato salad for Monday’s lunch.

Miscellaneous: We bought two bottles of French wine: Cabernet Sauvignon for Brett (¥780/$7.11), Chardonnay for me (¥898/$8.18).

Paper products: Paper towels were needed this week so we picked up this four-pack (¥298/$2.72) which should get us through the rest of our stay. Japanese paper towels are less sturdy than American ones, and yet not so flimsy as to be unusable (which is what we have found in other countries).

We found another new flavor of KitKats at Seiyu again this week – ‘strong’ matcha, whatever that means – but decided to get it next week.

We’re thrilled to have spent below our weekly allotment these past four weeks – it shows that if we’re careful we can live and eat well here!


6 thoughts on “Food Shopping in Japan Week 4: What We Bought, What We Spent

  1. Well Done on the shopping!

    Hope this finds you both well and the weather not terribly cold.

    Weather in our area has been variable. Daffodils bloomed in January in time for a frost in February. Lots of Spring flowering bulbs appear to plan an early entrance like the daffodils. Also Spring flowering trees and shrubs have already come and gone. The bees, however, know this is not the time to do their work. This is the second year for early, early bloomers. Generally late February to March has been the norm. I know variations are normal and another year or two may show the trend! At this rate Buffalo NY (as they have touted themselves for the future) may be a temperate zone and soon!
    Looking forward to your next post.


    1. The weather here has been so strange, cold one day but then not so bad the next, then windy and freezing, etc. Rain is expected this week but I can see blue skies and the sun shining outside so who knows? It was a shock to see cherry blossoms almost ready to bloom on those trees at the shrine we visited last week because most cherry trees are weeks away from blooming. Just a weird year, but most likely more signs of climate change.

      I will probably not post our groceries next week as I think we’ve got this nailed. I was very afraid before we came that food would be the one area where we would have trouble controlling our spending, so the lower amounts have been a pleasant surprise. No splurges yet though – we are still planning for a full day in Kamakura in early April, and a day trip up to Nikko, if possible, so are watching our pennies closely as both will be expensive.


  2. Hi Laura

    I really enjoy reading what you spend on groceries. Probably even more enjoyable to me is the visuals as it’s so different from our shopping here in the US.

    However I do have a couple of questions unrelated to your food posts, they are Hawaii related. We have decided to move to Honolulu and I wonder if based on your experience of your move to Kauai whether (1) did you ever regret shipping your car? Everything I read says not to ship, however our Honda is only 3 years old and done 20k miles so I doubt if we could do better on island. (2) Same with shipping personal effects. Do you regret moving your things and I was wondering which company you used to move and where you happy with their services. Once again everything says don’t ship but given the quality of our mattresses etc I doubt if we would save anything by not moving these things.


    1. Thanks, Vicky. As I said in the previous reply, I’m thinking of cutting back on the shopping posts as I think we’ve got this pretty much figured out, and most shopping trips going forward will be repetitive. If we do anything special or different though I’ll post about it. One of the biggest changes from last year is that we are not buying snacks this year – we regularly spent over 10,000 yen, but apparently a BIG chunk of that was snacks (crackers, cookies, KitKats, etc.).

      Re. the car – your Honda sounds like a good candidate for shipping, pretty similar to ours that we shipped over. I don’t think you will do better on the island. We didn’t regret bringing any of the things we brought over, but as I have said, we greatly downsized before we moved and only shipped 4,500 pounds, which filled less than half of a 20-foot container. We only bought five pieces of furniture while we were there, none of them: a nightstand and a desk for the girls, a small bookshelf, a chair for the living room, and a stainless steel worktable for the kitchen. Four of the five pieces came from Amazon, and the other we picked up at a discount store in Kapaa. I think starting small is the way to go – we found once we were there that we really didn’t need very much stuff. Again, if it’s a quality piece that works for you, my advice is to ship it. We used Royal Hawaiian both coming and going and I cannot say enough good things about them. They cost a little more, but you really do get what you pay for with them.


      1. Thank you so much for that info. I doubt if we would even have 4,500 pounds as we would not move some of our older more tired bits and pieces and there are only the two of us so we don’t have too much stuff. So pleased to hear you were impressed with Royal Hawaiian as I had found their website but on Yelp there were widely varying reports of satisfaction or the opposite. And I’m always happy to pay a bit more for quality as our last move was so poorly executed by the moving company that we felt violated afterwards.


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