Food Shopping in Japan Week 7; What We Bought, What We Spent

The “pantry” in our kitchen (one shelf on a table) doesn’t have much room for extras.
Our refrigerator is also quite small. It is currently completely full – I don’t think I could fit a sheet of paper in there.

We are currently trying to stock up some, although as the pictures above indicate, we don’t have a whole lot of extra room to store things. And, we’re only here for around six more weeks, so don’t want to buy more than we can finish. This past weekend we bought some extras at the Hardy Barracks mini-mart, mainly frozen foods and bread. Those items should help keep our regular grocery shopping costs down going forward.

We spent more than intended today at Tokyu though: ¥9,126. Our regular groceries weren’t too bad, but we were there when a few paper goods – toilet paper, tissue, and paper towels – were being put out. We got one of each, including the last small package of toilet paper. We have enough supplies now to last us until we leave. We also found three new special spring flavors of KitKats so had to get those. We spent ¥2,293 at Kaldi Coffee Farm yesterday so our weekly total is ¥11,419/$106, ¥1,419/$13.17 over our weekly budget. We will have to cut back next week, but should be fine because we currently have a LOT of food in the apartment, enough for at least three weeks.

We noticed today that the shelves of instant noodles in Tokyu looked rather picked over and empty. Some of those products come from China and South Korea, so there’s possibly a supply chain issue because of the virus. Otherwise, all food items were well-stocked in the store.

Here’s what we bought his week (apologies for the quality of the photos, but it was rainy and gloomy outside and the inside lighting wasn’t much better):

Dairy: We bought the usual: nonfat milk, nonfat yogurt, half-dozen eggs, and Yakult, which had doubled in price from what we have been paying, ¥398 vs. ¥200. Not sure if that’s because of a supply problem or if we had previously been buying it on sale.

Meat: We bought two packages of ground pork, two packages of firm tofu, and two packages of surumi (imitation crab, or k-rab, as Brett calls it). One package of the pork is for next week, and the tofu is for next week as well. The surumi is for the California roll salad this week. As always, we chose the least expensive packages available.

Produce: We got lots of produce this week: four apples for ¥158/$1.47 each, two kiwi fruit, a head of lettuce for just ¥73/68¢, five bananas, eggplants for mabo nasu, green onions, yellow onions, two avocados (also ¥158 each), and three cucumbers (¥98 for three). Fruit in Japan is always ridiculously expensive.

Prepared foods: Tokyu didn’t have any gyūdon in the prepared food section, so we bought two Korean beef kalbi bowls. For ¥464/$4.29 we bought a small piece of pork cutlet with sesame-soy glaze and four korokke (potato croquettes) for lunch for the two of us today. By the way, I had thought about making the gyūdon from scratch, but the beef cost more than the two bowls we bought, and I would have needed a couple more ingredients as well so decided against that idea.

Pantry items: Just two packages of CookDo this week, for mabo nasu and mabo dofu, which will be on the menu next week. We forgot to get a tube of wasabi paste, so we will have to stop somewhere for that this week (it’s used in the California Roll Salad dressing).

Paper products: About 10 packages of each of these products were being put out while we were there. Brett got the last 4-pack of single-ply “Herb Garden” printed toilet paper, and also grabbed some store-brand tissues and paper towels. The total for the paper products was ¥848/$7.43. The toilet paper alone was ¥268; last week we got a 12-pack of double-ply for ¥398. We also got a package of trash bags.

Miscellaneous: I got two bottles of “16 Tea,” an herbal blend of 16 ingredients (with no caffeine) that I enjoy now and again. We also found three new springtime KitKat flavors: Easter (banana), sakura mochi, and sakura sake. The last two flavors were not cheap (¥348 each) but very unique so we snapped them up. We’re now up to 25 different flavors!

Kaldi Coffee Farm: We bought their last two jars of natural peanut butter, some Boursin pepper cheese and camembert from France (both on sale), and a package of cough drops for Brett. Three days ago they had caseloads of the peanut butter but it was all gone yesterday except for the two jars I found hidden on the back of the shelf behind some other brand. Hmmmmm.

Next week I will have some pictures of some of what’s inside the Tokyu store, but in the meantime, I made sweet and sour pork on Saturday evening using a CookDo sauce and took some pictures to show why I love using CookDo (outside of the fact that it tastes really, really, good):

Even though I can’t read most of the writing, there’s always a clear picture on the front of what the finished product looks like so I can get an idea of the ingredients and what size I need to prep them. Inside the box is a pouch of sauce.

On the back of the box are more clear illustrations indicating how to prepare the dish. Weights (metric) are given for how much of each ingredient is recommended.

The first step is to prep and then stir fry the ingredients. For the sweet and sour, that’s cubed pork, green pepper, carrots, and onion.

After ingredients are cooked how you like them (we like the vegetables crisp-tender versus soft), add the sauce from the pouch and stir about one minute to heat through and coat all the ingredients. That’s all – it’s ready to serve. The total time from start to finish is less than 10 minutes (not counting prepping the ingredients).

Serve the finished recipe over steamed rice.

One package of CookDo makes three servings, so there are leftovers for someone the next day. CookDo is not particularly inexpensive in the U.S., but I bought it occasionally as special treat for our family because the girls love it. The most commonly found varieties in the U.S. are mabo dofu (tofu and ground meat) and mabo nasu (eggplant and ground meat), both in a miso-flavored sauce, but at a Japanese-centric market more varieties are usually available.

10 thoughts on “Food Shopping in Japan Week 7; What We Bought, What We Spent

  1. I have to admit my mouth has been drooling over some of your kit kat finds. In particular those banana cream pie KKs sound delish.

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    1. I can’t wait to try those! We gave our daughter the chocolate banana ones last year and she said they were very, very good so I’m excited about those too. And sakura mochi!! It’s my favorite Japanese sweet, so I’m in heaven about finding those. I will make regular postings about the flavors when we get to eating them!

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  2. Bought a two flavours of KitKats. Not so different as some of your finds. Just strawberry and peach. Will share with some kids and staff at school. Unfortunately I don’t like Japanese green tea nor miso flavour. Unfortunate given the prevalence of these in eating and drinking. Don’t mind Chinese green tea which is quite different from Japanese. (Don’t mind doesn’t equal like.)

    I am home now. Hope to find some time to blog. Amazing place!!!

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    1. You found peach? I haven’t seen that one yet, but it will hopefully be at the airport when we leave.

      I’m looking forward to hearing about your trip!!

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  3. I was wondering about Cook Do sauces and how you use them, so I was thrilled to see you posted photos and instructions! We have a lot of Asian stores around here, but I’ve never noticed these so I’ll have to look more carefully next time I’m there.

    I went grocery shopping today and overheard a manager telling an employee that they have to prepare in case there is a “panic”. That was a bit unnerving. Glad you were able to find toilet paper!

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    1. CookDo is so easy, but delicious too. We have loved every one of them that we’ve tried. Last year we brought lots back with us, but we plan to only bring a few packets this time.

      When I was walking over to our son’s today there were people lined up outside a drugstore, waiting for something. I also saw a news story that people are starting to get panicky because they can’t find toilet paper. Brett thought I was nuts, but I’m so glad we bought that extra 12-pack last week!

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  4. The Cook Do pics are interesting. I can see how you love them, as they are easy (great visual instruction) and apparently taste great! That particular recipe looks wonderful!

    I went to Costco today and picked up more TP, as we have had a rush of company and used more than our normal. Pretty much everyone in line was buying TP, and I wasn’t sure if it was normal shopping or prepping. It’s a good value, but we have challenges storing a full package. We have a real estate photog coming to our house this week, so I’ll be hiding most of my paper products in a closet. Along with a ton of other stuff. Ha!

    So far, we have no cases of coronavirus in Michigan (fingers crossed). I’m sure they’re coming, but for now, the first case tested came back negative. I’m not naive…I’m sure we’re not exempt. But I’m trying not to overbuy for something that doesn’t happen. As a confirmed clean freak, though, I have a solid supply of disinfectants and cleaning supplies. I came across a display in Lowe’s and realized I already all of it. Ha!

    Last spring, we had an Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) alert and all local student activities were cancelled after dark until our first freeze. Football games had to be played before dark, etc. Crazy times.

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    1. The CookDo sweet & sour pork is one of our favorites, but we’ve never had one we didn’t like. They really are easy – I wish they were easier to find, and less expensive in the U.S.

      Someone recommended Home Depot for things like wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. although that secret’s probably out by now and their shelves have been stripped. Things seem to be accelerating in the U.S. and getting worse. Hope your area stays virus-free.

      And, you know things are moving along when they’re doing the “glamour shots” of your house! I hope it all goes quickly and easily for you.

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