Thursday, October 17, 2013

What are Food Costs in Costa Rica?

Since I did my last post on some of the food we've had in Costa Rica, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the prices we have paid for food at the grocery stores there. Many people are curious about the actual day-to-day living expenses, and this will help to give a good idea.

I gathered all the receipts I could find from our trip in July 2013, and the table below represents the actual costs we paid. I did convert the prices from the Costa Rican colon to the American dollar for an easier comparison.

We also purchased this lovely box of Choco Zucaritas (chocolate Frosted Flakes), pictured on the right, on our first trip to the grocery store (for the kids, of course!). We weren't paying attention to the price, until we got back to the house and realized we paid a whopping $7.50 for this 18 oz box of cereal--ouch!! The price for a bag of potato chips also almost gave us cardiac arrest. Wish I had the receipt for that one, but I don't, so can't remember how much they were. Once we realized how much we paid for those two items, we didn't buy them again--sorry kids! haha

This chart is just a small sample, but I think you can start to get an idea of why eating like an American will break the bank, while eating like a local will save you a lot of money. Plus I also didn't put on the chart the FREE coconuts we ate and drank. The coconuts came from trees on the property. Most people grow food on their properties, with the most popular probably being bananas, pineapples, and coconuts.

So, if you're willing to forgo the normal American diet of lots of meat, cheese, and processed foods, you will definitely find yourself saving money on your grocery bill. And, as the majority of ex-pats discover, you may also lose a few pounds and feel healthier in the process. In fact, several of our friends living in Costa Rica report coming off their cholesterol and other medications due to their new, healthier eating habits. Awesome!

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Food of Costa Rica--Yummy or No?

When you think of Costa Rican food, what do you think about? Many people don't even really know what kind of food would be considered typical Costa Rican; however, Costa Rica does have a couple of national dishes, and one special condiment. Any ideas?

Yummy Lizano!
When eating out in Costa Rica, if the restaurant caters to the locals, you will always find a bottle of Lizano sauce on the table--kind of like how we have ketchup on the tables in the US. Lizano is used in cooking and also as a condiment. It tastes great on eggs, rice, beans, meat--well, just about everything! It's not a spicy sauce, but instead is more savory, with a hint of sweetness. It's definitely an original Costa Rican invention, and hard to come by in the US. It is so yummy, I always make sure to bring home a few bottles after each trip to Costa Rica!

Yummy Gallo Pinto!
Without Lizano sauce, you would be hard-pressed to make one of Costa Rica's most famous dishes--gallo pinto. Before I knew Lizano was the secret ingredient in gallo pinto, I couldn't figure out why mine just didn't taste right--the Lizano really makes a difference.

Gallo pinto literally means "spotted roster", and the name probably comes from the dish's speckled appearance. Gallo pinto is one of my personal favorites, and in Costa Rica it is usually eaten for breakfast along with eggs, corn tortillas, and maybe some plantains or other fruit, bacon, and/or cheese.

Yummy Chicken Casado (Casado Pollo)!
For lunch or dinner it is typical to have a casado. In Spanish, casado means married, and no one is really sure how this dish got that name, but most think it refers to the "marriage" of the food on the plate. The typical casado consists of rice, beans (usually black), a salad or slaw, and fried bananas or plantains. It may also come with corn tortillas and your choice of meat or seafood. Either way it is delicious, filling, and one of the cheapest ways to eat in Costa Rica. The casado can be found in any local, family-owned restaurant, which is called a "soda".

To get a really good feel for the food available in Costa Rica, I've put together the following video for you. It highlights some of the meals we've had while there. It covers food from the local sodas and some from more upscale restaurants as well. I bet your mouth will be watering by the time you're done!

As always, if you're interested in more information about Costa Rica, check out our Costa Rica website or request your free DVD! And don't forget you can join us in Costa Rica this December and try some of this wonderful food yourself: click here for more details!