Romanian Shopping Basket: This Is What $85 Bought

When we talked about the cost of living in Romania, I told you that everything here is extremely cheap. Of course, just as it happens in any other country, we have expensive products and cheap products.

Until now, I rarely cared to make a difference between the two and purchased whatever I wanted (IF I had the money, of course). Starting with Romania Experience and my new way to approach life, I have decided to change things a little bit and think about saving when going to the supermarket.

I am not sure that I have fully managed that, but I sure tried and I am pretty satisfied with my shopping basket today in terms of quantity vs price vs (hopefully) quality. And since images do better than words, here is my shopping basket aka what I spent my money on (and how much it cost me):


All the products that you can see in the images above here were only $85 and we did stock up on some things. These are the things that we bought for just $85:

Large loaf of bread, 2 types of biscuits, 2 small ice creams and one large, 1kg of frozen potatoes for frying, 1 box of paper tissues, 1 set of multivitamins, 3 different types of pastries for baking, 600 grams of fish fillet (frozen), 500 grams of fresh garlic, two bottles of sunflower oil (2 liters in total), 1 coffee (decaf), 1 cabbage, a bunch of radishes, 2 cans of non-alcoholic beer, 1 liter of milk, 2 bottles of yogurt, 1 pack of spaghetti, 1 box of double cream white cheese (similar to Feta), one large roll of cheese, some cold cuts and duck liver pate, a bag of biscuits for Tiramisu, 1 pond of pork meat and 600 grams of pork meat for the oven.

Now that’s a long list for $85!

Here are my thoughts on how I managed to keep this at a relatively low price and still buy a ton of stuff:

1. I went for local brands. Imported products are usually more expensive than local ones and therefore I go for locally produced items. This way, you also support your local economy, so it’s a win-win situation.

2. I went for the supermarket’s brand. This time I shopped at the Cora hypermarket and for my bacon and salami I opted for their own brand. It’s not just cheaper (for example, the Mousse de Canard, was about $25 cheaper per kilo than brand products!) but also really tasty.

So there’s no need to pay extra for the same thing just to get the brand name. There are times when the brand also offers better quality, but always test before deciding what the smartest move is.

3. I had a shopping list. Even though I didn’t stick to just the products there (there was no ice cream and cookies on it), it helped me keep focused. I rarely went to the store with a shopping list and the result was a disaster for my wallet.

4. I planned for the future. This is a pretty easy one and everybody does it: buy as much as you can to cover as many days as possible, without risking the food to spoil. This way you save money in terms of gas spent on your trip to the supermarket, time you spend shopping and, of course, the actual value of the goods that you don’t have to throw away.

5. I had to resist temptation. This is the hardest part and I didn’t manage to do it completely, but at least I have resisted temptation and did not buy all those tasty, yummy, shiny things that all the supermarkets are throwing at you. These are usually expensive AND unhealthy. In order to make it easier, I am never going shopping on an empty stomach. Try it!

Am I 100% satisfied with my shopping basket? FAR FROM IT!

First of all, I am trying to switch to eating a bit healthier and a quick look at the photos proves me that I am still far away from that. However, with wifey being pregnant, there are things we must buy. She simply craves the pastries so we had to stock up on those (and I’ll eat with her because I can’t help it).

Also, we have way too many sausages and salami and processed, unhealthy foods like those so, even though they came at a pretty low price, they are not healthy. However, it’s so easy to drop a slice on your bread and have the breakfast ready that I will still fight a lot with my own self to stop consuming these unhealthy products…

At least we have a peasant’s market nearby and we have daily access to fresh vegetables and fruit which are sometimes cheaper that supermarket vegetables and fruit. But at least they are fresh and hopefully healthier.

So… what do you think about this shopping basket? Is $85 for all the products bought a lot where you come from?

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13 thoughts on “Romanian Shopping Basket: This Is What $85 Bought”

  1. I used to Love shopping at Piata. (Farmers Market) here in US, it is sometimes more expensive to buy from Farmers Market than to buy from stores. But I love the atmosphere and the freshness of products.

    • In Romania something similar is starting to happen, with hypermarkets offering lower prices… but if you want real food, you have to go for farmers markets đŸ™‚

  2. Hi C:
    I couldn’t believe it. Your date for this blog is the day I left to come over to Bucuresti. I arrived on the 14th May. WOW, hasn’t the time flown. I wish I was back there for good.

  3. Just me again. Yep, I went to some of the Hypermarkets CORA and REAL (now AUCHAN),and found the prices cheap compared to Australia. Even the brands I see here that are there, there is a substantial difference in pricing. I realise the cost of living is different there, and I have seen the extremes of those metrics first hand. It still wouldn’t deter me from coming back.

  4. Hi again C:
    Going by what you got there in the shopping basket, I can see some treats there, that you would most probably wouldn’t buy every week, like the ice creams, beer, etc. So that weekly bill could come down a bit more.
    When living there, there were good weeks and bad weeks, for the shopping. Some weeks, you had ample to eat and drink, and there were others, where it was very hard indeed to eat. But, the family I stayed with, made do with what they had. No one went hungry. I admired their strength in these bad weeks, and will never forget that.

      • Thanks for your reply C. I really admire the family I stayed with. They ask me when I am coming back. They treated me like I was one of the family. I miss them a lot, and they miss me too. I wish I could be there with them now.

  5. I lived in Romania for 2 years as a missionary and seeing your groceries made me so jealous. I actually think there’s greater variety at a place like Carrefour than its American equivalent. I would kill for some telemea, fresh bread, Viva snacks, and Joe ice cream cones (in that order). Pro tip: store your Viva snacks in the freezer and put them in a bowl with some milk for some awesome breakfast cereal. Romania is, however, incredibly lacking in the Mexican food department. Which is understandable.

    Congratulations on your new apartment – is it in Craiova? I lived in an apartment above a similar-looking cemetery there. Cemeteries in Romania seem to take up prime real estate.

    Your English is flawless, by the way.

    • Hello, Eric! I prefer the Top Gun ice cream cones, but I agree with everything else you’ve said. The apartment is not in Craiova, it’s in a city that’s a two hours drive away – Drobeta Turnu Severin. Probably most cemeteries here in Romania look the same đŸ™‚


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