It is essential to pay one of the many Grocery stores in Peru a visit if you want to experience life like a local or if you are looking to travel on a budget by cooking at home. While everyone knows that eating out during travel or a vacation can add up, not many people talk about grocery shopping on the go. Whether you are visiting Peru for Machu Picchu or plan to hang around the beautiful country a lot longer, grocery stores in Peru will save you a ton of money while allowing you to enjoy local culture and cuisine.
5 Things To Know About Grocery Stores In Peru
#1: They are rarely referred to as “grocery stores”
Locals rarely refer to Peruvian grocery stores as “grocery stores.” They are more likely to use the term market or “supermercado” which is Spanish for “supermarket” or simply refer to them as markets. Many people in Peru are not bilingual so asking where the grocery store is in English may be the cause for confusion. Instead, memorize the phrase “dónde esta el supermercado” or bust out Google Translate, one of our favorite travel apps.
#2: Many Peruvian grocery stores are really large and fancy
Compared to the puny grocery stores in Europe, some grocery stores in Peru are really nice, especially in larger cities. We aren’t sure what we expected, but after traveling Europe, we wrongly assumed everything would be tiny with a small selection. While this is true in smaller towns, the larger cities in Peru have quite large grocery stores that rival Publix, Safeway, Kroger, and other popular grocery stores from North America. Even smaller cities such as Ica had a massive grocery store that reminded us of Walmart.
#3: Grocery stores in Peru sell condiments and sauces in bags instead of jars
Glass jars or plastic containers of sauce or condiments are simply nonexistent or very difficult to find in Peru. From the largest grocery store to the tiniest food shop, everything is sold in bags. Need tomato sauce for pasta? Choose which size bag you need! Looking for mustard, mayo, or ketchup? All sold in little packets! This was interesting because as far as sauce goes, you were unable to see what the product looked like that you were getting since the baggies were opaque. Selections of any type of condiment listed above were very limited because as you can imagine, they are not typical staples of Peruvian or Latin American cooking! This is especially helpful if you are backpacking South America because you can toss the baggies in your luggage and move on!
#4: You are allowed to choose as many eggs as you want to purchase
Eggs are used in a lot of Peruvian dishes! As a result, grocery stores in Peru simply have huge sections of eggs and bags so you can choose as many or as few eggs as you want to purchase. This was fantastic because the worst thing possible is wanting to make a healthy meal or two while traveling, but then having to buy a dozen eggs and waste the rest when it is time to move on. Instead, simply pick up as many eggs as you think you will use from a Peruvian supermarket and there will be no waste! If you only need two, you aren’t forced to buy an entire dozen. This is a great money saving technique that also reduces food waste.
#5: Fresh fruits and vegetables will either be abundant or nonexistent
Many grocery stores in Peru have a stunning selection of fruit and vegetables. Many other Peruvian grocery stores have a simply sad selection of a few bruised apples and rotting carrots. We really didn’t see an in-between! All of the larger Peruvian supermarkets had a great selection, and some smaller stores did as well, but many had next to nothing.
We assume that locals may get their fresh fruits from fruit stands or another type of local market, but these are very difficult for travelers to find, especially if they aren’t staying in a town for a long time. Google Maps navigated us to local grocery stores that didn’t have many fruits or veggies, and locals didn’t have anywhere else to suggest for shopping in many towns. If you arrive at a grocery store in Peru with a limited selection, understand that slightly bruised apples aren’t going to kill you and are probably free from many of the pesticides used in North America and therefore are most likely better for you!
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