Buying Groceries in Ukraine
That quote pretty much sums up why the first thing I like to do in a new place is take a trip to the local grocery store. For the most part everything is the same (other than the language on the packaging and signage) but a few things are slightly different. It's in those little differences and quirks that you can begin to see the culture of the place you're visiting.
Wandering through the store and picking up a few snacks to have on hand is a fun combination of guessing game and scavenger hunt. Something as basic as getting groceries becomes new and exciting as soon as you can't read the labels on anything. I have actually become so good at guessing what foods are based entirely on the pictures on the packaging that I'm considering adding it to my resume.
I thought it might be useful to do a series of posts about what it's like to shop in various countries and the prices for some things we normally buy. Keep in mind that we usually make a meal or two a day when traveling and have two small children - our grocery list tends to reflect that.
Shopping in Ukraine requires a little more guessing at labels than other places in Europe might simply because the writing on the packages and signs is all in Cyrillic so you can't even pretend to sound it out.
Another thing that could potentially be confusing, particularly for American travelers is the how the produce section works. Each produce bin is marked with the name of the item and a bin number. What you need to do is put whatever you want in to a bag then take it to the nearest scale, on the scale you’ll enter the bin number and it will print a sticker to put on your bag with the total price and a barcode to be scanned at checkout. The same works for the bulk bins of crackers, cookies, teas, frozen foods, etc. in fact I’ve never seen so many bulk options anywhere else. It's actually kind of brilliant, especially the frozen veggies.
On to the groceries, here are some prices you can expect for common items (Updated May 2018)
It might be helpful to keep in mind that at the time this was written the exchange rate was 26 UAH (Ukrainian Hryvnia) to 1 USD and for my US friends, 1 Kg is 2.3lbs.
- 10 Eggs - 33 UAH
- 1 Liter Milk - 29 UAH
- 1 Package Sliced Salami - 39 UAH
- 4 Single Serve Yogurt - 36 UAH
- 500g Wheel of Brie - 76 UAH
- 125g Butter - 45 UAH
- 3 Large Chicken Breast - 72 UAH
- 1 Loaf Sandwich Bread - 16 UAH
- 1 kg Flour - 15 UAH
- 1 kg Sugar - 9 UAH
- 1 kg Bananas - 37 UAH
- 34 Diapers - 136 UAH
- 1 Snickers Bar - 12 UAH
- 1.5 L Bottle of Water - 12 UAH
Similar to the rest of the city you'll also be able to get your coffee fix in no fewer than 4 spots within the store (seriously though...who is drinking all of this coffee?!). If you want a good laugh check out the sizes available for juice boxes.
The store we shopped at most was a supermarket in our neighborhood (Podil) called Rozetka. There are also a number of small fruit stands near the Spaska Street Tram station and sprinted randomly throughout the city.