If you’ve shopped for food in Hawaii, you know it’s easy to blow the budget if you’re not careful. How do locals shop? Here are some Hawaii tips that can leave more green in your pocket for excursions and other Hawaii activities
- Browse the Internet for weekly deals. Have a shopping list before you leave home then search on-line for weekly specials at grocery stores in Hawaii. Try Safeway, Times Market, KTA and Foodland for starters. Don’t expect pricing comparable to the mainland. The food here just got off one or more boats spending over a week at sea.
- Hawaii big box stores -- pros and cons. Costco, Walmart, and Sam’s Club can easily double or triple your food bill with their selections. Sometimes just having a grocery list can help keep you on track. These stores are fine-tuned for visitors, who easily account for about 1/3 of their Hawaii sales.
- Grocery store loyalty cards. Save up to 50% when you have a Safeway card or Foodland Maika`i card (free for visitors).
- Farmers markets and roadside stands.Popular with locals and visitors. Many times these can offer better deals. I recently bought 25 pounds of rambutan off a truck parked along the road. Total cost was $20, or $.80 per pound. The same rambutan (probably from the same farm) were being sold at Costco for $5 per pound.
- Clearance items. Check for clearance items in the store. These are a bigger deal in Hawaii than on the mainland, since shipping and delays often result in damage of various kinds. Check the produce area for any markdowns. Many stores have specials at the end of aisles. If in doubt, just ask where to find.
- Don’t shop when you are hungry. This seems obvious. We all know that when we shop hungry, we end up buying things that we would never buy otherwise. It is funny, but so true, and on vacation, perhaps more so.
- Prepare for substitution. Here in Hawaii it is often essential simply due to lack of availability. Mainland shoppers are used to going to the store and finding exactly the product they have in mind. But when you find that leeks cost $5/lb, you might want to just consider onions at one-fifth the price. You can seriously control your grocery bill if you follow this tip in Hawaii.
- Avoid bottled water. What you get out of the tap in Hawaii is better than what’s in the plastic bottle. Check out our thoughts on this.