Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grocery Shopping in Singapore

Grocery shopping in Singapore is kind of inconvenient. I used to really like grocery shopping (especially when we lived in LA and had no money, because it was the only time I got to buy stuff. Buying canned beans, so exciting!). In San Francisco after little R was born, I still liked going to Trader Joe's and Safeway for all my various goodies, even though hauling a baby along made it somewhat more complicated.

Now, we don't have a car. This means all shopping has to be hauled by hand (it's a 15-20 minute walk one way to the nearest grocery store); I could take a taxi, but having to unload and load all my groceries as the driver waits, plus having to wait for the cab to arrive, make this a silly option for such a short distance.

I usually therefore take little R in the stroller (as carrying her plus a lot of groceries is too heavy). The benefit of this is that I can transport the groceries in the stroller; the downside is the stroller doesn't fit a ton of groceries, so I have to shop at least once a week (usually more like twice). Most people here seem to shop more frequently than Americans: it's pretty rare to see someone buying more than a large basket full of food.

I also have to go to at least two different grocery stores. Our main supermarket (Sheng Siong) is fairly reasonably priced, so I buy most of our groceries there (vegetables, meat, condiments, etc.). However, many products we want (like edible bread, high quality pasta and olive oil, Cheerios, cheese) aren't available there; to get those, I go to the expat-focused Cold Storage. Their selection (and displays) are a lot better, but many items cost twice as much as at Sheng Siong, so shopping there exclusively is not a good idea. Sometimes I also buy fresh produce at the local wet market (many small stands selling fruit, vegetables, fish and meat), because it's usually cheaper and fresher there, making three stops.

Unfortunately, whenever I go shopping little R has to accompany me. This means I can only shop during certain hours (9:30-11 or 2-3:30) and cannot stay very long. Her tolerance for shopping is small and usually only extends to one store. Therefore, to do a full shop takes all day (one store in the morning, one in the afternoon, and there is all my out-of-house time gone). Additionally, I must always bring the stroller, which is highly inconvenient due to the comparatively small aisles in stores here (shopping carts just barely fit, and two carts can't really pass each other).

I have experimented with getting food delivered (you order it online and then they bring it to your house), which worked well; however, the selection is not very good. So even if I get food delivered, I would still need to go to the grocery store.

Grocery shopping here is thus an all-day ordeal, involving about an hour of walking in the tropical heat while toting a fussy baby. Whenever I do it, it makes me nostalgic for the ease of American grocery shopping, with a car, lots of parking, big aisles, and stores that stock everything one could possibly want, at rock bottom prices.


  1. I can't imagine. We're so spoiled here and somehow I manage to complain that I have to load the baby into the car seat and then into the cart to do my grocery shopping.

  2. I should preface by saying that Ginny loves her stroller - but I am kind of jealous. I too walk to the store several times a week, but I only have one store within walking distance. They have such a limited selection of "fresh" produce, it's pretty slim pickings. I know it can be tough to go any where with a grumpy baby, but I wish I could walk to a market. I've been walking to the store several times a week since Ginny was born, and she really likes the stroller - some times I go just to get her to take a nap in the stroller! lol.

  3. I do love the fact that Singapore is relatively pedestrian-friendly. We have two supermarkets, a hawker center, a mall, a row of restaurants, and a local market within walking distance, which is pretty typical.

    The car-centeredness of everything is one of my least favorite things about the US.