I love that chicken from Popeye's. That is what I told my brother in Florida earlier this evening and he was amazed. He didn't know there were Popeye's Louisiana Kitchens in the Philippines. There's not. We make Popeye's Chicken in our home kitchen. I got the original recipe from the internet and I can make Popeye's chicken from all locally sourced ingredients… at local prices. Nothing imported.
I paid P128 for a whole chicken and my wife cut it into pieces at home. I think White King Flour, product of the Philippines, is as good as any imported flour and at a fraction of the cost. McCormick brand herbs and spices are packaged in Quezon City, Philippines. Once again, they are priced for the Filipino wallet and not sold at imported prices. Mother's Best and Mama Sita, also local brands, make an excellent version of Louisiana Hot Sauce. Want to be blindfolded and take the taste test?
I grew up eating the little Krystal Hamburgers. Nowadays, they are known as sliders. There are not any Krystal restaurants in our area of the Philippines but my wife and I make the little sliders all the time. In the southern part of the USA, we had Krystal. Up north, they had White Castle Hamburgers. Also sliders.
Drive A Little And Save A Lot
Bacolod is a mid-sized city and after living here 6 years, I know my way around. My wife and I both know the best places to shop for quality, without spending a small fortune. I know which grocery or specialty store has the best prices on what I want to buy.
Prices on imported food products can vary as much as P100 or more per item from store to store. It pays to check out all the stores, do price checks and then you will know where to shop. By knowing where to shop in the city you live in the Philippines, can save you up to 75% on your grocery shopping. You can believe that.
Imported Versus Local Products
Unlike some foreigners, I rarely buy imported frozen food products. No, I will not spend P1,500 for a box of frozen cod fish or for a package of frozen Tyson Chicken. I am not spending P1,700 for a frozen steak from the USA. I pay P98 for a kilo of cream dory fish fillets, P128 for a 1 kilo whole chicken and P240 for a Monterey brand Porterhouse. I enjoy those very much and I don't have to spend a ton of money when putting together a fabulous meal in the Bacolod area.
My wife shops at several public markets when buying fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits. In my opinion, Pure Gold, SM and Metro Supermarkets all have excellent ground round beef. I use ground round when making many different dishes at home. Burgers, spaghetti, chili, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chili mac, sloppy Joe and any dish calling for excellent quality ground beef.
I don't have to spend hundreds of pesos when making my version of Mexican Cuisine at home. Mega Mexicana in Luzon, Philippines makes excellent quality taco shells, flour tortillas and corn tortillas. At a fraction of the cost of the same imported items. “Si Ortega?” No thanks, I don't have to buy Ortega brand or Old El Paso, either.
I have been buying Ram brand Italian Spaghetti Sauce for the past 6 years. It is now P19 per vacuum sealed package, up from P17. All Ram items are products of the Philippines.
I do not like Ram brand pickle relish but I really enjoy another local product. Green Harvest pickle relish is P60 for the large jar. If you buy Vlasic or Heinz pickle relish, get ready for some bad news. P200 or more per jar.
I buy a number of imported items but it is because the items are not locally produced in the Philippines. Most of the items I buy are items used in preparing the dishes I enjoy. Horseradish, Lea & Perrins, A.1. Steak Sauce, Reese Mint Sauce, Kweichow Garlic Chili Sauce, Morehouse Mustard (the Official Mustard of the LA Dodgers), Heinz Malt Vinegar and similar items. I do not have to buy such items weekly or even monthly because I don't use them all every single day. Some items will last me 6 months or longer.
Canned beans are another imported item I buy regularly. Pinto, white, baked, red kidney, black and black eye peas. I pay P31-P63 per can of beans that I buy.
Money To Burn
I know a few expats in Bacolod who have a large income from several pensions. They don't mind going to the supermarkets and spending P12,000-P15,000 per week. Without cutting corners and buying quality locally sourced products as much as possible, my weekly grocery cost has similar figures. Only I spend P1,200 and not P12,000. I may spend P1,500 but never P15,000 in a supermarket.
Most of my meals are considered Western style. I recently used local large organic potatoes to make Potato Skins. I bought Virginia brand honey cured bacon, Nestle sour cream and Dari-Creme butter. Nothing imported and everything at local prices.
Avocado is P35 per kilo in our area. What about poached eggs over avocado and Century brand Corned Tuna? An avocado BLT with fried egg on good toasted bread is good anytime.
There are a number of Filipino dishes I really enjoy. I eat them regularly but not every meal or even everyday for that matter.
I have you started on the right foot. You don't have to spend most of your retirement income to enjoy most all the dishes in the Philippines that you enjoy back home. If you don't like cooking, it is very affordable to hire a full time cook in the Philippines. Just spend a little time in training them and supervising them, as they prepare the food you enjoy.
Happy shopping and happy eating.