OK, as promised, another look at eating in Japan! Last week I went over the selection and prices of some of the food staples that can be found at grocery stores here. This week, we’ll delve into some fun foods.
First and foremost, of course, are…SNACKS. My favorite meal of the day! I tend to eat small meals but snack a lot. I’m trying to learn to minimize the amount of sugary snacks I eat, but it’s a bit difficult, because my sweet tooth is just so…sweet.
Anyway, there is no end to the types of crackers and cookies that you can buy here. These are some of the cookies tucked away in my cupboard right now. YUM.
As in America, it’s the unhealthy snacks that are the cheapest. I suppose sugar and additives are a lot less expensive than real food. I can’t remember how much the strawberry flavored cookies cost – probably around ¥200 or so. I bought the cookies on the left from the ¥100 store, so they cost…you know…¥100.
There are lots of different crackers here! In addition to American-style chips (potato chips, select kinds of Pringles, and a knock-off brand of Bugles), there are chips/crackers with all sorts of flavors that we don’t have in America. Senbei (rice crackers, usually disk-shaped and lightly flavored) are very popular as well. I have some interesting lemon-flavored senbei right now, and some shrimp-flavored crisps (kind of like Cheetos, but…not). I bought them on sale, so each bag was less than ¥100.
One thing that I was happy to see in the stores here is fruit gummies. Not the huge boxes of serving-size packages that they have in the States, just small pouches containing maybe 2-3 servings (depending on how many you eat at a time!). They have a nice variety of flavors, though. They’re normally around ¥100 a pouch, give or take a few yen. The ones below were part of a promotion, so they were on sale for about half that. The writing on the front says “Delicious collagen,” which was one of the ingredients in this brand and which is apparently good for you. I bought three pouches, so I should be all set on my collagen intake for awhile!
And yes: there is chocolate. Not much American chocolate (no sign of a Reese’s anywhere), but lots of Japanese chocolate. And hey, when it comes to chocolate, I’m not picky. It’s about the same price as in America, too; around ¥100 or so for a bar of cheap chocolate (like the “Black Chocolate,” or dark, in the photo below) and ¥200-400 for a bag of individual chocolates. I’ve found some new favorites here, like the Look chocolates in the picture. These are filled with a creamy mousse-type filling of four different flavors: strawberry, banana, caramel, or chocolate. Although this bag contains individually wrapped pieces, the same type of chocolate is also sold in bar form, with a row of each flavor. SO DELICIOUS…
OK, OK, enough with the snacks! We’ll take a look at the next category of grocery items, which is…
There’s lots of variety to be found in this area! Milk is around ¥200 for a liter (no gallon sizes here!), although in my opinion it tastes different than American milk, so I usually add some chocolate powder to mask the flavor. There are different kinds of juice, too; I usually buy a fruit/veggie mix which has added sugars and is not 100% juice, so it tastes pretty sweet. It’s the one standing proud and tall in the photo below:
There are also sodas, although I think the flavors tend to differ from American varieties. Bottled green tea is big here, as green tea seems to be the drink of choice. As far as I know, it’s usually straight-up green tea, without any added sugar. On the other hand, the bottled “lemon tea” and “milk tea,” which are black teas with different flavors, are quite sweet. The milk tea, or “mee-ru-ku tea,” as they call it here, has come to be a favorite of mine.
Last but not least, we come to the final food category: condiments. Luckily, there are some of the same condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.) that we use in the States. In fact, I was surprised to find out how popular mayonnaise is here, and it’s always sold in squeeze bottles. Butter is also available, probably for a price similar to that of American butter. Regrettably, peanut butter is not nearly as popular here as in the U.S. The Skippy brand below is the ONLY kind sold at my local supermarket, and it only comes in that one size. It’s about ¥500.
I was interested to discover that maple syrup is available, albeit in small quantities, and so is honey. Most of the honey I looked at was expensive, but I did find a large jar of honey with added ingredients for about ¥500. Jam is available too, and so are whipped spreads of different flavors.
Not sure if this is technically a condiment, but it’s a seasoning to sprinkle on rice, just like the ones the kindergarteners put on their rice at school (although theirs come in cute single-serving kid-friendly packages). This one is sukiyaki flavor.
One final food item, which probably falls in the snack category but is going to be allowed to hang out awkwardly in the condiments list is…YOGURT. This has always been a favorite of mine, so I buy it no matter what the price, but I do try to keep my eye out for deals. I’ve always eaten sweetened yogurt, but am trying to gradually shift over to unsweetened. The unsweetened yogurt on the left below was around ¥130 for a box containing about four servings. The flavored yogurt cups on the right are normally around ¥160, but I bought them on sale for ¥118! The yogurt flavors here are generally similar to the ones in America – blueberry, strawberry, mixed fruit, etc. – but there is also aloe flavor (the two green cups in the middle are aloe). I actually really love this kind – it has small gel-like chunks, similar in consistency to the inside of a grape, and it’s quite delicious!
Well, that’s the end of the very long food tour. If you have any questions about food or prices here, leave me a comment below. Or come for a visit, and you can try some of these foods for yourself!