Grocery Shopping in Chile: What You Need to Know

Whenever I travel abroad, I can’t help but notice all of the small differences between the good ole USA and wherever I am.  When I live abroad, those differences can take some getting used to.  Here are some of the things I have noticed about Chilean supermarkets.

*Supermarkets are tightly packed with people at all times of the day…. like always…. so you may need to plan to spend a little extra time there.
*You can find Great Value products at the Lider supermarkets here.  Lider is a supermarket chain owned by Walmart. So if you feel homesick, you can grab a Great Value frozen pizza and feel like you’re back home. 😉
*Eggs and milk are not refrigerated, but do not fear!  Apparently the boxed milk keeps for a long time on the shelves, and eggs are super fresh here.  You refrigerate them at home though.
*You MUST weigh most of your fruit and veggies on the scale, then put a little sticker on them with a price tag before going to the register.  Otherwise you risk the embarrassment of having to go back and do it later, holding up the line.
*Some veggies are sold by weight, and some individually. (Quick anecdote: I quickly noticed that putting a price tag on produce was a thing at the supermarket.  Like a pro, I started weighing and stickering my colorful array of fresh fruit.  There’s a touchscreen computer that helps you with the process.  All was well, until…. I couldn’t find the icon for the cucumber.  A large line was forming behind me, and I was desperately searching through all of the pictures.  Finally, a woman who looked helpful approached.  I said, “Donde esta el pepino!?” and she couldn’t find it either.  Many agonizing moments later, she realized that pepinos are sold individually, not be weight.  So no sticker for my pepino.  Whew.)
*At the register, you will be asked a few questions:
-“Acumulas puntos?” (Do you have a rewards card?) and “Quieres donar suchnsuch pesos?” (Do you want to donate suchnsuch pesos)  Of course, my reply was “Uhhhmmpphh…. lo siento….. hablo ingles.”  Apparently they ask for donations every time you go to the store.  Your spare change is supposedly donated to charities, but people have mixed feelings about it because they think the supermarket is doing this for selfish reasons (tax benefits and good PR).
-Efectivo o tarjeta? (Cash or card): if you are paying with a card, make sure to indicate whether you are using credito o debito. If you don’t say anything, they will usually assume it’s a debit card.
-Tip the bagger!  They are volunteers, so it is common to tip them about 100 pesos.
Jumbo and Tottus are the big supermarkets here. They are comparable to Walmart because you shop for food there, but you can also find clothes, bath towels, office supplies, etc.  Unimarc is also pretty big.  All of these places are relatively pricey.  The smaller chains are Santa Isabel and Lider Express.  Prices are significantly cheaper!
*Avocadoes (and many other types of produce) here are quite delicious but SO expensive.  It’s better to buy them at La Vega market.


4 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping in Chile: What You Need to Know

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  1. Congrats on your first post! Yea, grocery stores in other countries are interesting… Iceland were only open 11am-8pm and it felt super sterile in there… probably had to do with the fact they’re and island and have to import EVERYTHING. Produce was downright gross. And everything is soooo expensive there!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! 😉 Wow those are limited hours! Makes sense that they would need to import everything. It’s interesting, though, that something as simple and mundane as grocery shopping can become fascinating and sometimes challenging when abroad!

      Liked by 1 person

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