Cole Taylor is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing their story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism and media writing major at Lasell College, they are studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this post, Cole talks about grocery shopping in Dublin and preparing meals and shares a little video of the Sunday excursion to stock up for the week!
- - -
Hopefully you are not attached to too many brand names such as Lay’s chips, Prince pasta, Chobani yogurt, Reese’s Puffs, Franks hot sauce, etcetera because you will not find those here in Dublin. However, there are some great alternatives.
The first week here, our eating schedule was inconsistent. We had no food in the refrigerator for at least four days, we went out for dinner but skipped lunch, and we were very dehydrated. That being said, we figured it out with a little trial and error—which is expected.
We came to a consensus that Sundays are our designated grocery days at Aldi. Aldi is comparable to a medium-sized grocery store in the United States. To walk the whole perimeter of the store would probably take less than two minutes without stopping. It has the basic necessities and a little bit more. This is where I buy my produce, cereal, meats, dairy, snacks, and spices.
Before we discovered Aldi, Tesco was our place of choice. Tesco can be compared to a 7/11 or Cumberland Farms. Trying to shop in Tesco is like trying to sprint through a mosh pit crowd. It is not desirable, but it is perfect for grabbing a half gallon of milk or a bag of chips. The prices are much higher than Aldi too.
To my surprise, my first load of groceries from Aldi cost roughly €30. After looking in my bags, I realized I would have easily dropped over US $70 if I had bought the equivalent items. One of many reasons I love Europe.
Speaking of bags, in Ireland, you must buy the bags you need for groceries. They sell plastic bags for 22¢ a piece in the stores, but they also have heavy duty bags for about €1. My recommendation is to invest in a few heavy duty bags and reuse them. I have found that throwing two of them into my backpack makes for an easy and hassle free trip to the store. In America, we are used to people strategically bagging our groceries, unless you use the self-checkout. In almost every store in Ireland, it is up to you to bag your own groceries as the cashier skims them over the bar code scanners (at a rapid pace). This has become quite the game to me.
Heavy items first, light items last. Heavy items in my back pack, light items in bags.
For most study abroad students, the actuality of buying groceries is the easy part. It is the cooking and preparing of food that panics them. Thankfully, I have an aptitude and desire for cooking because there is an advanced level of independence required to live on your own.
Our home institutions in America provide us with meal plans and late night options. It is not often that college students cook their own meals. Going abroad somewhat forces students to get creative in the kitchen, especially when on a budget.
The first full week of classes and internships can be busy and non-stop. In the time I took off from college, I worked full time and grew accustomed to meal preparation for the week making this experience a bit easier.
I realized that the bus system in Dublin can be erratic and waking up a little early is ideal when being mindful of time. To save time, I prepare my meals on Sunday and portion them into Tupperware containers so I can grab and go in the morning. Aside from meals, I buy snacks that are easy to pack, wallet friendly, and require little to no preparation; whole fruits, nuts, yogurt, granola, etc. The labor that goes into my Sundays can be tiring, but it is all worth it come Monday.
Shopping in unfamiliar supermarkets and preparing meals can be one of the several things you learn how to do while studying abroad. Even though I was previously cultured on proper cooking techniques and flavor combinations, I had to adapt to the style of the supermarkets. I am used to an aisle of organic foods and an aisle of Asian infusion products. In Ireland, there are separate stores for those kinds of food items. Strategy, believe it or not, is a part of grocery shopping here.
Though it has only been two weeks, I have enjoyed the adventures of finding new stores and fitting 10 heavy items into one bag while bagging produce and snacks in under fifteen seconds. Everything you do and encounter here should be an adventure.
Today is Sunday. You know what that means. I best get to the kitchen.
This weeks’ menu: Sweet chili chicken and vegetable stir fry over homemade fried rice with egg.
Food for thought: Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask your roommates for help. At least one of them is bound to know how to cook a good piece of chicken.
Cole's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.