Food Shopping

I find that I shop for food several times a week. It’s as if Panamá didn’t have refrigeration. The truth is, I can shop for only what I can carry. I can easily fill up a backpack and sometimes I have to add another bag. I’ve even been known to make two trips in one day.

Boquete central (known locally as Bajo Boquete) has four main grocery stores (mercados) and an innumerable number of small convenience (mom and pop) stores (tiendas). There is also a public market (mercado público) which is a permanent building of small stalls. All of these are open 7days a week (excluding some holidays).

Additionally, there are specialty stores for meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, wine, and organic products, or any combination of these. There are also some street vendors, either stationary or traveling in trucks. There is a Tuesday Market generally geared toward expats. Handmade items also abound there.

The availability of items in the grocery stores fluctuates daily or weekly. I often have to go to more than one store to purchase a particular item or brand. Imported items are generally more expensive than local products. I always look for the latter unless experience has told me that the quality is not as good as the imported items. Yet, finding Panamanian foods unknown to me is mostly a pleasure.

Portion of Boquete Public Market

I have compiled a short list of items I have purchased recently. I thought the prices (US dollars) might be of interest to you:

  1. Bottle salad dressing 8/oz          1.95
  2. Can cream corn 14.75/oz           1.20
  3. 2 apples                                       .76
  4. Strawberries .66/lb                    5.69
  5. Carton of milk 32/oz                  1.60
  6. Carton of orange juice 32/oz      1.24
  7. Bag of granola 12/oz                6.45
  8. Can diced tomatoes 14/oz          1.98  
  9. Green tea 20 bags                      1.61
  10. Papaya 2.2/lbs                           2.19
  11. 12 medium eggs                        2.00
  12. Carton quick oats 42/oz             3.59
  13. Small can tuna fish                    2.00
  14. Very small can                 1.45
  15. Container of cinnamon .15/lb    1.43
  16. Can breadcrumbs 15/oz            2.38
  17. Carton of fresh spinach              1.94
  18. Box of chicken stock                 3.15
  19. Butter 1/lb                                 6.89
  20. Bog of Mozzarella cheese 8/oz  2.95
  21. Box sliced mushrooms .88/lbs   3.60
  22. Can string beans 14.5/oz              .93
  23. Panamanian coffee .94/lbs         5.12
  24. Campbell’s Mushroom Soup     2.32

Boquete is a little more expensive than other towns in Panamá. It is possible to go to larger stores in larger cities to find lower prices. The influx of expats to Boquete has likely raised prices but allowed for a better and greater variety of products than in many Panamanian communities.

Fact: Panamá does not allow plastic grocery bags; fruit and vegetable stands
         usually provide plastic bags if needed.


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