Chennai - Post Report Question and Answers

How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries were fine, but nothing special. Any US products were located at two or three markets, and the premium was substantial. We had a cook who did the grocery shopping, so didn't do much ourselves. Cost of local groceries is cheap (seafood, meat, veggies, rice, etc). - Jan 2024

It's rather inexpensive to get veg and fruits. There's always something to discover here in the small groceries. In my opinion, it makes no sense why India cannot have a proper grocery store, but has these hole in the wall closets stuffed full of products and people. No butchers anymore either so buying fresh meat from a real butcher is challenging and you end up buying bagged meat or frozen meat. - May 2023

You can get everything nearly in Chennai, however, will have to go to several shops to get what you want. Meat is of a poor quality. Alcohol on the open market is very expensive. - Apr 2023

Most things were available but of varying quality. Grocery stores are small and unsanitary and you must look at expiration dates on products. You could get most products here but it takes a good day of visiting several stores. Imported products are best bought online from the US if you really need something. - Apr 2023

You learn to make do with what's available, spend a bit more at the grocery stores that cater to westerners/wealthy Indians, or have your household help do everything for you. There's literally no in-between. - Aug 2021

Local produce and seafood are plentiful and inexpensive. You can buy a KG of fresh shrimp at the fish market for about 10 USD. There is no longer a consumables shipment so you will want to ship items in your HHE that are cost-prohibitive, such as: olive oil, maple syrup, peanut butter, pasta sauce, etc. It should be noted that you can buy almost anything here, but you will pay dearly for it in the case of imported items. The pouch is very restrictive when it comes to shipping liquid items. - Apr 2021

Depends on where you shop. Everything is available, but for a price. Lots more here than I expected, but then Chennai is a large city. If it is a local product then it is relatively cheap. There are supermarket apps that allow you to have groceries delivered. - May 2019

Cheap if you shop where the locals go and stick to local food which is all sorts of rice and spice dishes. Tropical fruits are fresh, wonderful and available depending the season (mangoes, jack fruit, guavas, pineapple, papaya, and banana). I never knew I liked mango or road coconut water so much! Vegetables are not popular and harder to find. Besides chicken, meat is hard to obtain and beef or pork almost impossible to obtain. Eateries and shops advertising "beef" are usually selling water buffalo (aka -- Bangalore beef). Lovers of vegetarian and spicy Indian food will be very happy here. Meat-atarians and those who don't like the local cuisine will suffer. - Aug 2018

Groceries are a lot more expensive than you might think! If you eat like a local (primarily starch-based vegetarian options), then it's very cheap, but vegetables, fruits, chicken and other meats, cheeses, yogurts, etc. are more expensive than in the U.S. Be warned that in the hot season, we've had a lot of trouble with spoiled food even at the fanciest grocery stores. - May 2018

Very cheap and you can find what you need. You may have to hunt a bit, but you can find it. Lots of people shop at Amma Naana. I used Big Basket a lot. - May 2016

Produce is readily available once you find a good vendor, though seasonality greatly affects what's available. Imported produce is all but non-existent. Aside from paneer, cheese is extremely limited, and imported cheeses are often of low quality. Other imported products are available at two or three specialty stores, but goods are often expired. - May 2016

You can get everything if you know where to look. That said, some people find it hard to get anything. There's lots of fresh produce on the local market. - May 2015

Western cereals, peanut butter, chips are much more expensive. Fruits and vegetables were very cheap and need to be cleaned very well before eating. Cleaning products are locally available and inexpensive. Toilet paper was not good quality so we ordered it through amazon. - Mar 2015

All the basics available locally and inexpensive. More familiar western brand foods (cereals, peanut butter, chips) are much more expensive and harder to find. As a consumable post you can plan for many of the things that you really want from the States. Fruits and vegetables were plentiful and incredibly cheap, but do have to be cleaned before eating. Refrigeration is questionable in almost all of the grocery stores but a few suppliers of meat were pretty reliable and used by everyone. - Oct 2014

Foreign goods are expensive. Other food is not. - Oct 2014

This was one of the worst parts of our tour. You can get veggies and fruits for cheap, they need to be washed thoroughly but if that's all you want you are in luck. Everything else is a nightmare. There are two main expat stores (at least) one of which Amma Nana. The shopping experience is terrible here: crowded, dirty, imported goods that are overpriced and often out of date. Their cold section clearly isn't cold during the frequent power outages and as such we don't buy any meat or dairy there. In reality, if you want to eat something other than veggies and rice, you need to stop at at least three different places and hope you can find a good protein supplier that you trust. It's not easy so use your consumable shipment. - Jun 2014

There are many options for groceries. Amma Naana is handy for just about everything you need, but you'll pay a high price for anything which is specifically tempting to the expat - for example parmesan. Gourmei Market (no, that's not a spelling mistake) is similar to Amma Nanna but it's smaller, generally quieter and a more pleasant place to shop. Spencers and Nilgiris (great for staples and cleaning products) are small groceries which you'll find all over town, and can be cheaper than Amma Naana for certain items. There are also some hypermarkets- French-owned Auchan, and a few branches of the Indian hypermarket Big Bazaar. There are also a few specialist shops, such as Nuts n Spices and N2H Nutrition to Health, both of which are excellent for all the staples. - May 2014

Local varieties are inexpensive. Fresh produce is extremely affordable. Spices are too, so don't ship them if you don't already have them! Import items are very costly. Get them through the mail or put them in your consumables shipment. - Aug 2013

Fruits and vegetables are the best that I have ever had and unbelievably cheap. We do wash everything in a dilute bleach solution before we eat it though. You can usually what you want in Chennai, but you may have to really look for it. - Jul 2012

You'll spend more on these things than in the U.S., if you want U.S.-style quality. - Aug 2011

There are local markets in every neighborhood. It is all local food and supplies, decent and good prices for the local items. Anything imported is twice as high as what you would pay for the local items. The fresh vegetables and fruits are seasonal but fresh and good. You have to go to several different shops to get all you need but you learn your neighborhood. You can find American items but be prepared to pay double. We learned to just live on the local pasta and sauces and spices. Beef is hard to find as the city is predominately Hindu. Chicken and Fish are plentiful. Pork is very hard to find as well. - Jun 2010

There is a bit of everything but not all of the time. If you have favorite brands and recipes, you may find some specific things hard to find Good cheeses/meats are hard to find & expensive. Wine/alcohol is also extremely limited and expensive. - Sep 2009

Vegetables are cheap and abundant when in season. Most things can be found at a price. I have become vegetarian since moving since there is no place that I trust to buy meat. It is not killed, cleaned, or distributed in a sanitary manner. - Aug 2008

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