Lilongwe - Post Report Question and Answers
How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Load up on consumables. Especially tissue and paper towels. The quality here is horrible and has a funky smell. I would not recommend using the bidets at the homes as the water coming out is brown. You will have to shop around for food items. Best meat is at Kapani. Chipiku is good for vegetables. There are also lots of locals with farms that have good quality veggies and of course you can grow your own. Food Lover's, a South African chain has some items but there stock stays low. Maybe things will have improved by time you arrive at Post. Bower's is also good. - Jul 2020
You can get most of the basics most of the time. Sometimes you have to go to several places to get even that, sometimes items are just out of season. For example, you might find expensive imported blueberries from South Africa maybe half the year. Broccoli seems to disappear for a few months each year. For about a year I could not find skim milk. Yet there are also surprises, such as an increase in "Mexican" food like tortillas, taco shells, salsa... Despite there being a Coca Cola bottling plant in Malawi, it does not make "diet" or "light" soda and so when you see Coke Light or Pepsi Light stock up! There is a once a month farmers market close to the Embassy where you can get lots of specialty items. - Feb 2020
Almost anything is available in Lilongwe if you're willing to look and drive to multiple stores. The issue in Malawi is more about when it is available. As a landlocked country entirely dependent on the importation of goods, there is a "feast or famine" reality to popular consumer goods here. You just never know if something is ever going to be available again. Consequently, there is a decent amount of bulk purchasing and hoarding when something is suddenly back in stock. - Sep 2018
Basic meat and produce are very reasonably priced and of good quality. Dairy products and other imported goods can be quite expensive. And compared to the US, there are far less processed foods (which can be a good thing). We have pouch, so we're able to ship in a few things to fill the gap. - Jul 2017
There are several decent grocery stores here - Old Chipiku, New Chipiku, Old Shoprite, New Shoprite, Foodworths, Bowers, Carni-Wors, Food Lovers and Spar. (If you know South African Spar and Foodlovers, please reset your expectations.) You can generally get most items you would need but it may require visiting several of the stores. If you see something you want, you buy it because it may not be there the next time! There have been occasional shortages of skim milk and unsalted butter.
There are monthly farmers markets and a CSA like veggie basket you can get biweekly. Many expats have large vegetable gardens and fruit trees.
This is a consumables post and although you can buy cleaning products here, if there is something you like, it may be better to ship it. - Oct 2016
Groceries are expensive and so are cleaning and household supplies. There are also some issues with availability (egg shortages, chicken shortages, milk shortages). Things seem to be getting better in terms of availability and options, but people still tend to hoard a little when they see something like frozen berries or a new cheese or Coke Light even. - Aug 2015
Twice as expensive as in the U.S....sometimes three times as much. - Sep 2013
Groceries and household supplies are really hit-and-miss here. Sometimes you find them, sometimes you don't. Most things, except for fresh local produce, are a lot more expensive here. I do a lot of shopping for staples online, and then get vegetables from the market. - Sep 2012
Depends on your diet. For an American there are many foods available, but not consistently. Supplies for Mexican food were very expensive or impossible to find. I actually did a lot of online grocery ordering. - Sep 2009
Malawi is an expensive country, but you can find most of what you need. - Jul 2009