Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shopping in Minhang

Shanghai is a huge city. We live on the outskirts in the Minhang District which is nice (less crowded, more green space) unless you want to get together with other foreigners or go to any major store or church - then it takes an hour by subway to get there. And that's just to get to downtown! But for what we want - being close to Ryan's work so he doesn't have a long commute and being able to get to know Chinese neighbors - our location works perfectly.

Shopping for food has seemed like it consumes life since we've gotten to Shanghai. In Iowa, I'd take a few hours one afternoon, hit 3 stores in quick succession, and come home with a trunk full of groceries that would last a week. But here, it's a bit different:

Each morning I take Hadassah out soon after Ryan goes to work. We enjoy walking around, picking up pretty leaves, and sometimes talking to neighbors or other babies. She usually gets held and admired by someone along the way. ;) Then we go to the convenience mart right outside our apartment gate. I put her in the ERGO and carry home two 4 L bottles of water. 

It's not what we want to do long term - we're researching a water filter currently, as buying water adds up over time, not to mention all the plastic we're using. But in the meantime, it works. 

The Vegetable Stand
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings a vegetable stand is set up in our apartment complex. Talk about convenient! From it I buy potatoes, onions, garlic, and tomatoes to cook with. I also get fresh eggs!! After not one but TWO instances of buying eggs in the mesh bag they come in at the supermarket only to have them break on us in transport... Ryan was trying to convince me it wasn't worth the hassle and just to order them online at 3x the cost when our Grandma neighbor introduced me to this vegetable stand and I came home with eggs at LESS than supermarket costs! Win win. :) 

The Fruit Stand
This is just a five-minute walk from our apartment, so it's also very convenient! From it I buy any fruit that I can peel. Usually I go two afternoons a week, so I can keep a supply of good bananas on hand. :)

Our excursion looks something like this:

"Hadassah, do you want to go shopping?"

(Confession: This wasn't just before we left and she was clapping about something else. But too cute not to post!)

After Hadassah plays in her bed with toys while I carry the stroller down and we get our shoes on, I carry her down and we head out. She's always quite happy to see the world from her stroller.

There's our local fruit stand!

So far all of the fruit I've gotten has been delicious. The owners love seeing us come, too, as they get to play with Hadassah. There are always one or two or more people entertaining her as she's parked in front in her stroller while I shop. I found it funny that at first the owner would help me, holding bags open for me to put my fruit it. Now she just goes straight to Hadassah and I help myself to the bags. ;)

Back at the apartment with our loot! On this day I also got water, as 2 containers doesn't always last us for a full 24 hours. The basket underneath her stroller I'm afraid I overload, but how else do you get home a small watermelon, two things of water, and a bag of other apples, nectarines, and bananas?

It takes 3 trips to get everything up the stairs, but hey, all this stair climbing with weights is making me strong!

Online + Delivery
This is the more expensive option, but to get vegetables and fruit we don't have to peel or meat we can trust, this is the way to go. A few things are also cheaper than the local supermarket. It's really nice to be able to pick things out in English (the sites I use cater to foreigners) and if I place my order in the morning, often it's delivered that afternoon! They also carry the box of groceries up all the stairs for me, which is a great plus. :) And, above a certain total price (which isn't all that much) delivery is free!

The websites all sell organic food, free-range, grass-fed, etc. It makes it more expensive, though some things are comparable to US prices. But I do find it funny that it took moving to China for us to eat more organic, with local eggs and produce. :)

The Supermarket
By far the most difficult of the options, nonetheless it is needed for dry goods and diapers. Our cloth diapers are coming in our boxes, so soon we won't have to make emergency treks in the rain for them! ;) 

Ryan's gone with me quite a few times, as it's just easier. But I'm determined to do it myself, as it's exhausting after a day of work. Hadassah and I have made the trip together successfully twice now, with only a few minor meltdowns, so we're getting there. 

It involves a 20-30 minute walk both ways (which I enjoy - it's mostly on a sidewalk lined with pretty trees providing shade!) and then we lock up the stroller to enter the mall the supermarket is in. They have narrow openings to prevent shopping carts from leaving the premises, which incidentally prevents strollers from getting in. But Hadassah enjoys sitting in the cart, while I try to push and prevent her from eating the change to lock it up and prevent her from toppling over, which I've learned she doesn't enjoy. ;)

The supermarket has two levels, and was completely overwhelming my first few times. I can't look at overhead signs to find anything (they're all in Chinese!) so I have to examine each item to see if I can find one that has English to know what's in the bag. Finally, though, I feel like I somewhat know my way around, at least to find the regular things I need. I'm also trying to stock up little by little (since I can only transport things back in the stroller basket and in a backpack!) so as to hopefully only have to make the trek every-other week.

Shopping in Minhang... not for the faint of heart. ;) Takes the focus of a whole day to plan menus, shopping lists, order online and go to the supermarket, and that's just to get food for a week! But, it's definitely an adventure.

1 comment:

  1. This is Helen-
    You really are getting some good pictures of Hadassah! The Lord is really providing for you in China! It's easy to tell that he wanted you there in china.