Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Grocery Shopping in Singapore in 40 Easy Steps

  1. Check your diary.  Find an entire day free and mark it “Groceries”.  
  2. Wonder how your life came to this.
  3. Get ridiculously excited when you hear about a fabulous new online delivery service.
  4. Spend your Sunday evening setting up an account and browsing the various food available.
  5. Quickly become aware that they don’t stock dairy.
  6. Or fish.
  7. Or fruit, vegetables or bread.  
  8. Delete your account, and go back to your diary.
  9. On the morning of the allocated day, pack:  water, a sun hat, an umbrella, three times as much money as you would ever imagine spending on groceries, and your maid’s ridiculous granny trolley. 
  10. Eat a hearty breakfast and set off - no later than 9am. 
  11. Head towards the distant bus-stop. 
  12. Stop several times to wipe the sweat from your brow. Wish for the thousandth time that you had a car, or access to Ocado. (Ocado, are you reading?  DELIVER TO SINGAPORE ALREADY.)
  13. Arrive at the bus stop. 
  14. Just past the bus stop spy a branch of the supermarket you had planned to head to.   Skip with joy and wander in. 
  15. Ask a staff member if the store does  delivery. In the ensuing silence, realise he has no clue what you are talking about. Ask another one.  Then a third. Walk away, muttering to yourself. 
  16. Weep with gratitude at the check-out lady who goes out of her way to approach you to tell you that the shop doesn’t do delivery, and assure her that you know which branch does.
  17. Head out again.  By now it is 945am, about 37C and 120% humidty.  Fuck the bus lark and head for the subway.
  18. Realise, when it hits your ankles for the 978th time, that you HATE the granny trolley.
  19. Joy!  Bump into your maid (DO NOT LET THE BABY SEE YOU OR THE MORNING WILL BE LOST) and hand the trolley over to her.  Ignore her suggestions that she will go to the Market. Assure her you actually like doing the grocery shopping.  
  20. Head into the glory of the airconditioned subway. 
  21. Alight at the relevant stop, many miles and 35 minutes away, and head into supermarket nirvanha.
  22. JUST IN CASE, nab a staff member and ask if they do delivery.  “Yes yes, customer service.” Assume this is an affirmative. 
  23. Look at your watch. 1030am.  START SHOPPING!
  24. Find yourself in the dairy aisle. Inspect every ingredient in every item.  Vomit in your mouth several times.  Hover by the $16 organic milk, but YOU JUST CAN’T DO IT. 
  25. Head to the long-life organic milk.  Stare at it for a while, before deciding you can’t do that either.  
  26. Head to the cheese.  Wonder what the fuck all these added ingredients are, IT’S JUST CHEESE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.  
  27. Pick up some yoghurt.  Look at the price. Assume it is made with flakes of gold. Look at the ingredients list, which is so long that it runs off the label. Put it down.
  28. Go stare at some eggs for a while.  Marvel in wonder at the differences in culture that makes “Caged Hens!” something to shout about.  Try not to think about the First Born Eggs.  Ask a staff member if they have organic eggs.  Watch her face fill with mirth.  Organic eggs? HAHAHAHAHA.
  29. Look at your watch.  It is now 1120. Look at your empty basket.  Decide to stop looking at either the price tag or the ingredients labels. Go to the fresh produce and chuck some green stuff in.  De-chuck it when you see that it’s all from China (because you have an unreasonable fear of food form CHina).  Start reading labels again, OH GOD WILL IT NEVER END.
  30. Wander over to the pasta etc aisle. Stare at the enormous, bewitching display of instant noodles for what feels like millennia, before wandering back to the dairy aisle.  Hover at the organic milk some more, before remembering you NEED WINE (preferably now).
  31. Decide that if the Haze returns you won’t be able to shop for wine, so you’d better stock up.
  32. Stock up.
  33. Clink your way to the checkouts.
  34. Spend – I SWEAR TO GOD - $540 on basically nothing. (Heavy nothing, mind you.)
  35. Say “Delivery?” to the check-out girl;  follow her pointed finger to the Customer Service desk, and clink your way there.
  36. Say “Delivery?” to the Customer Service lady.  Be confused by the “Electronic?” response.  Try again.  “Delivery?” “Only electronic.  Groceries, no.”  More mirth – Delivering groceries?  HAHAHAHAHA.
  37. Weep.
  38. Drag your sorry ass home. Vow, as you are rubbing ice on your near-severed wrists, NEVER to go to a supermarket again. 
  39. Put the kettle on for a well-deserved cup of tea. 
  40. Realise you didn’t get any milk.  


  1. I'm cherishing my supermarket right now.
    And wishing you luck with the 'getting used to a different country'proces.
    And shaking my head. If your maid óffers..

    Hang in there!

  2. What you need is not so much a maid. You need a personal FARMER.
    Geeze, that sounds ghastly. Aren't there quaint local markets in Singapore? With exotic vegetables? Do you want me to send you some cheese?

    1. There are. In fact the food selection here is awesome once you move away from packaged stuff. But I either like supermarkets, or like to suffer - not quite sure which. All normal people get their fruit and vegetables at the wet markets - large produce markets - and most quasi-intelligent people send their helpers. I am neither normal nor quasi intelligent, and enjoy wandering bewildered around food marts,

  3. It's so weird how fresh milk is a delicacy in most countries except the UK. Even France and Spain. I don't think I could spend $16 on it though.

  4. Oh yes, grocery delivery:

  5. This one too:

  6. Thanks Anon. But - grrr, spit, gnash teeth - they don't deliver anything other than pantry goods. I want CHEESE. (On the plus side I've heard of somewhere that stocks proper free range organic eggs. I will have to get a taxi to get there, but what cost happy hens?)

  7. All I could do was imagine you standing and staring at things, all the other shoppers giving you a wide berth and whispering to one another about how your caretaker is not doing a very good job.

  8. 41. Let the maid go to the market from now on.

    Spend $300 buying everything in dairy because labels are not written in a recognizable alphabet and they don't believe in label pictures. Bring them home and taste test all of them. Sigh in resignation that everything tastes the same, you still don't know what you bought, and this country apparently does not sell sour cream. Stare at milk in fridge wondering how selling it in clear plastic bags makes any sense to anyone. Also wonder why they don't sell limes in a country that has lime trees. Apologize aloud to my gin.

  9. Great post: Online Grocery is popular these days, also visit