Living in any foreign country will force you to adapt to many changes, and the way you eat is no exception. Leaving the comfortability of your country, city, and even your personal routines can be difficult, but it will also force you to adapt and grow. Before coming to Kuwait we were set in our routine of grocery shopping and meal prepping before our week began, knowing exactly where all our favorite items were in our nearby grocery stores. It wasn’t until we got here that we realized shopping would become much more inconvenient, time-consuming, and expensive.
One of the major issues about shopping here is the ability to do so. Full grocery stores are far and few, so it’s not like we are able to hop into the car and run to the store to grab something we need. There are small convenience stores called Bukalas, but they’re similar to gas station stores with limited amounts of goods. Not only is it mostly candies and sodas, but most only take cash. So we’ve finally familiarized yourselves with the stores in our city, but the next problem we run into is the malls. Malls are everywhere in Kuwait, and the grocery stores we shop at are actually INSIDE said malls. When we do our weekly shopping we have to take many things into account, including traffic getting to the mall and parking at the mall to get inside. Even during school day hours, it’s very crowded.
The second most asked question I received before moving was about how my eating habits would change while here in Kuwait. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 11 years, so moving to a Gulf country that consumes a lot of meat was concerning to my family. Surprisingly, Kuwait is very diet and restriction friendly. Although we have some of the highest obesity rates in the world (thanks to American fast food), Kuwait surprisingly has tons of health-conscious restaurants.
The biggest downfall to being a vegetarian (and a generally healthy couple), is the price. I thought eating healthy in the States was expensive, but because most everything is imported here, sometimes we’re spending double on items that we eat regularly. For example, a quart of almond milk is around $6, whereas in the States we’d buy double the amount for half the price. Prices of produce can also be high, but they mostly depend on where the items are imported from. If you’re frugal shoppers like we are, you learn to read labels and not worry so much about which countries you’re buying from. Unfortunately, since there are some items we just can’t live without, we end up paying the higher prices.
You can see in the picture below the price of pomegranates from Egypt are 295 fils/kilogram, versus pomegranates from India are 895 fils/kilogram.
Regarding produce and other perishables, we are lucky to have many options. We’ve come across tons of new fruits and vegetables that aren’t available in the US, and some we’ve never even heard of! Below are pictures of some spices, vegetables, and fruits that are new to us. (Also note the crazy amounts of plastic that are being used!)
I’ve been able to shop and find foods I am familiar with eating, and thankfully restaurants are very conducive for vegetarians and vegans. This came as a surprise to us as we were doing research about Kuwait, but since we’ve been here we’ve visited multiple plant-based restaurants. Of course, that means we’re paying plant-based prices, but it has been great to broaden our horizons and try new things.