How We Handle the Cost of Food in Hawaii

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The cost of food in Hawaii is higher than what it is on the mainland. I knew that it was but until we moved to Oahu, I didn’t quite understand what an impact it can have on living expenses.

To give you an idea of the price differences, things like a small pack of cherry tomatoes can cost $6.99 versus around $3.99 or less in most supermarkets on the mainland.

Produce is especially high here. In one supermarket we visited, green bell peppers were priced at $4.99 a pound. A box of saltine crackers was $3.99!

Some items are comparable to what we were used to on the mainland while others seem astronomical. If you’re not a savvy shopper, your grocery bill can get out of control.

To help mitigate the cost of food in Hawaii, we have followed the advice of other locals and sought out our first farmer’s market.

Shop at Farmers Markets to Help with the Cost of Food in Hawaii

This past weekend, we drove to the Pearlridge Farmers Market in Aiea. It is a nice farmer’s market with plenty of fresh produce at great prices.

We ended up with a large haul of produce for only $18! We bought:

  • Roma tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Onion
  • Green onions
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Green bell peppers

Everything we bought could have easily cost around $30 or more in any supermarket on Oahu.

Another great plus is that we get to support local businesses. There were other vendors at the market selling various items besides produce.

We are for sure going to visit this farmer’s market and others around the island each time we need produce.

Wholesale Club Memberships Like Sam’s Club and Costco

Another great way to save money on food is to get a wholesale club membership from either Sam’s Club or Costco.

We recently paid for a Sam’s Club membership and visited the Sam’s Club in Honolulu. Produce can still be high in these places but you can find some good deals.

These wholesale clubs can save money on items you buy constantly such as laundry detergent and other food items.

You do have to buy the items in bulk but it is often a better price per item versus buying a single item in regular supermarkets.

It is well worth it in the long run.

Supermarket Rewards Cards

One of the main supermarkets on the island is Safeway. We shop here on occasion and have a rewards membership.

It is a matter of signing up and inputting your phone number when you checkout. For example, we bought $75 worth of groceries today at Safeway but thanks to our rewards, we saved $11 which dropped our total down to $64.

Safeway also has weekly Friday sales on different items. Keep in mind that sale items go quickly! Therefore, if you want to take advantage, it’s best to get there early before they sell out.

Shop Everywhere!

What I mean by this is to bargain shop in supermarkets of all kinds. Whole Foods has always been known to have high prices, even on the mainland.

However, we shop for gallon bottles of water there because they are only $1.79 per bottle versus $2.79 or more in other supermarkets.

You’ll soon learn which places to shop for specific items. If there are markets you don’t frequent often due to high prices, check for certain items you buy regularly and find out what day weekly sales are run.

Places to Grocery Shop On Oahu

  • Safeway
  • Down to Earth
  • Whole Foods
  • Times Supermarket
  • Sam’s Club
  • Costco
  • Marukai Wholesale Mart
  • H-Mart
  • Walmart
  • Target

Those are some of the supermarkets we have frequented since we’ve lived here. Again, each place will have great deals on specific items.

Also, check for apps for the different markets. That way you get direct access to any sales and you can be alerted to the sales on your phone.

Plan Your Meals Weekly

One thing that helps with our own food costs here in Hawaii is planning our meals in advance. Cooking most of our meals saves us money.

Eating out is expensive as well since many restaurants’ food prices are high for the same reason.

Dining out is a treat for us so we have even begun planning which restaurants we will eat out at on the weekends.

However, we cook our meals during the week making enough so that we have leftovers for lunch.

It is as simple as writing out your meals and their ingredients on paper or typed up in a Word doc.

Closing Thoughts

Saving money on groceries takes a bit more effort here than in most places. However, it is not impossible and after a while, you start to learn where to shop for what.

Work the sales, shop at the farmer’s markets, and the wholesale clubs. Over time, you’ll become a savvy shopper and save money on groceries.

Do you have any tips on saving money on the high cost of food in Hawaii? Leave them in the comments section of our YouTube video addressing this topic.

About the Author

Hi! I'm Tina, the other half of Overjoyed On Oahu. I do most of the blogging on this website. Thanks for stopping by the blog! Be sure to follow us here and on our YouTube channel.