Price Check: a Mexico City Shopping List. Mexico City street sign, Mexico. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Price Check: a Mexico City Shopping List

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Mexico City is super affordable and some things are dirt cheap, making it a brilliant budget destination and a great place to settle in for a while.

Cervezas (beers), for example, cost around $1, the same price they cost when we first visited 17 years ago! However, somewhat surprisingly, it can actually be cheaper to eat tacos at a street stall or taquería than it can be to buy ingredients to cook a meal at home.

If you do want to cook at home – and you probably will if you love Mexican cuisine and take a cooking course, or at the very least, you become smitten with the Mexican breakfast eggs as we did years ago and want to whip up some huevos revueltos con chorizo – then do as the Mexicans do and shop at the mercado (market).

The mercado is best for buying fresh fruit and vegetables, dried chiles, herbs, spices, fresh salsas, and freshly-baked tortillas, which you can also buy at a tortilleria.

The quality was fantastic at every mercado we visited in Mexico City – flawless shiny onions, perfectly formed pieces of fruit, potatoes that looked liked they’d just been uprooted, crisp greens – everything looked super! You’ll find other groceries at the mercado as well, but you’ll need to hop between a number of stalls to get everything you need.

Most mercado stalls display their prices on small blackboards or signs, though not all do, so ask the price first: “¿Cuánto cuesta?” (how much?) or “¿Cuánto cuesta esto?” (how much is this?), then specific how much/many you want. It’s helpful to make numbers the first Spanish you learn.

Mexicans are incredibly polite and gracious, so when dealing with shop-keepers and stall-holders preface everything with “buenas días” (good morning; the markets are always best in the morning), don’t forget to say please (por favor) and thank-you (muchas gracias), and address the stallholder as señor/señora (sir/madam).

There are no proper supermarkets in the centro histórico of Mexico City, just 7-Eleven convenience stores, which seem to be on every second block. They’re handy for snacks, cold Coronas, milk, bread, and a bottle of wine. They also have some basic groceries including tins of refried beans, corn tortillas, jalapeños, salsas, and crema agria (sour cream) so you can slap together some nachos.

The closest market with a good range of produce is Mercado de San Juan on Calle Ernesto Pugibet, a short stroll through Alameda park then down calle Luis Moya. Most visitors to the city will be comfortable walking here through the busy streets.

La Lagunilla market has a better range of produce and groceries, however, not everyone will feel safe in this neighbourhood, which marks the start of the Tepito barrio, one of Mexico City’s dodgiest ’hoods. The best and safest way to get here on foot from the centre is to walk north along Calle Allende (which runs off our own street, Bolivar), which leads directly to the market, or take a taxi.

Once at the markets, you can buy a couple of eco-friendly, bold-patterned shopping bags – some with Frida Kahlo, skeletons, and other icon Mexican symbols on them! – to carry your groceries home. But as usual, to keep things equal across all our destinations, we visited several local supermarkets to get a good sense of the prices for our Mexico City shopping list.

The prices below are what things cost at the time this story was posted; the first column is in Mexican pesos ($), the second and third columns are the conversions to US$ and UK£ using the day’s currency rates.

Price Check: A Mexico City Shopping List

1.5 litre water $8.50 US$0.66 £0.42
1 litre milk $11.70 US$0.90 £0.58
Bottle of local wine $100.00 US$7.72 £5.00
Local 325ml beer $10.00 US$0.77 £0.50
100g Instant Coffee $33.00 US$2.55 £1.65
250g coffee beans $45.00 US$3.48 £2.25
Lipton’s tea 50 bags $50.00 US$3.86 £2.50
1 kg sugar $18.00 US$1.39 £0.90
Jar of pure honey (300g) $36.00 US$2.78 £1.80
1 loaf of bread $23.00 US$1.78 £1.15
250g quality butter $20.00 US$1.54 £1.00
200g cheese (Manchego) $32.00 US$2.47 £1.60
500ml Corn Oil $10.00 US$0.77 £0.50
1 dozen organic eggs $24.00 US$1.85 £1.20
1 kilo tomatoes $11.00 US$0.85 £0.55
1 kilo onions $11.00 US$0.85 £0.55
1 kg apples $18.00 US$1.39 £0.90
250g pistachios $76.00 US$5.87 £3.80
Salsa $12.85 US$0.99 £0.64
Total $550.05 US$42.47 £27.49

Price Check is a series of posts from every destination we visit where we settle in for a while, that could serve as a shopping list for you to stock the kitchen at the start of your stay, as well as a cost of living index, giving you an idea as to what things cost in that place. We include some basic items to get you started, plus a local specialty or two from the place.

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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

6 thoughts on “Price Check: a Mexico City Shopping List”

  1. We really enjoyed the Mexican wines actually – we’ve got a post coming up on them in a day or two – most come from the Baja Peninsula where they do a lot of good reds.

    Were you interested in the price of the place we stayed at? Or prices in Mexico City in general? If in general, I think prices start at about £40/$60 a night, but if you’re interested in the price of the one we stayed at, then I’ll check and get back to you.

    Or did you mean you’d be interested in us adding that to this post each month?

  2. Enjoyed reading the price comparisons! Having moved to el DF from the US, I’d say the US prices on the produce is off. The prices you listed for the onions, tomatoes, and apples would be for 1/2 kg, although if you went to CA, DC, or NY, those would probably be the price for just 1/4 kg. Produce is one of the few things in this country that’s significantly cheaper than the US.

    What this comparison shows is just how expensive it is to live in this country. Someone asked about rent — again, very expensive! For a country with a GDP of $12,000 a year, it is not commensurate, though I can’t really say what the average is. Rent varies widely depending on the part of town.

  3. Hi Alice – none of the prices are ‘off’ – the list actually represents our grocery bill of the first major shop we do when we arrive in each place for the two-week period for Grantourismo.

    These aren’t price comparisons actually (I’ve added a sentence above clarifying that); the first column are the prices of the things we purchased in Mexico City, and the second and third columns are the straight currency conversions to US$ and UK£ so our readers around the world don’t have to do the conversions themselves.

    You may be interested in seeing our Price Checks for Austin (here https://grantourismotravels.com/2010/08/18/price-check-an-austin-shopping-list/ ), which is where we were for 2 weeks before Mexico City, where the same list of groceries cost us US$83, and New York (here https://grantourismotravels.com/2010/08/01/price-check-a-new-york-shopping-list-2/ ) where they cost US$88.

    Overall, we found Mexico dirt-cheap compared to the USA when it came to buying groceries, eating and drinking out, and transport, although I’ve heard that utilities such as electricity and phone rates, especially cell phones, are actually comparable to the USA, however, rents in Mexico City are still significantly cheaper than the USA. In the USA, we found things in Austin to be fairly good value in general, but New York was super-expensive, probably one of the most expensive, if not *the* most expensive city of our trip so far.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Hello. Great article. Do you know which are the best price comparison shopping websites in LatinAmerica? Thanks

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