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How One Student Budgeted for Groceries in Prague

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My number one expense in Prague so far has been food. No matter how you slice, bargain, or spare, food expenses will be your greatest constant and it is worth learning how to better manage those costs. When we budget we often do so in terms of the prices of goods we’re used to; when going abroad, a whole new cost of living should be factored in. So, what are the long and short-term cost differences between grocery shopping in Prague and in the US.? According to research done by Numbeo1, the cost of groceries in Prague are 30.4% lower than in my hometown of Spokane, WA USA. Having lived in Prague for two months now, I decided to challenge this statistic with some research of my own.

First order of business: find two affordable grocery stores to compare (one in U.S. one in Prague).

Now, if you are living abroad in Prague, there are two main grocery outlets that will quickly become familiar to you: Tesco and Albert’s. If you’re like me and are operating on a budget, either of these options offer the most affordable prices, and are located all around town. Albert’s is slightly cheaper overall and the store I chose to compare in Prague.
For the U.S. I went with Safeway partly because my domestic shopper (my grandpa, after much pleading) regularly shops there and has a membership card that gives him access to special deals. Otherwise, it is another affordable store of choice for me when I’m home.

Second order of business: The Grocery List!

What’s on a typical grocery list? Perhaps your list will differ from mine. I’m a vegetarian who is partial to sweets, as evidenced by the absence of meat and presence of many packages of jelly beans. Aside from that, I bought and took pictures of typical grocery items like fruits, vegetables, bread, coffee, etc.
Here are a couple of my go-to meals in Prague that’ll have you stretching your dollar (or Koruna) for all it’s worth:
Rice (optionally boiled with vegetable stock for flavor) and oven-roasted root veggies (beets, carrots, potato).
Ratatouille, or my version of ratatouille in which I pan-stew eggplant, tomato, zucchini, and lemon juice. Pair with pasta.
Fruit and oatmeal!
The key being to buy and eat lots of fruits and vegetables which are quite cheap here—good for your wallet and your body! I also recommend avoiding purchasing to many prepackaged snack items (e.g. bags of chips, single-serve portions of food) and opting to buy bulk whenever possible. In addition to having a greater unit price, small items go quick and make your trips to the store more frequent where you’re likely to make unnecessary purchases.

So, what were the results?

The 30.4% lower cost that Numbeo estimated was in the right direction, but still far off the mark from my results. Comparing 17 grocery items from the two stores, the price of groceries in Prague are on average 15% cheaper than in the U.S.

How does this affect your budget?

Although everyone will have specialized groceries they buy every week dependent on dietary needs, body type, and other personal factors, here is a rough projection of grocery costs for a 4 month stay in Prague.
Assuming you eat out semiregularly (3-5 times/week) —even if you’re on a budget you are likely to do because it is cheaper in Prague — these are your expected grocery costs:
Happy budgeting!

  1. Cost of Living Comparison Between Spokane, WA and Prague. Numbeo. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=United States&country2=Czech Republic&city1=Spokane, WA&city2=Prague. Published April 2018. Accessed April 17, 2018.

Keisha is a Digital Technology and Culture major at Washington State University and is currently studying abroad with IFSA on the Reimagining Europe program in Prague in Spring 2018. She is a participant in the IFSA First Generation program. Special thanks to Gary Brokaw who helped gather data for this article.