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Old 15.10.2011, 04:07
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Does the cost of food change your habits?

I am moving to Zurich next year for an exchange with my family and have been wondering if the cost of food (compared to Australia) or the variety have changed your eating habits from home? Do people travel across the border to alleviate the cost of food? Do you go without many things? Do you buy up in bulk? Do you buy meat by the beast? How do you cope? How have your eating habits changed? Any help greatly appreciated so that we can get some idea of what we will be in for next year.
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Old 15.10.2011, 07:31
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

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I am moving to Zurich next year for an exchange with my family and have been wondering if the cost of food (compared to Australia) or the variety have changed your eating habits from home? Do people travel across the border to alleviate the cost of food? Do you go without many things? Do you buy up in bulk? Do you buy meat by the beast? How do you cope? How have your eating habits changed? Any help greatly appreciated so that we can get some idea of what we will be in for next year.
Moving anywhere will change your habits a bit. My parents have been here for 3 months fron Australia and my mothers observation that a trolley load of family shopping was about the same or less here. Red meat and cheese are a lot more expensive but this balances out with some other items. Depending where you are living maybe going over the boarder will save you a bit, we did that when we first came here (6 years ago) but after you factor in time and fuel it is hard to say if you save anything. Careful shopping here, looking for special offers is probably a better bet and realising that you can't get everthing from one supermarket if you want the best price/quality ratio.
Eating habit wise we eat a lot more salad, pork and chicken here than in Australia but that is probably a good thing, healthwise. Your best friend is http://en.comparis.ch/aktionen/default.aspx until you get it worked out. Eating and drinking out is more expensive (or anything with a labour component in it) but there are some reasonable places around (relative to Switzerland). If it is for one year, just enjoy the place and don't get too worked up over the cost of things otherwise you will spoil your whole experience here.
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Old 15.10.2011, 08:39
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

Good morning, and welcome to the forum.

Eating habit have changed a lot since moving here (from NZ). I haven't had a lamb chop in this country Though I did have some roast leg of lamb- for Easter (at a rich friends' house) I think it was in 2010.
Steaks are priced per 100g not per kg.

You learn what new things you like, you adjust. Vegemite is called cenovis, and tastes a little different.
Mangos and passion fruit are a luxury - avocado is still a staple but some things are just too fine to give up.

And in the beginning you ask your mother to send you chocolate biscuits that you cannot live without.

With respect to the overall price of food- I really get the impression that I actually spend less of my monthly salary on food than I would in NZ. But that is another story in itself.
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Old 15.10.2011, 08:59
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

Last time I went home to Australia I was really struck by how the price of food has risen so much. So no, I don't think you'll find there's much of a difference. We don't eat meat so I can't comment on any differences there.
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Old 15.10.2011, 09:30
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

I live on the french side so im not sure if it differs, we do go accross the border to carrefour but not so much for the money side (however for us a family of 5 it is cheaper) but for the choice under one roof. They seem to have a wider selection of fruit and veg and some more exotic types. They also have lamb which i love they chicken is cheaper but i do prefer the swiss chicken!

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Old 15.10.2011, 09:37
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

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Last time I went home to Australia I was really struck by how the price of food has risen so much. So no, I don't think you'll find there's much of a difference. We don't eat meat so I can't comment on any differences there.
I found this too. The prices of many things were more in Australia than here. Milk, cheese, rice and many staple goods cost in Oz than there..and of course bananas

When we first moved here we wouldn't have red meat very much at all. I certainly wouldn't cook an Aussie roast beef recipe with a 2kg piece of beef like in my Donna Hay cookbook but a smaller piece of tenderloin cooked as Cheateaubriand is more appreciated now. We have beef steak about once a week and to be honest that's all we want for our waistlines.

We certainly eat better here and every meal has salad + fresh vegetables + no more than 300g of meat per person. We would eat a lot more meat before moving here and eat out a few nights a week. For our family of 5 (at the moment), food is our second biggest expense.
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Old 15.10.2011, 09:41
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

I've changed a lot. I eat out much much much less. I cook at home correspondingly more. I shop across the border (France and Germany - advantage of having a bicycle and living in Basel) regularly. France (and Turkish shops in Germany) have loads of lamb at pretty normal prices.
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Old 15.10.2011, 10:01
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

Nope. I'll cut corners in many places but food is not one of them. Of course, you can buy cheaper milk or eggs and it's no different to me from the expensive stuff. But if I need a zillion ingredients and spices and overpriced meat for a dish I want to make, I buy them.

For two adults right now, we're spending around 1200-1500 CHF a month easily on food, and that's without dining out at all.

We sure like to cook though. =D
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Old 15.10.2011, 10:20
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

We are a family of 5. We arrived from Sydney in 2008 and had been living on a tight budget over many years back home...

We found the cost of food (especially meat) much higher - but it's not so much that 'everything costs more' - it's that there are just not the same 'really cheap' options...

We learnt how to cut the budget down, and what was cheap and edible, and where else to go.

And if you want nice lamb, come along on the shopping tour that I run in Zurich - I bought beautiful lamb chops last week for about 24chf a kilogram.

The AUD was buying .91 chf when we arrived, dropped to .76 at Christmas (after the crash 2008) and then went back up again...

We earn a lot more and we spend a lot more. We are definitely much better off financially, and our lifestyle is better. We were not 'poor' in Australia, just poor young family trying to be financially independent form our wealthy parents...a lot of our lifestyle in Aus was subsidised by having dinner with family/friends several times a week, and sharing things like cars and holidays - now my parents come to visit and spend a month or two's salary in a couple of weeks, then go home again and save their money...

You certainly have to learn to recognise foods, the packaging are different, labels are in German, French and Italian but not English, and things are not where you'd expect to find them (some things are in the fridge that you'd expect on the shelf, and vice versa)...some products are processed differently or served differently, and you can definitely shop around for better products and better prices...

Also, in Sydney the 'corner store' run by independent people would be generally more expensive than the big supermarkets - here it's the opposite - I can get much fresher, cheaper vegetables at the corner stores than at the supermarket, and the 'markets' with local and 'bio' produce are 'boutique' rather than 'direct from the cellar door' prices...
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Old 15.10.2011, 10:53
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

When I went to live in the UK in 70 (from Switzerland) I had to change the way I ate and cooked. Insisting on eating Swiss/French food would have been extortionately impossible in London- and even near on impossible (in those days the choice of European food in the UK was non-existent, apart from the Swiss Centre on Leicester Square and a Swiss butcher/delicatessen at the back of Tottenham Court Road).

40 years later, I am back in CH on a UK pension- so changes had to me made. We use fruit and veg in season, local produce and eat much less meat, but we both feel it actually much better for us. Going to live in another country and insisting on eating what 'we are used to' is a/ boring and a missed opportunity to try new things b/ very very expensive. Ask your neighbours and colleagues how to cook the veg in season - at the moment for instance fennel is really good value. Cut in half, cook till tender, make a white sauce, place the pieces of fennel in an oven dish, sprinkle with pieces of ham, cover with sauce and sprinkle with a bit of GruyŤre or your local cheese, and bake in the oven till golden brown - serve on it's own or with pasta.

Fortunately we live very close to the French border so can go and shop there weekly, and we also grow much of our own fruit and veg.
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Old 15.10.2011, 11:00
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

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We certainly eat better here and every meal has salad + fresh vegetables + no more than 300g of meat per person. We would eat a lot more meat before moving here and eat out a few nights a week. For our family of 5 (at the moment), food is our second biggest expense.
So what is your biggest expense? News is positive thus far and I am hoping that you are going to say rent is your biggest (hoping because we are doing a house swap with the exchange so rent is a non-issue for us.
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Old 15.10.2011, 11:38
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

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So what is your biggest expense? News is positive thus far and I am hoping that you are going to say rent is your biggest (hoping because we are doing a house swap with the exchange so rent is a non-issue for us.
Like everywhere else, rent IS the biggest item in the budget. Then food, then I would suppose healt (and other) insurance.

Going back to food, I miss seafood and fish. Choice is limited, and it is expensive....
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Old 15.10.2011, 11:46
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

When we first moved here five years ago, I baulked at the price of food stuff, tried to economise where I could. As a year passed, I got used to it - stopped multiplying prices with my home currency exchange rate. Now we eat mostly what's seasonal and fresh and more meat than ever although we try to be as ecologically conscious as is practical (consume much less beef, for example). And I have never eaten so much cheese and chocolates in my life.
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Old 15.10.2011, 13:39
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

Our eating habits have changed radically.

When I buy meat, I go to the local butcher; the price is not far off the grocery stores, but the quality and selection is far, far better. Not to mention that much is sourced locally; eating 'ethically' raised beef/lamb/chicken is important to me, that I know the farms means that I know how the animals are treated. And there's the whole support the local farmer/reduce food miles thing.

The prices are still shocking, but at least I feel that I am getting good value for the money.

But at these prices, we don't eat meat every day - likely once or twice a week. Most meals are vegetarian.

Weather and the winds of chance permitting, I grow a fair amount of my own veggies and fruit, saving a bit.

I try to keep my grocery bill down to something not so unreasonable by saving on non-food items. I'm happy with the quality of several store/generic brands here, and the savings are significant.

We rarely go out for a meal, but that is mostly down to how our lives have changed rather than a conscious decision based on prices. When we first arrived we still went out at least once a week; these days our schedules just don't allow it.

The sad thing - somewhere around the 8-10 year mark I developed an aversion to... of all things... chocolate. One of the basic foodstuffs off the menu - unbelievable. Please doG don't let that happen with cheese.
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Old 15.10.2011, 13:46
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

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So what is your biggest expense? News is positive thus far and I am hoping that you are going to say rent is your biggest (hoping because we are doing a house swap with the exchange so rent is a non-issue for us.
i think it's normal pretty much everywhere for housing to be #1 expense and food #2. i find it true for both switzerland and london.
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Old 15.10.2011, 13:51
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

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So what is your biggest expense? News is positive thus far and I am hoping that you are going to say rent is your biggest (hoping because we are doing a house swap with the exchange so rent is a non-issue for us.
Good question. I'll be interested to read others' answers. For us ...

Health insurance for a family of four. Hands down. We pay close on 1000 Chf per month, but shop around as it can be done for cheaper.

Then household bills (heating water etc). After that, food, 3 mornings a week playgroup for the 3 year old and running the car all come in at much the same level, give or take a hundred francs.

Similar threads on the topic of how to eat well for less however have inspired me and our food bill is now noticeably less than it once was (particularly MarieZug who wrote recently that she feeds the family on roughly 100 Chf per week .. you have plagued my shopping trips recently (but in a good way!))
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Old 15.10.2011, 14:00
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

The biggest change for me is eating out much, much less regularly. You have to organize yourself better here if you want to stick to eating quality food every day. I have never owned a microwave oven and I am not going to buy it here.
I am still working on readjusting my eating habits. Itís still work in progress but I hope Iíll emerge as a some kind of a macrobiotic eater on the other end.
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Old 15.10.2011, 14:05
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

No my eating habits have not changed. Mainly because I don't eat meat anyway and always shop in France. well just that I go to the market more often and buy local seasonal products when possible. So no complaints here.
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Old 15.10.2011, 23:53
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

Yes, it did change my eating habits. I buy less fresh produce and more frozen vegs, less fish and barely any seafood. My husband eats less steaks.
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Old 16.10.2011, 07:45
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Re: Does the cost of food change your habits?

One thing you'll notice is bananas are much cheaper here than Australia ... got a bunch for CHF 1.20 a kilo the other day ...

Overall, though, I'd say grocery prices are very similar, except for meat (much higher) and some fruit/veg (generally a little cheaper).
Take-away and eating out are much more expensive. Generally the comparison is a week's groceries, or one meal at a restaurant ... and prepare to be shocked at the high price of asian food over here, especially sushi rolls!
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