Most people probably see grocery shopping as a chore, but I am usually pretty content with grocery shopping because it means that I get to eat. Shopping in Honduras is no different for me. Honduran grocery stores have pretty much all the items that you would find at an American grocery store but with a lot less selection and the prices definitely vary as well. Located about a block away from the volunteer house is a grocery store called Santa Gema. This is where I do most of my shopping. There are other options for shopping too like La Colonia (slightly bigger than Santa Gema and open on Sunday), maxi dispensa (the biggest store in town with the most selection), and little shops along the boulevard. It did not take me long to get to know these places because the bus ride to school takes you through all of these parts of town.
Despite most stores having a pretty big selection, stores like Santa Gema do not have vegetables and their meat selection is pretty sparse. For fruits and vegetables I go to the nearest fruit stand. They have a lot of the same fruits that you find in the states plus more tropical options as well and everything is pretty cheap. There is not a big difference between different fruit stands either. You can buy frozen chicken, frozen fish, some ground beef, and a few other meat selections at Santa Gema, but if you want good pork, beef, or chorizo for grilling then you should hit up a butcher shop. In general meat is the most expensive food in Honduras, but it is not too unreasonable. Since Olancho is known for its cattle ranching the beef is usually pretty fresh and so is the rest of the meat. You can even find meat that is already marinated which we often use for barbecues.
Tortillas comprise a large part of the Honduran diet and go along with most meals. You can expect to be served 3 or 4 tortillas with most dishes. Tortillas can be bought off the street from women who make them in front of their houses. The going rate for 2 tortillas is 1 lempira so they are pretty affordable. Women usually make them in the mornings because the makeshift stoves that they use get pretty hot and most families just buy them before dinner from their nearest tortilla lady.
The volunteer house has two kitchens. One of the kitchens is open air, so it is a lot cooler if you are using the oven. They both have most of the same cooking utensils and appliances. I have been able to cook the same things that I normally cook back in the United States. It sometimes takes longer because of the hodgepodge of utensils and I sometimes have to substitute ingredients, but things usually turn out as good as they do at home.
If you are looking to make other purchases besides food there are also options for that. A block or so past Santa Gema and also very close to the volunteer house is the Bodega Olanchano. Here you can find some groceries, but also a variety of house wares. I needed a towel, a new pillow, and a mug and I was able to find all of these things here amongst the selection of other household and kitchen items. On the boulevard and around the center of town there are many clothing stores and shoe stores. The selection varies from store to store and sometimes you can’t find more than one of the items that you are looking for. On the boulevard there is also a store called Carrión. It is basically a clothing store similar to a Macy’s or H&M.
Cooking and grocery shopping in Honduras, even for my vegetarian roommate Abby, has been very similar to the United States. Most food is reasonably priced in Honduras although certain things like peanut butter and chocolate chips (things I crave for some reason) can get a bit pricey. Some of the best meals that I have eaten in Honduras have been at the houses of my coworker’s families and student’s families so be sure not to pass up an opportunity to try the local homemade cuisine.