Grocery Hack: Go To These Places If You Need Condiments + Kitchen Basics

Skip the long grocery lines and go here instead!

IMAGE courtesy of No Brand Philippines

The quarantine will end sooner or later but the toll this has on everyone is being felt. When you do venture out of your homes, you're faced with long lines everywhere and if you drop by the palengke, you might find more people than you might be comfortable with during this time. 

Thankfully, the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) declared last March does allow the limited operation of basic services which include groceries and those providing food preparation and food delivery services to remain open. This also includes small shops and stores in the barangays where you live! This is fantastic news because the big supermarkets and groceries where people will line up for hours are not your only source of basic necessities! 

If you just need a few items, such as soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, or even salt and sugar, lining up at the big stores is not going to be productive. Instead, take an alternative route and visit the smaller shops that are in your neighborhood. Here are other places you can find the most basic of your necessities during the quarantine:  

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Photo by Bea Faicol
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1 Convenience Stores

The name says it all! These stores are loaded with the most basic of all household goods. From needing more plastic containers to store your food in the refrigerator to finding that coveted Yakult bottle to make your soju nights at home worth it, you will find many of the food and kitchen items you need here. Plus, some of these places have delicious ready-to-eat food that just needs a blast in the microwave or the steamer. (Siopao, hot dogs, or fried chicken, anyone?) 

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You can even find eggs, bread, flour, sugar, and (yes!) even uncooked rice, too!  

What To Grab: snacks and drinks, ready-to-eat microwaved meals, doughnuts, microwave popcorn, cut-up fruits, merienda meals, ice cream   

Photo by Jasper Castro

2 Asian Groceries 

If you happen to know where a local Asian grocery is in your neighborhood, you'll be delighted to know that these places are loaded with hidden food gems! Korean groceries are sure to not only have ingredients for ram-don but also kimchi, gochuchang, mandu, and ready-made bulgogi marinades and sauces for your samyupsal nights. 

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Craving Japanese cuisine? Japanese groceries have package goods such as miso paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, they also usually have freezers for their sushi-loving customers, too. Since these are usually sashimi-grade seafood, these are some of the best quality fish, too. 

If you find a Chinese deli, look for the dumpling section for lumpia wrappers and packaged tofu but also visit the spices and condiments aisle, especially for the savory black bean paste and black vinegar to go with that frozen package of xao long baos

What To Grab: different Asian snacks and drinks, gochujang, kimchi, ramen, Japanese curry blocks, salted egg powder, furikake rice topping, sushi ingredients, imstant noodles

Photo by John Martin PERRY / CC BY-SA from Wikipedia Commons
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3 Sari-Sari Stores 

If the most basic kitchen items are on your list, you need to drop by your nearest sari-sari store. These stores will have the most basic of ingredients on hand if it hasn't been all bought yet. They'll have the all-purpose cream for that creamy Pinoy carbonara or the refrigerator cake you're planning on making or a small can of luncheon meat for lunch. Best of all, when all else fails, ask for their instant coffee selection to get your caffeine fix. Also, did you know sari-sari stores have the best affordable snacks anywhere?  

What To Grab: all-purpose cream, canned meat, banana catsup, cooking oil, drinks and snacks, coffee sachets, sodas, juices 

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4 Bakeries and Panaderias 

Different kinds of bread products aren't the only items you can find in bakeries and panaderias! The modern panaderia no longer just sells bread. Everything that has to do with bread, including the savory and sweet spreads, fillings, and meats you can stuff into these leavened food, are usually available as well. You don't need to walk out with just bread under your arm. 

What to Grab: bottled sardines, butter, peanut butter, cheese spread, buko juice, milk tea

Photo by Judgefloro / CC0 from Wikipedia Commons
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5 Gas Station Stores 

Just like panaderias are no longer just bread stores, gas stations are not just for gas. Anyone who has had to stop for gas knows that gas station convenience stores are little shops that cater to everything that you need to take a rest. Need a bite to eat? You'll find these places have convenience store-level food as well as packaged snacks and drinks. If you're lucky, you may even have a gas station convenience store that has a decent coffee machine and supports local home cooks and bakers. 

What To Grab: local homemade food products, cafe-level coffee drinks, ready-to-eat meals, pastries, drinks and snacks  

Photo by Elmer nev valenzuela / CC BY-SA from Wikipedia Commons
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6 Drugstores 

You may be dropping by for medicines, face masks and alcohol but the modern drugstore has also gone beyond just being a place that sells medicine. Stroll the aisles to find many similar food items that you may find at convenience stores, too, but with a larger range depending on the size of the store. 

What To Grab: drinks and snacks, different canned food and meats, pasta, tomato sauce, fresh milk  

The quarantine doesn't have to take its toll on you. Give yourself some leeway when deciding on where to go for your most basic needs, especially if it's just a handful of items, and try these alternative shops for them. 

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