Palengke vs Supermarket Prices Comparison: Chicken Adobo
Here's what most people might be thinking: shopping at the palengke is more affordable than shopping in the supermarket. It might have been the truth in previous years before the pandemic.
We decided to test this theory by buying ingredients for a simple chicken adobo recipe using only 1/2 kilo chicken. And we discovered that this is the new truth in this time of inflation: you can actually save when you buy from the supermarket. Before we get into how we ended up with this conclusion, we'll share how we conducted this experiment.
How We Compared Prices
To get a full picture, we decided to have two points of comparison between palengke and supermarket prices: first, we compared how much it cost to purchase all the ingredients in each market, and second, we compared how much the recipe actually costs to make.
Our main rules when shopping both at the palengke and the supermarket were these:
- 1. To buy the cheapest ingredients available without sacrificing the quality;
- 2. When choosing ingredient sizes, buy the one that is closest to how much the recipe needs.
Then, to compare the actual recipe cost, we measured the ingredients according to the recipe and computed the cost of the quantity we actually used. For example, if we got 1 kilo of chicken for P190 but only need 1/2 kilo, when we tally the actual recipe cost, then 1/2 kilo of chicken is P95.
The results of our Palengke vs Supermarket Price Comparison for a chicken adobo dish for two:
Palengke: Total Paid = P197 | Recipe Cost = P118
At the palengke, the chicken cuts were divided between whole chickens, whole breasts, leg quarters, and wings. Prices however were not advertised and you have to ask the individual vendors how much the chicken parts you wanted cost. According to the prices listed in the Department of Agriculture's price monitoring reports, the average price of whole chickens is P190. That was how much the chickens in the palengke I visited cost.
For half a kilo of chicken, that should have amounted to around P95. However, chicken cuts do not weigh that precisely so I ended up buying two chicken breasts with a total weight of almost 1 kilo or about 830 grams. The sahog consisted of a combination of 1 head garlic (which weighed 50 grams), about 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (5 grams), and a small bunch of laurel leaves (5 grams) amounting to P18 for the trio. Finally, the soy sauce and white vinegar 200-ml pouches were P12 each.
Total paid at the palengke = P197
However, I didn't need all the chicken I ended up buying. I just needed 1/2 kilo. I could save the other half for another dish. I weighed out the 500 grams I needed for chicken adobo. It was the same case with the peppercorns, the laurel leaves, and suka't toyo. After adjusting the amounts and calculating how much each ingredient cost when measured for the recipe, here's what we got:
Actual recipe cost = P117.19 or P118 if rounded up
Supermarket: Total Paid = P163.55 | Recipe Cost = P91
At the supermarket, you're bombarded with choices! This is where those who are in a hurry can falter but those who have some time on their hands can peruse the choices the major supermarkets offer to get the best deal. For my shopping trip, I hit the jackpot with the chicken. While the average palengke prices were pegged at P190 per kilo, I found a bargain with tinola-cut chicken pieces for only P148 per kilo.
As with most bargain finds, I checked the chicken over and grabbed a few pieces. While the chicken pieces I chose weighed a little under 500 grams, a quick calculation means 500 grams of chicken should cost around P74. I grabbed soy sauce and white vinegar in 200 ml packs for P9.25 and P12.50 respectively. Laurel leaves were P27.50 and black peppercorns were P16.50 for a pack of each. As for garlic, I looked for the most affordable (which happened to be imported garlic) and grabbed a small bag that contained 4 whole heads for P27.50.
Total paid at the supermarket = P163.55
As with the palengke haul, I did the same calculations I did for these ingredients since I won't be using all the ingredients. The total for the entire ingredients list for the recipe at just under P100 for this meal for two.
Actual recipe cost = P91
While both recipes differed by less than P25 for the meal for two, what might be surprising is how much it cost and which of the two markets was ultimately found to be the more affordable choice.
So how could grocery shopping at the supermarket be more affordable? Firstly, we found that having more choices than you might not have at the nearest talipapa or palengke helped. Because there is more variety in item sizes, you can easily adjust how much you buy. Secondly, supermarkets usually have bargain sales on certain items, and taking advantage of these can help cut down total costs.
What these prices don't factor in are transportation costs (whether it's gas money and parking fees or public transportation fares), the effort to make the dishes, and ultimately, your time. When one is looking for a quick ingredient run, hieing off to the nearest one, be it the palengke or supermarket, may be the convenient and practical choice despite it costing more.
Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!
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