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What I Ate Mexico

If I told you I didn’t miss all the perks of an all inclusive resort at our month long vacation in Cabo, I would be lying. I did and am still not sure whether next time I want to go to an all inclusive resort or rent a place and cook our own food. As I suspected, eating out in Cabo San Lucas is not cheap because it is a popular tourist destination, first of all. Secondly, as a Canadian after I take an average dinner for 4 that costs roughly US$45 and multiply it by 1.3, it ends up costing CAD$60, not cheap at all. We allow this kind of treat at home once a month. Maybe if you are American, and it’s only 2 of you, and you are retired, the prices are OK as so many snowbirds told us. Us – we have a budget, and as much as I don’t like to pull “the immigrant card”, we have no inheritances coming so we do count our money, well I do – Alex not really.

So, we cooked at home a lot – the part I really didn’t get a break from on vacation. Alex promised to cook more and that we will take turns but we all know how that works, and I had no desire to fight about it all the time. Marriage is a compromise, in case you haven’t figured that one yet – you are either naive or haven’t had a couple of kids yet.

Eating healthy in Mexico turned out not that easy but not super hard either. In all fairness, I think it was harder because I had to get used to new products, read ingredients with my limited Spanish and because we felt relaxed. I didn’t find as many healthy familiar foods, but again to be fair Canadian Walmart is horrible for healthy food options as well. Neither good food is cheap in Mexico, not at all. You would think, right, because it is a 3rd world country where people make way less money but food isn’t cheap (however, I think I haven’t shopped where locals shop and Cabo could be not the wealthiest region). And frankly probably not popular as I saw all locals drinking soft drinks, eating bags of chips and street food, literally everyone on the beach. Anyone drinks water around here? When we were poor in Ukraine we had no money for pop, are you kidding me?! So it is a mystery to me why spend money on Coke and not a bunch of bananas…Anyways.

Breakfast

I usually had platters of cut up watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe and honeydew on hand. One of the hockey moms recommended buying already cut fruit in Walmart but again the price vs. how much fruit we eat didn’t work for me. Sure you can, very convenient, but US$1.5 for a 16 oz tub when you can buy a huge watermelon for US$5 is not my style. I rarely pay for the convenience.

Oatmeal (Coach’s oats from Costco) topped with yogurt, fruit and maple pumpkin seeds (from Costco too).

Cottage cheese with fruit, sour cream and pumpkin seeds.

Eggs (from farmers market) and avocado toast.

Cereal, bagels and croissants with cream cheese for kids. To find anything whole wheat or whole grain was nearly impossible in Costco and Walmart. Boys were ecstatic – white bread for breakfast, score! LOL

It was all delicious! I had more than usual dairy products but because I couldn’t find anything else. Dairy here is more delicious than at home, however to find organic is hard. Or to find Greek yogurt that doesn’t contain 15g of added sugar per serving is not possible in Walmart, plain yogurt. I haven’t seen that in ages in Canada – stripping yogurt of its fat and replacing flavour with sugar, such a dinosaur age.

I did miss Orgain protein powder in Costco when we first got in because kids were misbehaving. Darn it but oh well, know it exists.

Lunch

Sandwiches. We were lazy, some days sandwich was thrown in with whatever, pieces of deli meat thrown together and not even cut, sometimes on bread or sometimes on corn tortillas – we had a lot of those. My kids ate their fair share of salami, and me too. We bought canned salmon, boiled eggs and corn, grape tomatoes made an amazing snack.

That time when Alex made me a sandwich with 3 (!) slices of Dave’s Killer Bread, smaller but still 3 of them!

I made soups, whenever I felt like and wasn’t tired (heat is SO exhausting). One time it was curry type with cabbage. Another time it was black bean soup with pozole type corn – very good.

Arugula and quinoa salad. I have never ever tasted such a tasty arugula than from the farmers market in Mexico!

Black bean and papaya salad with a boiled egg.

Sometimes it was dinner leftovers.

We got this fresh salsa at Walmart all the time. Saved a ton of time on chopping and making it.

Dinner

First night we got in late. The restaurant nearby was extremely expensive ($US100) and fridge and pantry almost bare. I found a package of pasta and a jar of tomato sauce in the pantry, then ran to a nearby convenience store and got a package of Oaxaca cheese (extremely popular in Mexico, super tasty), vegetables and a bottle of wine. Voila, pasta dinner with salad for US$20 total, better than $100, right?!

We ate once in the pool restaurant/bar downstairs at all you can eat Mexican buffet. It was good – US$33, again not cheap for Mexico or Canadians.

Once a week we cooked fresh seafood we got from the fish truck on Fridays – scallops, shrimp, swordfish, sea bass and tuna. Here you see scallops, fried cactus (got it chopped from Walmart as a nice meaty side veggie – not bad) and salsa.

Another night I made the best seared tuna I got from the fish truck. So good!

We went out for tacos once. Because it was in a true Mexican neighbourhood, we paid US$28, otherwise it would have been $45.

Another night we went out and I had a grilled octopus – it was delicious.

Last night we splurged on a seafood night at the pool bar because the fridge was empty and we were just so tired of cooking by then.

Remember that purple cauliflower? I cooked it – it was super good!

Turkey burgers and edamame beans (from Costco), salsa, butternut squash and a salad.

Mashed potatoes with salami – had that lazy night too.

Garlic shrimp with brown rice and salad.

Spaghetti with turkey burgers.

And in case you are wondering, wine or beer every day. Yep. Not that much but a glass or two for sure. We are not dessert people but rather a glass of wine with dinner or lunch (on vacation) people. Compared to all “snowbirds” at the resort, we barely drank, seriously. And I still experienced a sense of guilt but now it is gone haha. Back to only on weekends wine we go.

So, that is what we did. Every dinner can’t be amazing unless you are a millionaire or whatever your other luck is, but it is definitely possible to eat more or less clean anywhere.

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4 Comments

  1. Laurel

    Wow! Olena, I think you did pretty well with keeping your cooking healthier, considering you were on vacation, and in country where you didn’t have access to your usual grocery items, prices, and at times, even the ability to decipher the packaging labels!

    And btw, we, as a retired couple, have saved and planned carefully to survive after retirement, but there isn’t any extra, and we’d better not live too long, lol! We had no inheritance either and more than likely our children will not either. Because we’ve planned enough to ‘age in place’. That is, we have se the aside enough money to have in home caregivers so our kids won’t have to worry. It’s completely going to drain our accounts, it we feel worth it for us, and for them. So, I would never purchase pre-cut fruit either! Or have a meal out more than once a month. (Usually with a coupon for a nice place though, we do like good food!)

    I think if I were you, I would be on the fence too, about an all inclusive, or cooking. It’s hard when you have little ones and have to draw lines somewhere! All of that fresh sea food! Yum!

    Welcome back!

    Reply
    • Olena

      You raised 4 kids, Laurel, that is a huge financial investment and many sacrifices. I believe it is not about how much you make but how much you spend, so no pre-cut fruit. Aging in peace and the way you like is a very important piece of a human’s life. I wouldn’t want my kids to sacrifice their lives and take care of me and neither I want to do that. However, in Ukraine this is how it worked – many generations lived together and elderly helped out with children and middle aged cared for elderly. It was tough because there are no retirement homes or care workers due to poverty, and it was hard to live together but middl aged folks didn’t have as much stress as here – juggling mortgage, kids and jobs all on their own.

      Reply
      • Laurel

        My gosh, such very different worlds, yet under some circumstances, different families thousands of miles apart can suffer hunger, and lack having the basics. Even in a modern developed country like ours now. We watched a documentary program called Long Way Round that was filmed in 2004. It’s where two UK motorbikers rode from the U.K, through Central Europe, the Ukraine, Western Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia and Canada, ending in the U.S, where they met with their family after months of missing them. They met some amazing loving generous people, and met some people to be afraid of, and got themselves into a few unsavory and uncomfortable situations. What we took from it was the amount of the world that so cut off still, from modern day society! And hungry! And not educated. No books, some areas, no schools. No freedoms. And so, so, many good, kind people who couldn’t understand a word they said, who had little to share, but share they did. And some of the Russian and Ukrainian people those in the country, skinny little old men and women still carrying water in buckets across their shoulders from a pump far from the tiny house. An old wagon and ‘ribby’ horse tied up. Like living in the 1910’s. Smiling toothless smiles and waving. So enlightening!

        Looking at how undeveloped and poor those countries still are, especially Kazistan, was unreal. So much poor, even in Russia, it felt like the pe

        Reply
        • Olena

          Oh, Laurel, elderly people in poor countries like the one you describe are a scary sight. My dad’s side lived like that, my grandparents. “An old wagon and ‘ribby’ horse tied up. Like living in the 1910’s. Smiling toothless smiles and waving.”- exactly my thoughts. I saw this kind of people in Mexico and I can’t believe they are smiling and waving at us wearing brand names and smelling with money. But they still welcome us – their hearts are HUGE!!! It is mind blowing that in 2017 people still live like 1910, you are right. We are so spoiled here in North America, so spoiled and so many people do not appreciate what they have!
          I would watch this documentary but I think it will make me very sad and there is nothing I can do about it.

          Reply

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