Inflation and high prices continue to be big news around the world. But during our nearly six months in India, we’ve had little to complain about. In fact, our records show we eat for under $15 per day for 2 persons – including many restaurant meals.
Food prices in India are incredibly affordable for slow budget travelers. Unlike the shock we felt when my Mom, Diane, met us in New Delhi last month and related that eggs were selling for $5 to $10 per dozen in America!
Eggs here in northern India? We paid $3 (240 rupees) for a tray of 30 large this week. A couple months ago 15 medium eggs cost 100 rupees – $1.25, far to the south. Very reasonable. No bird flus or shortages.
The egg story got me thinking about general food costs during the 170 days we’ve been in this Asian nation. Plus, it’s been a while since we published a ‘food price’ report.
We like to provide such ‘boots on the ground’ information so readers can better understand the true expenses of slow travel and ‘living like a local’ overseas. Curious about food costs in India? Read on.
Food prices in India for slow budget travelers
First: Grocery prices
During our India visit, we’ve been to six Indian states and had 17 different Airbnb rentals – most all with kitchens. We’ve been in plenty of grocery stores nationwide.
The photos below are some purchases and the receipt from a decent, modern, medium-sized supermarket in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The Indian Rupee has traded at about 80 per US dollar ever since our arrival in September 2022.
Amongst the prices shown; 100 Tetley tea bags ~ $2.30, a pound of Del Monte pasta ~ $1, pasta sauce ~ $1.25, basic cheddar/mozzarella cheese ~ $5.50 per lb., 250ml imported Spanish olive oil ~ $2.85, half-kilo of almonds ~ $4.20.
A closer look at grocery prices in India
Many items are bought at smaller shops, markets, and stalls. Of course we know the exact prices because we record every penny we spend every day. More examples below with prices converted to US funds and measures.
More grocery examples:
Tomatoes~ 40 rupees per kilo = under 25 cents per pound
Cucumbers/Green peppers~ 60 rupees per kilo = less than 35 cents lb.
Bananas~ 80 rupees per kilo = 50 cents per pound
Oranges~ 60 rupees per kilo = 35 cents per pound
Apples~ 100 rupees per kilo = 60 cents per pound
Can of Diet Coke/soda: 35-60 rupees = 42 to 75 cents (store/resto)
Bottled water: 1 liter ~ 20 rupees = 25 cents
Box of 100 facial tissues: 80 rupees = $1
1 Roll of toilet paper: 50 rupees = 62 cents
Loaf of bread: 70-100 rupees = 85 cents to $1.25
Packaged cookies 1 lb.~ 80-150 rupees = $1 to $1.80
Peanut Butter (store brand): 1 lb.~ 220 rupees = $2.75
Good Gouda/Edam/Swiss cheese: 700+ rupees per lb. = $8.75 & up
Milk: tetrapak liter = 90 cents / Fresh 500ml plastic bag = 40 cents
Medium Bar of safeguard soap: 50 rupees = 62 cents
Head n’ Soulders shampoo: 180ml ~ 200 rupees = $2.50
Cans of 500ml beer: 125 to 170 rupees each = $1.55 to $2.10
Can of tuna in water/oil: 160 to 200 rupees = $2 to $2.50
Food prices in India: Meat
Finding canned tuna or any kind of meat can be difficult around India. Vegetarian is the norm for the 84% Hindu population. Groceries never carry fresh meat. Muslim neighborhoods have small, basic ‘old-school’ butchers. Your meat might be cut on a wood stump from a carcass that hangs on a hook. Chickens are often killed upon order.
Meat prices in restaurants
Still, India is well-known for chicken tika and tandoori chicken (clay oven BBQ). We’ve sometimes bought whole roasted chickens for take away. The price: 260 to 380 rupees ($3.20-$4.90). A whole bird will last two or thee meals in the fridge. I’ve also recently had some tasty chicken wings at restaurants. Price per piece ranged from 45 to 65 US cents.
Shredded chicken is also common in ‘Biryani’ – an Indian spiced rice dish equally popular as veg only. Biryani prices vary, from street stalls at $1 a plate or $2 per kilo, to $5 to $8 for a shareable portion at nicer restaurants.
Food prices in India: more restaurant examples
Naturally, we eat so much traditional Indian food that we sometimes seek out Italian or Israeli or Thai or Mexican if available. Those plates are mostly similar in price to our Indian favorites — curries/masalas, dal, paneer (cooked cottage cheese), are usually 250-500 rupees ($3.20-$6.50) at most sit-down restaurants. Rice is usually NOT included: $1-$1.50 extra.
Lighter fare at even lower prices are common, too. Momos (veg dumplings), Thali, vegetable salads, and Chinese style veg fried rice or noodles are on most menus and street stalls for around $2 per order. Indian flatbreads are common and cheap: chapati/roti 20-25 cents each, dosa/naan 60 cents-$1. Tea/chai is 15-30 rupees — 20-40 cents.
Most Indian dishes we’ve had were terrific. But like everywhere, quality and portion size vary by establishment. Our only occasional complaints are too much oil/ghee/butter, or too spicy.
American fast food in India
Pizza is another common and reliable food found all over India. We probably have pizza two or three times each month. A decent large pizza (14-inch) with veg toppings usually costs $5 to $7. Crummy frozen options can be had for $2-$3. And Dominos is available nationwide in India. We tried it once – fair taste; 1 large thin crust veg. =$8.20, and 1 medium original crust chicken =$4.75.
Speaking of American food brands; McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Subway can all be found around India – but in very few numbers compared to the US. In our nearly six months we’ve been to McD’s, KFC, BK, and Taco Bell once each. And yes, Starbucks – with American prices – are present in the big Indian cities.
American fast food prices are high for Indian wallets – but they do have ‘value menu’ items for under $1. The restaurants and menu boards look similar to America, but the food taste? Meh. Not quite right. The best was probably a mutton (goat) Whopper combo for 450 rupees ($5.60).
Gas prices in India
Finally, the other ongoing worldwide cost concern – the price of gasoline. Honestly, I have not paid close attention in India. But I snapped the photo above last week. As shown, 100 rupees got 1.11 liters of diesel. That works out to a little less than $5 per gallon.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!