I stumbled upon this post by Bat Aliyah and would like to share it with you. You can read the full post and comments here: I only copied the section related to food and shopping.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2011
Rivkah’s Random Klita Tips
Now that we’ve been here a year, I find myself dispensing tidbits of information to even newer olim. So I started to think, what if I were to write down all my tips, or as many as I can recall, and let others add to the list? These are things I had to learn, either the hard way, or from people who have been here longer than we have. As Ruti Mizrachi always says, “Don’t thank me. I’m a giver.” But please do use the comments section to add your helpful tips.
Mostly, these appear in no particular order, though I’ve divided the tips into those that are generally true in Israel (especially in the Jerusalem area) and those that are specific to my community of Ma’ale Adumim.General Tips in Israel (mostly in the Jerusalem area)The thickest grocery brand of napkins is sano sushi. After a number of disappointing purchases of Nikol brand, we now always buy sano sushi white napkins in the double pack.Unlike table napkins, every brand of Shabbat toilet paper we’ve ever bought is pretty much the same quality, so it’s fine to buy the cheapest one.We always buy Molett brand toilet paper and facial tissues. We find them the closest to what we are used to. Ironically, although economy size packaging hasn’t really caught on in Israel, toilet paper is sold in giant packs. The one we always buy has 48 rolls.
Sale price signs on grocery store shelves generally list the last four numbers of the UPC code for the products that are actually included in the sale price.
It took me months to figure out the trash bag situation. Trash cans are marked in liters and bags are marked in cm, so there’s no natural match. Our 50 liter trash can is slightly smaller than a standard 13 gallon kitchen trash can in the US. The correct size bags are 75x90cm. We buy Nikol brand orange liners (though different brands may vary by a few cm). They are much thinner than what we were used to, but they do the job.
If you’re looking for an American grocery item, the most likely places in the Jerusalem area are CheaperKol on Kanfei Nesharim in Givat Shaul, SuperDeal in Talpiot (which also has excellent prices), Chofetz Chaim on Aggripas (butcher shop with American-style deli plus some grocery items) or the local makolet in a neighborhood where a lot of former Americans live. Meatland in Ra’anana is also a good source.
Grocery stores in Israel deliver. Some will deliver for free if your order is large enough. But even if you have to pay, the delivery charges range from 10 to about 25 NIS. Some stores charge more for deliveries closer to Shabbat and less for deliveries earlier in the week.
Grocery stores have limited selections of spices. But the Machane Yehuda shuk has a few really excellent spice shops and you can buy more exotic or hard-to-find spices there.
It is possible to buy Philadelphia brand cream cheese here but it’s very expensive. Tnuva Napoleon is the most like whipped American cream cheese. It comes in a few varieties in a 225 gram tub. The plain variety has a daisy on the package.
Dairy products generally list the percentage of fat on the label.
Meat is sold by numbers and not by cuts. For example, brisket is #3. There is a diagram of a cow divided into numbers, but unless you happen to know which part of the cow your favorite cut comes from and if
this description doesn’t help you, you’ll have to ask a neighbor or a butcher for help.
For cholent meat, ask for basar chamim which comes boneless and pre-cut into chunks.
Chop meat is much cheaper frozen than fresh.
Rami Levi often sells whole chickens for a few shekels a kilo on Thursdays. My husband hasn’t quite mastered cutting a whole chicken into 1/8s, but he’s definitely got the wings and legs down.
Some stores (Rami Levy for sure) have “shuk day” early in the week when selected vegetables are just 1 NIS/kilo. This is generally Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday.
Grocery stores in Israel are tiered. This is not a comprehensive list of all grocery stores, but it will give you an idea of how things work:
Stores that cater to haredi customers (e.g. Yesh, Shefa Shuk, Osher Ad in Givat Shaul and Sha’arei Ezra in Romema)
Although we shop in other places too, our major weekly shopping is done at Rami Levy. Their prices are routinely very competitive and the owner of the company is a mensch.
Many chain stores, especially grocery stores, offer their own cartis mo’adon. It’s what we used to call a frequent shopper or bonus card. Some of them are free and give you access to in-store special prices. But some are actually credit cards which may be free for the first year, but then cost around 15 NIS a month. The first thing the cashier will ask you in a store that has one is, “Cartis mo’adon?”
Another question cashiers often ask is if you want to buy any of the specials that are available at the register. There are generally 5-6 sale items that are pictured right on the shelf where you sign your receipt.
After your groceries have been totaled, the cashier will also ask you how many payments you want your total to be divided into. So if cash flow is a problem, you can arrange to pay in November for groceries that you ate in September.
Credit cards in Israel are somewhat like a cross between an American credit card and a debit card. Your bank will give you a monthly credit limit. As you charge things throughout the month, your available balance is reduced by the amount you’ve charged. Then, once a month, your bank will deduct your credit card balance from your bank account and your available balance resets to zero.
Produce, meat and bulk foods are weighed in kilos. A kilo is 2.2 pounds. So half a kilo (500 grams) is approximately a pound and a quarter kilo is approximately half a pound.