Comparing the Cost of Groceries

A few weeks ago, a fellow Canadian living in the Netherlands and I got into a bit of a debate about the cost of groceries in the Netherlands. My feeling was that grocery shopping was significantly cheaper here than in Canada, where her experience was the opposite. So I decided to do a comparison of the cost of groceries between the Netherlands and Canada. It bears noting that what we are buying does differ quite a bit: she’s vegan where I am buying meat and dairy to feed a Dutch man.

Not surprisingly, there’s a website for comparing the cost of living in nearly any country: Numbeo. According to that website, at a national level, groceries prices in the Netherlands are 10.55% lower than in Canada. It seems as though there may be a lack of data for our small town since it’s all self-reported, but, it’s a starting point.

Comparing Costs of Groceries

Now for most people, finding data on the internet would be enough, but I decided I wanted to see whether the prices at my local, small town grocery store and one near my parent’s house in a similarly sized town matched the national data. The table below shows my findings with exchange rates calculated on January 7, 2016.

Item Canada Netherlands Difference
1L milk $2.99 €1,93 $1.35  €0,87  -€1,06
loaf of white bread $2.00 €1,29 $3.48  €2,25  €0,96
1kg white rice $2.50 €1,62 $2.79   €1,80  €0,18
12 eggs $2.79 €1,80 $3.88  €2,51  €0,71
1kg local cheese $33.30 €21,52 $20.43  €13,20  €-8,32
1kg chicken breast $17.61 €11,38 $12,38  €8,00 -€3,38
1kg beef round $18.72 €12,10 $23.22  €15,00 €2,90
1kg apples $3.95  €2,55 $3.10  €2,00 -€0,55
1kg bananas $1.74 €1,12 $2.93  €1,89  €0,77
1kg oranges $2.18  €1,41 $2.17  €1,40  -€0,01
1kg tomato $6.59  €4,26 $3.99  €2,58  -€1,68
1kg potato $2.84  €1,83 $2.79   €1,80  -€0,03
1kg onion $1.99  €1,29 $2.15   €1,39  €0.1
1 head lettuce $3.49  €2,25 $1.69  €1,09 -€1,16
1.5L water $1.70 €1,10 $1.24  €0,80  -0,30

My data seems to show that the prices of most grocery items are quite similar, except in the meat and dairy products, which are generally cheaper in the Netherlands. No wonder my friend didn’t see the price difference that RB and I did!

Advantage: Canada – Multiculturalism

Advantage Canada: Multiculturalism

Canadian multiculturalism isn’t just a beautiful idea, it’s the law! It was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy in 1971.

The Government of Canada puts it well (albeit dryly):

“All Canadians are guaranteed equality before the law and equality of opportunity regardless of their origins. Canada’s laws and policies recognise Canada’s diversity by race, cultural heritage, ethnicity, religion, ancestry and place of origin and guarantee to all men and women complete freedom of conscience, of thought, belief, opinion expression, association and peaceful assembly. All of these rights, our freedom and our dignity, are guaranteed through our Canadian citizenship, our Canadian Constitution, and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Like in many other countries, immigrants to Canada tend to settle in the same neighbourhoods as their former countrymen and women. As a recent immigrant, I can completely understand this! There’s so much newness when you immigrate, it’s nice to have a few things that aren’t completely foreign around you. Unlike elsewhere in the world, however, immigrants to Canada actively take part in their new society. This tends to lead immigrants to Canada to achieve high levels of economic success, education and social integration. That also means that Canadians of all stripes tend to see immigration as a positive thing. Yay multiculturalism!

Canadians live by a set of values and beliefs which are open to a wide variety of cultural expressions and do not demand strict integration. What is asked of from immigrants is the same as is asked of all Canadians: respect for Canadian laws and institutions, acceptance of other cultures and participation in society.

It’s not much of a surprise, then, that immigrants to Canada tend to adopt “traditional” Canadian attitudes with their own cultural spin. My favourite example of this is Hockey Night in Canada that is broadcast not only in Canada’s official languages of French and English but also in Punjabi!

I’m not saying that the system is perfect. Like any rule, there is always an exception. But I think it’s a great example of how welcoming people from a wide variety of backgrounds can make a society even better.

Curious what else I think is great about the Canada? Check out my full list of Advantage: Canada posts.

A night of painting fun

I have a number of friends who’ve recently posted pictures of themselves in painting smocks showing work that they’ve done at an adult paint evening, and I was intrigued. So when a good friend suggested going to one when I was back in Canada, I was all for it!

2015-09 Paint Nite

I was a bit late arriving, but thankfully they were also a bit late starting and my friends has saved me a seat.

2015-09 Paint Nite

Once the artist and her assistant were finished distributing paint to everyone, they showed us the exemplar of what we would be making, a monochromatic lake scene.

2015-09 Paint Nite

The instructions were easy to follow, and we had a great time watching our canvases develop.

2015-09 Paint Nite

2015-09 Paint Nite

Near the end we were supposed to add some birds flying, but I was very unhappy with how mine turned out, so I painted over top of them and blended in with the sky! Good decision for me!

One thing that stuck me as great about this event was that even though we were all given the same instructions, everyone’s pairing was just a little bit different!

2015-09 Paint Nite

Now the big question is, where do I hang this beauty up?!

2015-09 Paint Nite

Cottage Weekend

In August, I wrote about how cottages are one of the great things about Canada. When planning my last trip back, I was happy to be able to attend the wedding of some very good friends as well as spend the weekend at a cottage that I’ve been going to with my university friends since the year 2000! A lot has changed since then.

For starters, digital cameras were uncommon, so the first group picture that I’ve been able to wrangle is from 2004…

2004 - Frec Weekend Group
2004
2005 - Frec Weekend Group
2005

Skip forward 7 years, and there seem to be kids running around everywhere!

2012 - Frec Weekend Group
2012
2014 - Frec Weekend Group
2014

And finally this year’s crowd. It’s a bit smaller than in previous years, but that just made it cozier!

2015-09 Frec Weekend
2015

This year, like most others, we spent relaxing by the water. The kids enjoyed catching minows and paddling in the new kayak.

2015-09 Frec Weekend

2015-09 Frec Weekend

I built a flower bed of dirt and acorns with this little nugget!

2015-09 Frec Weekend

On Sunday night, we had a fun fireworks show, and there were a bunch of paper lanterns for the kids to set off.

2015-09 Frec Weekend

There were a few left for the newlyweds too.

2015-09 Frec Weekend

I know that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to get back for this weekend every year, but I am already looking forward to the time when I can make it back.

A wedding at the Jays game!

2 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the very first ever wedding held at the Sky Dome Rogers Centre! We all arrived early to the game, and the ceremony was held in the stands before the game.

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

The event caught the attention of a few of the staff who decided to come and watch!

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

The ceremony itself was short and hard to hear, because the usual music and such were still going on in the stadium. It didn’t matter to me, though, because the bride and groom were so expressive (and I’ve been to enough weddings!) that I didn’t need to hear.

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

The wedding party was decked out in Jay’s jerseys and jeans – my kind of event!

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

A few of my friends were creative with their signs.

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

But that didn’t help them get on the Jumbotron 🙁

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

The game itself was INCREDIBLE, and included a grand slam and hat trick, and the good guys winning 15 to 1! You can read more about it on covers.com if you like, I’m not going to attempt to be a sports writer.

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

After the game we headed to The Sultan’s Tent for some yummy Moroccan food and a bit of entertainment.

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

After dinner, we headed to CC Lounge for some drinks and dancing. It features a lot of whiskeys and we had a short tour of their ‘cellar’. I’m not much of a whiskey connoisseur, but I understand it was quite the collection!

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

The lounge also featured a giant birdcage where the bride and groom also shared their first dance as husband and wife.

2015-08 Luke + Zoe

It is worth mentioning that the bride is one of my oldest friends – she was one of the very first people I met when I arrived at university so many years ago!

2015-08-29 Luke + Zoe

It was a lovely day, and I was happy to celebrate with such wonderful people.

Advantage: Canada – Cottage Life

There is nothing quite like packing up your car, struggling through the traffic, and spending a (long) weekend at a cottage! It’s one of the great things about living in southern Ontario, and something I’ve been doing for nearly all of my life.

Lyndsey Cottage4
On the dock in Rondeau

My earliest cottaging experiences were at my mom’s family’s cottage in Rondeau Provincial Park, where we would windsurf, waterski, play croquet and tennis, and go for long nature walks in the park. While my later cottage experiences have been in different areas of the province, including Perth, Kinmount, Apsley, and Huntsville, the feeling is still the same: relaxation, good food, friends and fun! My favourite things about cottaging include: BBQ (more about this in another Advantage: Canada post, that’s for sure!)

2015-05-23 Toronto Trip
RB and RS working the bbq during our trip to the GTA

Getting so hot it’s necessary to jump in the water for a swim

2007 - Frec Weekend
One of the coolest pictures anyone ever took of me. Credit to my friend Jen!

Going for boat rides

Matt's Cottage 335
Heading out for a cruise along Long lake

Water sports

2005 - Wakeboarding
My first (and only) attempt at a tantrum on my wakeboard
DSCN0266
Wakesurfing

Nature walks

2015-05-23 Toronto Trip
On a hike between Anstruther Lake and Rathburn Lake in the Kawartha Islands Provincial Park

Games

2007 - Frec Weekend
Cups (or Fricket, apparently!)
Matt's Cottage 172
Jenga
ringers3
Ringers
Settlers
Settlers of Catan

Building a giant floating island

The Island
There’s nothing quite like swimming out to the middle of the lake to hang out

Sitting by the water and reading

img_1244
I couldn’t find any reading photos, so this is a beautiful one by Glenn Buckholtz

What’s your favourite thing about cottaging?

A Hike on the Bruce Trail

When I was back in Canada, I told my mom how much I’d enjoyed RB and my hike in the Jura mountains, and being the great idea person she is, she suggested we go for a hike on part of the nearby Bruce Trail by the Forks of the Credit.

2015-07 Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. It includes more than 890 km of main trail and over 400 km of side trails, and runs along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls to Tobermory. The main trail is marked by white blazes, and side trails are marked by blue blazes.

2015-07 Bruce Trail
Main Bruce Trail Blazes

I once again brought my garmin watch to record the trip.

2015-07 Bruce Trail

We parked the car on the side of the road in Brimstone, where it was obvious there were other hikers and fishers parked, and started on our way up the road to the head of the trail. Along the route, we passed over one of the forks in the credit river.

2015-07 Bruce Trail
Forks of the Credit

After passing through the small community of Brimstone, we got onto the trail, then immediately turned right onto a side-trail that seemed to go straight up!

2015-07 Bruce Trail

About halfway through our walk, we came to a Stile marking the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, though none of us were sure whether we were leaving or arriving in the park! I’m inclined to think that we were arriving.

2015-07 Bruce Trail

2015-07 Bruce Trail

We passed through some amazing and varied landscapes.

2015-07 Bruce Trail
Forest
2015-07 Bruce Trail
Meadow
2015-07 Bruce Trail
Credit River

2015-07 Bruce Trail

My dad, who loves taking pictures, asked about some of the settings on my camera. So naturally I had to play around to see if I could do what he was suggesting. It took a few (read: lots) tries, but I finally made it work!

2015-07 Bruce Trail

While I may never walk the whole Bruce trail, I would certainly like to see more of it. Especially when it’s so accessible to my parents’ house!

Introducing Cali

Seven weeks ago, a very special person came into the world; my niece Cali Bernice.

2015-05 Cali
Ms. Cali Bernice

My sister was brave enough to let me be in the delivery room with her, and I can’t begin to express how grateful I was for the experience and how in  awe I am about how amazing the human (female) body is!

2015-05 Cali
Proud Auntie!

We had a small get together with friends and family to introduce Cali just before I left, and it was lovely to see everyone.

Cali

It`s been hard to be away from her, but my sister has been fantastic at keeping me updated and sending and instagramming lots of photos so I can see her grow!

Cali

Cali

Cali

Cali

Cali

We’ve had one skype date to celebrate my sister’s birthday, and Cali managed to tear herself away from the mirror to look at the iPad we were talking on! Sorry for the crazed look on my face, but I was REALLY excited!

Cali

Best of all,  I am on my way to go see her, and the rest of my family and friends, today!

Snakes & Lattes

First, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Canada Day!

When I was visiting Toronto in May, my very good friend, T, who you might remember from our trip to Peru, suggested we go to Snakes & Lattes for dinner and some board games, and it was a fabulous suggestion! Sadly, I had to change the date at the last minute, so it was no longer a double date but a nice visit with her, RB and I.

The menu was small but the food I ordered was delicious. And they have about a thousand board games, varying in difficulty from easy to extreme, to choose from. The best part, in my opinion, is that they have game experts who come around and give you the run down of how to play. That way, if you want to play something you haven`t played before, you don`t have to sit for hours reading the rule book!

We choose to learn how to play Ra, an auction and set-collection game with an Ancient Egyptian theme. I quite enjoyed it!

2015-05-23 Snakes & Lattes

2015-05-23 Snakes & Lattes

T then convinced RB that we should play Agricola, a games that T and I played for hours on end. T is a fantastic strategist, and I was nervous about the setup for Agricola, but RB said he enjoyed it, though it was a bit overwhelming.

2015-05-23 Snakes & Lattes

2015-05-23 Snakes & Lattes

 

I will definitely be making plans to go back again when I`m back in Toronto!