A beginner’s guide to supermarket shopping in Singapore

guide to living in Singapore as an expat
New to Singapore? Missing Woolworths, Waitrose or Walmart? Getting your groceries in Singapore can be mind-boggling at first – don't fill your fridge without our guide to supermarkets in Singapore!

If you’re new to Singapore and are feeling rather bewildered about where to buy your usual fruit and veg, we’ve put together a rookie’s guide to supermarkets in Singapore so that you will know exactly where to shop for everything from Tim Tams and Marmite to organic fruit and fresh meat

NTUC FairPrice and FairPrice Finest: For unexpectedly good organic choices at decent prices

The daddy of Singapore supermarkets with more than 120 outlets, NTUC FairPrice offers great deals and an excellent range. Check out the FairPrice house brands for brilliant value; plus, the supermarket maintains a ‘basket of 500 essential items’ that are kept competitively priced. Its aim is to keep 90 per cent of its Everyday Low Price items the cheapest on the market to moderate the cost of living (and we love tips on how to save money in Singapore).

We’re big fans of the FairPrice Finest stores, where Culina operates the deli and butcher counters, providing delish fresh and cured meats carved on the spot (and the fruits and veg are infinitely fresher). For the Brits among you, look out for Tesco products (UK teabags! Hurrah!). Foodies from Oz: you can even pick up Tetsuya’s Truffle Salsa and Herbie’s Spices at FairPrice Finest! The larger FairPrice Finest branches stock organic produce and groceries – the East Coast Road branch has a particularly impressive range.

NTUC FairPrice, various locations; fairprice.com.sg

Giant: For when you need everything from a carton of milk to the kitchen sink

Giant is all about big savings on bulk buying, and has 61 stores of three distinct types here in Singapore. The six ‘hypermarkets’ are a one-stop shop for groceries, household products, electronics, toys and clothes. Spend $200 in-store and bag yourself free delivery, too. If you just can’t deal with a massive hypermarket, then head to one of its 24 supermarkets where you’ll still get a huge choice of fresh produce and groceries, or else to one of its 26 express stores that are open 24 hours a day for when you run out of milk and butter.

Products are generally no-frills and well-priced (but there are lots of gems too, and good organic produce), which makes Giant a great choice when you are building your cupboard stock from scratch.

Giant, various locations, www.giantonline.com.sg

Cold Storage: For international goodies galore

Head to one of Cold Storage’s stores if you are feeling a tad homesick and in need of a jar of Vegemite, or a packet of Hula Hoops. Cold Storage is renowned among Singapore’s expats for always having a little piece of home on its shelves, even if it is sometimes, uh hum, rather costly. Look out for some of its concept stores that have added extras such as in-house bakeries (its sesame seed bloomer is divine!) and build-your-own-pizza bars.

Cold Storage is not the place to go if you are on a budget (it is impossible to leave there without spending $100 on a basket of nothing you needed!), but it is the place to go for quality air-flown veg and a decent selection of international goodies. Online delivery is available to save you going in-store and buying a basket full of stuff you don’t need…

ATTENTION, SHOPPERS: Waitrose fans: Cold Storage and MarketPlace – see below – stock Waitrose and Duchy Organic products!

Cold Storage, various locations, www.coldstorage.com.sg

Sheng Siong: For budget-savvy shoppers

With 58 stores located primarily in the heartlands of Singapore, Sheng Siong provides both wet and dry goods at reasonable prices. Shop for live, fresh and chilled seafood and well-priced veggies at this supermarket chain, which is a fave with savvy locals. Do not head in expecting to find too many treats from home, but do shop here for cupboard essentials at great prices.

Sheng Siong, various locations, www.shengsiong.com.sg

MarketPlace: For when you’re feeling flush

Pitched as a lifestyle supermarket and a subsidiary of Cold Storage, there are five MarketPlace stores in Singapore that offer top-notch fresh produce, fresh meat and seafood (including unshucked oysters, ooh-er), as well as a really good selection of international bits and bobs. It is very much a slightly upmarket version of Cold Storage, and a little bit more expensive too. Head to Raffles City’s MarketPlace for fresh sarnies, a salad bar and an amazing choice in cheeses if you’re working in the area, and Tanglin Mall for the fab in-house bakery. Warning: the bakery is cash only!

ATTENTION SHOPPERS: The bakery at Tanglin MarketPlace really is amazing: we’ve made special trips there just for the ‘rusti’ bread (not a typo). You’ll also find wholemeal organic pita bread and addictive pain au chocolat!

MarketPlace, located in I12 Katong, Raffles City, Tanglin Mall, Paragon and Hillview Rise, www.coldstorage.com.sg

Meidi-Ya: For when you want to make supermarket shopping a bit of a treat

Meidi-Ya may only have one store here on the Little Red Dot, but what a store it is! It remains the only supermarket here that sells Marmite crisps for starters… Aside from a fab stockpile of goodies from the UK, it also has a huge variety of fresh food imported directly from Japan. High-quality products are par for the course here, but be prepared to part with a fair few $$ when you get to the check-out! Online shopping is also available, which may well be the way to go to prevent being lured into buying treats you don’t really need!

Meidi-Ya, 177 River Valley Road, #B1-50 Liang Court Shopping Centre, Singapore, www.meidi-ya.com.sg

Redmart: For when you can’t be bothered to lug home your shopping

Although Redmart is only available online through Lazada, it is still very much worth a mention and is becoming a hugely popular way to shop here in Singapore. International goodies are abundant and delivery is free if you spend over $60 (easily done!). Even if you still prefer to choose your fresh meat and produce in person, it’s still a great way to shop for all the heavy stuff you don’t fancy lugging back from the supermarket.

Redmart, online only, www.redmart.com

Mustafa: For when you can’t find what you need anywhere else (and for an experience like no other!)

This place is a 24/7 Aladdin’s cave that you will love and hate in equal measures. If there is an item that Mustafa doesn’t sell, then it isn’t worth having anyway. You can literally buy anything from airline tickets to Rolex watches here along with your weekly grocery shopping (which always comes in cheap as chips compared to a lot of other supermarkets). Even if you don’t actually need to buy anything, then this is a place worthy of a visit just for the experience (and you will never, ever leave empty-handed, no matter how strong your resolve). Prepare for stampedes at peak times, but if you can get there when it is less chaotic, you’re sure to get all the grocery essentials you could possibly ever need, along with a new telly, a visa for your holiday to India and some diamond earrings.

Mustafa, 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704, www.mustafa.com.sg

Ryan’s Grocery: For people of all dietary requirements

Ryan’s Grocery only sources high-quality natural food to suit people with specific dietary requirements, including lactose intolerance, gluten-free and nut allergies. If this sounds like you, you need to get this store on your shopping list stat to stock your fridge with organic meats, gluten-free pastas, raw honey and spray-free veggies. We’re a huge fan of their Aussie butchery too, where you can buy some tasty cuts of meat for the barbie.

Ryan’s Grocery, 29 Binjai Park, Singapore 589831, www.ryansgrocery.com

Warehouse Club: For all your bulk-buying needs

Missing Costco? The Warehouse Club is the largest retail format of NTUC and is great for bulk-buying and super-saver discounts. Located in the FairPrice Hub in Joo Koon, it stocks all you’ll ever need for the home, including an impressive range of Kirkland products. A single shop here will have you sorted on groceries and household consumables for the week, maybe even the month. One thing to note: it is a bit of a hassle to get to if you don’t drive, but you can get free delivery with minimum spend of $500. The store is also members only but purchasing a membership is quick, easy and only costs $20 a year. Costco who?

Warehouse Club, FairPrice Hub, Level 3, 1 Joo Koon Circle, Singapore 629117, www.warehouseclub.com.sg

Koryo Mart: For stashing up on Korean snacks

No need to hop on a six-hour flight to grab all your Korean cooking necessities. Koryo Mart stocks an impressive range of food where you can grab all the kimchi, rice cakes, instant rice, and all the Korean snacks and drinks you’ll ever need. Lacking the tools to make your bibimbap? They’ve got that too, complete with metal spoons and chopsticks.

Koryo Mart, various locations, www.koryo.sg

Don Don Donki: For everything from fresh produce to Japanese toys

If you have the patience – the music in here will grate on you very quickly! – head to Don Don Donki for a flurry of Japanese goods. It’s a little bit of an assault on the senses, but you’ll have some happy kiddos at home when you return with all sorts of delicious snacks. The Centrepoint and Clarke Quay branches are open 24 hours, which is perfect if you need a midnight-munchie snack fix.

Don Don Donki, various locations, www.dondondonki.sg

Sri Murugan: For an authentic taste of India

If you don’t have a bevy of Indian relatives flying in spices for you on demand, Sri Murugan is your next best bet. This Indian supermarket stocks a huge range of fresh veggies, spices and Indian and international groceries at reasonable prices. There’s stores dotted all around the island or shop from home with Sri Murugan’s shopping app and get your groceries delivered to your home.

Sri Murugan, various locations, www.srimurugantrading.com

Mahota Market: Shop while you wait for your food

Newly opened in Century Square with a branch in Kitchener Complex too, this hybrid resto-grocery store lets you order your food at the entrance and shop for groceries while you wait. Wind down after your shop with a healthy meal and get to see just how tasty its produce is. Great for a quick shop in the Tampines area. Did we mention they do subscription boxes for fruit, veg, juice cleanses and even cheese?

Mahota Market, Kitchener Complex, Level 3, 809 French Road, Singapore 200809 and 2 Tampines Central 5 #B1-07, Century Square, Singapore 529509, www.mahota.sg

HaoMart: Heartland convenience

With more than 45 outlets around town, you’ll spot HaoMarts in heartland HDBs. Competitively priced, HaoMarts are a mix of convenience store and groceries. Look out for HaoHalalHub, mini marts that stock Halal-only products and groceries.

HaoMart, various locations, www.haomart.com.sg

Shine Korea: Get your Korean food fix

For more Korean groceries, head to one of Shine Korea’s 10 outlets around town. All products are imported from Korea, including snacks and seaweed, instant rice and noodle dishes, condiments, beverages and more. Alternatively, you could shop online: Shine Korea offers free delivery when you spend $80 or more.

Shine Korea, various locations, www.shinekorea.com.sg

Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy:

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