In Bolivia, food is relatively cheap if you compare it with the income in a first-world country. With less than $100 a month, a common Bolivian can get all the food that he needs, with great quality and all the necessary nutrients. Nevertheless, some specialist restaurants and tourist places will charge a lot more for the meals they serve.
The average Bolivian spends ~$70/month on food and groceries. A common meal can cost around $3, a breakfast around $2, and a dessert around $1. Tourists spend much more on food than natives, with an avg. of $15/meal, $25/day, or $750/month. This is because tourist places charge a lot more to foreigners.
We are people from Bolivia that have spent all their lives living here, so we can give you all the details about how much food and groceries really cost in this country. Also, how much tourist places and restaurants charge foreigners when they come to visit Bolivia. Finally, you’ll get some tips to save money when you’re buying food and groceries in our country, in the next lines.
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The real cost of food in Bolivia
Most people living in Bolivia will be able to cover all their food expenses with around $70 per month, and the quality of this food will go from decent to high. Generally, restaurants with good services and quality food will rarely go over $4/meal in prices.
A different story is for tourists that came to Bolivia, as they don’t know too much about this country and where to eat, they normally only go to tourist places where food costs are very high compared with the rest of the country. In these tourist places, you’ll find that the average meal will be in general around $15, and that is 5 times the normal food price in this country!
|Type of cost||Avg. spending in Bolivia (1 ppl.)|
|Food and beverages (per month)||$70|
|Common fast food meal||$5|
|Exclusive restaurant meal||$7|
Then, either if you are coming to live in Bolivia or just for tourism purposes and want to save money, you can go to well-known restaurants in the downtown of major cities or just buy your groceries in supermarkets and cook them by yourself. You’ll save a lot of money by just doing this, getting in most cases an average $4 cost per meal, and not $20 like many tourists normally pay here.
Remember not to eat in whatever place or restaurant you find here in Bolivia, you should go only to a) tourist places, b) big restaurants in downtowns of major cities, and c) hotel restaurants. With this, you’ll avoid associated risks with unhealthy food that some bad restaurants here struggle with.
Pricing list for food and groceries in Bolivia
In the following table, you’ll find the detailed prices for different kinds of food currently available in Bolivia. You’ll get these prices no matter whether you are buying at open markets or supermarkets (with around 20% overpricing in supermarkets). These prices are average for Bolivians that live in this country.
|Type of food||Average cost (2022 – 2023)|
|Water (bottle of 2 liters)||$1.00|
|Milk (1 liter)||$0.50|
|Bread (1 serving 100 gr)||$0.07|
|Rice (1 pound)||$0.50|
|Eggs (1 unit)||$0.11|
|Cheese (1 pound)||$2.00|
|Chicken meat (1 pound)||$1.43|
|Red meat (1 pound)||$4.29|
|Apples (1 unit)||$0.21|
|Bananas (1 unit)||$0.04|
|Oranges (1 unit)||$0.07|
|Tomatoes (1 pound)||$0.43|
|Potatoes (1 pound)||$0.29|
|Onions (1 pound)||$0.36|
|Carrots (1 pound)||$0.36|
|Lettuce (1 unit)||$0.57|
|Fruit juice (1 serving 1/4 liter)||$1.14|
|Cookies (1 bag 500 gr)||$0.71|
|Cola (1 serving 1/4 liter)||$0.14|
|Beer (1 serving 1/4 liter)||$0.57|
|Restaurant full meal (1 person)||$2.86|
|Delivered full meal (1 person)||$5.00|
|Burger King hamburger (1 serving)||$4.29|
|Subway Sandwich (1 serving)||$2.86|
|Household assistant (1 month)||$500.00|
Most Bolivians normally buy their groceries in open street markets, but high-income Bolivians are most accustomed to buying their groceries in chain supermarkets. As we just said, you should find almost the same prices in both places, with some little overpricing in supermarkets.
As you can see, for just $1 in Bolivia you can get one of the following combos:
- 2 liters of bottled water
- 2 liters of pasteurized branded milk
- 9 eggs
- 13 oranges
- 5 apples
- 30 bananas
- And so on.
Also, with $1.5 you can obtain a decent breakfast, and with $3 a decent full meal in Bolivia. To get these prices you need to be comfortable and used to living here in the country, eventually, after living a while here you’ll find the right open markets and supermarkets from where to buy.
If you are a tourist, in most cases, you’ll find just more comfortable buying overpriced food and meals within tourist places, with a 5x to 7X increase in price, as these places will guarantee you the best food quality, food experience, and also a lot of variation and native meals to delight your taste.
Different Bolivian incomes and the cost of food
The food expenses in Bolivia can vary a lot depending on the level of income of Bolivian people. In the case of expats, they mostly will behave like high-income Bolivian citizens, and accordingly will spend the same amount of money when buying their groceries.
|Lower-class Bolivian||Middle-class Bolivian||Upper-class Bolivian|
|Avg. food expenses / Month||$45||$120||$750|
|Avg. food expenses / Day||$1.50||$4||$5|
Low-income people in Bolivia save as much as possible on food. They in many cases buy their groceries at wholesale prices directly from producers, never buy in supermarkets, and get huge discounts with open market sellers that they know from years ago, among other strategies.
As a result of this, they usually spend as little as $45 per month per person (50% less than the average) on food expenses. They also only get meals that are $2 on average in restaurants that they know very well and where they can get important discounts.
On the other hand, people with high incomes here almost never buy from open markets and only from supermarkets or chain grocery stores. Also, they eat in costly restaurants, spending around $5 per meal. Middle-income people in this country normally combine their strategies by buying some groceries in dedicated stores, but the rest of these are in open markets.
Tourists and the cost of food
If you’re a tourist that doesn’t know anything about eating in Bolivia, you’ll pay a lot for food, tourist restaurants, and places will take advantage of this and will charge you around $20 to $30 per meal as if you were in a first-world country. This cost is prohibitive for Bolivians and has no sense for most of us.
But of course, for you as a tourist, it may be the best situation, because tourist places and companies here will give you the best quality food, and also a lot of variety in native dishes that you won’t find easily elsewhere.
In the next table, you can find the average food prices for different tourist places and restaurants where you can eat in Bolivia.
|Type of food expense||Average cost (1 tourist)|
|Tourist avg. expense day||$25|
|Tourist avg. expense/month||$750|
|Hostel 1 meal||$3|
|1-star hotel 1 meal||$3.50|
|3-star hotel 1 meal||$7|
|5-star hotel 1 meal||$17|
|Normal restaurant 1 meal||$3|
|Tourist restaurant 1 meal||$15|
|Exclusive restaurant meal||$7|
|Fast food 1 meal||$5|
|In a major Bolivian city 1 meal||$3|
|In a town in Bolivia 1 meal||$5|
|In rural tourist areas 1 meal||$10|
It’s up to you to just be very comfortable and spend this amount of money in tourist places or save some money by going to common restaurants available in major cities of Bolivia and getting the meals of your day. As we say, remember to only go to large and well-known restaurants in downtowns of the major cities of Bolivia to avoid unhealthy food and dirty places.
Comparing the cost of food in Bolivia versus other countries
The cost of food in Bolivia is very cheap if you compare it with other countries, most lower to middle-class Bolivians will be quite fine with just spending around $70 per month and with this amount of money, you’ll get very healthy food, which will include vegetables, fruits, cereals, meat, and other critical groceries.
People with high incomes in Bolivia will try to get the best food, no matter whether it’s healthy or fast food, and it will cost in most cases twice as much as food for Bolivians who have an average income. Most expats living in Bolivia will have the same behavior as high-income people, spending around $150 to $250 in food each month to get the best of the best in meals and groceries.
As you can see, food in Bolivia is relatively cheap compared to other countries, but if you compare it with the average wage here, which is around $400, you’ll realize that indeed it represents a big part of this income, being ~17% of the total. Anyway, a foreigner from a first-tier country shouldn’t have any trouble covering his food expenses in Bolivia.
It’s also worth mentioning that food expenses in Bolivia are significantly more expensive than in India, as much as twice as costly.
|Avg. food expenses / Month||$70||$120||$660||$370||$210||$45|
|Avg. food expenses / Day||$2.40||$4||$22||$12||$7||$1.50|
In this detailed guide about how much food costs in Bolivia, you’ve learned that with around $70, an average Bolivian can get all the food that he needs for a month, also, that an expat living here can get the best of the best in regards to food, meals, and groceries for around $150-$200/ month per person.
You’ve also realized that tourists normally pay much more than normal people for food here in Bolivia, as they tend to eat in tourist places and restaurants that charge a lot more. But many times it can be worthwhile, as you can feel very comfortable with the safety and variety of dishes and meals that you can get in those places. An average tourist will pay around $15 per meal.
On the other hand, you have to realize that if you go to big, well-known restaurants in the downtown of major cities of Bolivia, you can get great food for only around $3 to $5 a meal. Be always careful to not go to other places to eat. Finally, you have known that after a while of living here in Bolivia, you’ll be able to find really cheap prices for food in supermarkets and open grocery markets.
We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to get a whole picture of how much is really the cost of living in Bolivia, visit our dedicated guide in the following direction: The cost of living in Bolivia, all the details you need to know.
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