Let me tell you: going to a Chinese supermarket is never boring! And this comes from someone who normally hates grocery shopping! You always stumble upon interesting products. Food you've never seen before, food you have no idea what is, food you just put in the basket and try not to think about the heavy metal it might contain :-) You tend to think that western chains such as Walmart, Carrefour and Auchan are like in Europe/the US. But this is China and the big chains adapt to the market and culture here. And that's what makes it fun and interesting to browse those stores too!
But being in Beijing with 3 kids and wanting to "soften" the initial impact of living in China, we also try to buy "western" products here. The good news is that you can get almost anything. The bad news is the price! If you thought everything was cheap in China, think again.
As soon as a product here is imported... ka-ching!!
Examples (in order of priority):
Wine!! Guests that come to visit us in China should know right now that you have to pay for your stay in wine :-) for example: a normal, average Bordeaux wine that will cost you 6-7 euros in Europe will cost you around 150 - 200 rmb (20-30 euros!)
Cheese: probably one of the saddest discoveries for someone like me who loves cheese. To give you an example, a (small) piece of parmesan cheese costs around 70 rmb (10 euros). And for a part Italian family like us, Wisconsin wannabe parmesan cheese doesn't do the trick!
Milk: a liter of fresh (Chinese) milk will cost you around 30 rmb (4,5 Euros) compared to around 1,5 Euro in Europe. There are decent UHT brands (we buy the German or Australian ones) for around 12-15 rmb.
Beef: while pork and chicken come at reasonable prices, beef is very expensive! Check out the photo below!
Frozen pizzas; around 50 rmb a piece (7 euros!) You think twice before stocking up on them for the teenagers!
Fruit: imported fruit such as apples costs a lot! Generally over 1 euro per apple (although it can be found cheaper at the market!).
Flour: a 2 kilo bag of flour costs around 50-60 rmb (7-8 euros).
On a more positive note, some things are cheap! Examples are: Soft drinks, local fresh vegetables, fresh made local (sweet) bread and buns and dumplings.
It is also relatively cheap to go to chinese local supermarkets but it can sometimes be difficult to find what you're looking for. Especially because all labels are in Chinese.
Over all, the cost of living here is much higher than we expected and we believe that, if you avoid western restaurants and cafés, it would be cheaper to eat out every night than to cook. So I don't think I'll bother anymore :-)