Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012 Food Prices in Ukraine

This is the Ukrainian grivna.
Happy Sweet Sixteen, Ukrainian grivna! (1996 - present)
Also known as hryvnya, hryvnia, гривні, гривня, грн., or uah (plural griven - гривень) (*phew!*), it's worth approximately 12 US cents as of October 2012. The grivna was originally a currency used way back in the Kievan Rus... and surprise, surprise, who could that be on the front of the bill? None other than Vladimir the Great, a grand prince of Kiev way back in the Kievan Rus!
He's totally rocking that hat!
Born to a king and a housekeeper, Wikipedia claims that Saint Vlad had 800 concubines. Eventually he began to search for a suitable religion for his country. He called before him representatives of many religions. The story goes that he seriously considered Islam after hearing of plural wives... until he learned that wine would be forbidden! Жить без вина мы не можем, ибо на Руси все веселие и удовольствие бывает в подпитии, or thou canst not live lacking wine, for all happiness and pleasure in Rus depend upon it. At the end of the story he ended up picking Orthodoxy and he forced his lands to be thus baptized. And look, hey!, the majority are still Orthodox! : ) Anyways, the currency of modern Ukraine is also called grivna so I suppose it's only suitable to have his face on the front.

The fastest way to calculate prices between Ukrainian griven and US dollars in your head?

8 uah = 1 usd

It's not accurate to the cent, but it's close enough. Memorize that and you'll be able to calculate prices fairly easily (as long as the exchange rate is stable!)

How much can you expect to spend on food in Ukraine?
Let's see....
Meet cat, our buckwheat quality assurance specialist
For 8 uah you can pick up a kilogram of gretchka, a tasty traditional food. That's right, only 1 buck! It's prepared like rice and takes about 20 minutes to cook. Eat it for breakfast with sugar, for lunch with ketchup and sausage, or throw it in a soup. It's also known as a health/diet food.

bread = 4 uah, 50 cents usd
sparkling H20 = 5 uah, 60 cents usd
milk = 10 uah, $1.25 usd
Milk doesn't last long here. When I mention how long milk lasts in America, people freak out. Honestly, now so do I :p

beef: 60 - 80 uah ($7.40 - $9.80 usd) a kilogram

vodka + Pepsi = 40 uah (combined) $5 usd!!
Sovietskoe champagne: 25 uah, $3 usd

One day I noticed a special offer at the local supermarket- a wrapped two-pack of vodka and Pepsi. Were they suggesting some kind of strange new cocktail??? I know there's ерш (beer + vodka) but I've never heard of Pepsi + vodka! Btw, this was not a very good vodka. Try PRIME (price of 1 liter: 50 uah, $6 usd ) instead. If your tastes run to champagne, Sovietskoe is decent cheap brand. Crimean brands also tend to be good.

small sunflower oil = 13 uah, $1.50 usd
wine = 30 uah, $3.70 usd
small olive oil = 35 uah, $4.25 usd
I didn't keep the receipt for this shopping trip, but I'm guessing it cost about 120 uah ($15 usd)
About 200 uah ($25 usd) at the Central Market
These spices are sold loose for 5 uah (60 cents usd) each. Spice mixes are also sold... sometimes they hatch little bugs though after a couple of weeks! :p
Errr... also lost the receipt for this one but I'm thinking about 130 uah, $16 usd. The most expensive thing is probably the cereal (20 uah, $2.50 usd)!
Just since smoking is so popular here, I thought I'd throw this in. Marlboro is a pricey brand- 15 uah, $1.85 usd. Cigarettes cost about 10 uah, $1.20 usd on average.
  • McDonalds meal: usually around 50 uah, $6 usd
  • chocolate bar: 7 uah - 20 uah, 85 cents - $2.50 usd
  • 7 liters of water: 13 uah ($1.60 usd) at the store, 6 uah (75 cents usd ) from the neighborhood water truck
  • eating at a restaurant (per person): 40 - 250 uah, $5 - $30 usd
  • I've heard from Peace Corps Volunteers living in villages that they can survive on something like 100 uah ($12.30 usd) a week for food!
Before you get too excited, remember that doctors and engineers in Ukraine officially make a little over $120 usd a month. Pensioners receive about $160 a month. According to what I see advertised online, translators can pull in $250 - $600 usd monthly. IT guys make $500 - $3000 usd a month. Foreign English teachers can expect to make about $10 - $12 usd an hour on average.

To finish up, here's the back of the one grivna note:
The picture depicts град володимира, or town of Vladimir.
It was a fortified city within Kiev, functioning between 900 - 1200 AD.

PS: There's also a 1 uah coin- keep an eye out for it!

More Ukrainian currency:

5 uah note (coming soon!)
10 uah note, 20 uah note
50 uah note
100 uah note
200 uah note (coming soon!)
500 uah note


  1. Great review, Katherine!
    Don't forget to mention that 'gretschka' is buckwheat in English.
    And vodka with any soda water (like Pepsi) will just make people drunken faster.
    If you add a teaspoon of coffee to that mix, people say that it's called 'Patches' cocktail. Never tried that.

    1. Haha, Patches cocktail, that's awesome! I tried something similar in Crimea with coffee, coke, and.... cognac? or some other kind of alcohol. It was surprisingly good, so maybe you should give Patches a try!

    2. Excuse me, Patches?? What is the Russian/Ukrainian name for it? I've had the same one that Kate had (with cognac) and I agree - it does taste pretty good, but I've never heard of that name. Speaking of the Ukrainian drinks. Guess what I found at a tiny Russian grocery store in a sleepy suburb of Dallas, Texas. "Перша приватна броварня" beer! 3 different kinds - Stare Misto, Platinum and some other one. How crazy is that? It just made my day, since it used to be my favorite beer when I lived in Ukraine.

    3. Hi Sergiy! The Russian is Коктейль Лоскуты. There's something on this site ( about doctors drinking it.

      Stare Misto is so widely advertised here, I can't believe you found it in Texas :)

  2. Thank you for a great blog. It's very interesting to see my country in the eyes of foreign.
    "Жить без вина мы не можем, ибо на Руси все веселие и удовольствие бывает в подпитии, or thou canst not live lacking wine, for all happiness and pleasure in Russia depend upon it." -
    I'm not criticizing you but 'Русь' is not Russia;)

    1. Hi Andy, thanks for reading! :)

      You're right, Русь is not Russia... how can I translate it better? Kievan Rus'?

    2. I'm not fluent in English to be sure of a proper translation, but I think it either "Rus" or "Rus'" just like here: .
      Russia did not yet exist... neither Ukraine. It's just a one more little point of controversial Ukrainian-Russian relations, their history, origin of Ukrainian and Russian nations, Ukrainian identity, imperial ambitions and geopolitics of Russian government etc.
      No matter.
      I don't regret a single minute of a couple of hours of my life that I've wasted for reading this blog. It's really interesting. Best regards!

    3. Rus, noted and changed! :) I'm happy to hear that you found this to be interesting reading. It's always a great pleasure to have local readers!

  3. viewed on what we have from different perspective, thanks)

  4. AFAIK vodka+smt more or less sparkling is named ёрш, not ерж. But maybe for Pepsi it's just another name :)
    Also, I think it would be fair to mention, that thing like mp3-players, laptops, TVs, cars (espessially used), cloths, cheese, lot of interesting food stuff here cost more or at least similar to US prices /with still 120-150$ of salary

    1. Oops, thanks for the spelling correction! Sometimes I have trouble hearing the difference between ж and ш (and that's not even to get into the ш/щ issue).

      You know, I'd always heard that electronics were so so expensive here, but we just bought a computer and it was $500, about the same it would cost in the US, so now I tend to agree with you on this point. But $500 is still very expensive on a Ukrainian salary.