One of the expenses I’m never, ever fully prepared for on vacation is food. Sure, I always budget plenty of money for evenings out on the town, but I neglect to plan for all those breakfasts and lunches I will inevitably eat out, and fast food can get old very quickly. That said, here are some inexpensive, tasty foods locals in Hawai’i pick up from local supermarkets for those quick lunches on the road or days at the beach.
Musubi is similar to sushi: it is a block of (regular) sticky rice with meat on top, wrapped in seaweed. Depending on the maker or store, some musubi is seasoned with furikake, a Japanese seasoning mix including (more) seaweed and sesame seeds. Spam musubi is by far the most common musubi, but most stores carry fish and chicken musubi as well.
These are a great choice for the beach, as the added salt in the meat and carbs in the bread will help restore some of that energy used up by hanging out in the sun all day. Plus, if you are splitting one between three or four people, everyone can get filled on $2 or so each. When I am headed to the beach with two or three friends, I pick up a sub, a few cans of iced tea, and a bag of chips, and we’re good for the whole day for under $20.
Allow me to paint a picture with words: you are planning on driving up to see the Haleakala sunrise, but the only coffee place open that early is McDonald’s. Rather than spending your glorious morning of connecting with nature in line for golden arches, Royal Mills has your back. Their canned coffee is $2-3 cheaper than most pre-made coffee drinks and is just as tasty. As a bonus, Royal Mills coffee is produced in Hawai’i.
For the slightly more adventurous foodie, Hawai’i has poke, or salted raw fish cut into cubes and seasoned.
Unlike many local foods, poke actually originated in Hawai’i and was originally served salted w ith limu, or seaweed. Today, poke has benefited from the melding of cultures that came in the plantation era, and most stores sell several varieties of poke. While you can buy poke by the quarter, half, or full pound ala carte, Foodland has also started serving poke bowls, with rice on the bottom and poke on top. ‘Ono (delicious)!
Pos (Passion-Orange-Guava) juice is one of the most popular juices in Hawai’i, and while it is available on the mainland, it doesn’t have the popularity it has in the islands. While in Hawai’i, be sure to pick up a carton. Or several.