When You Can’t Buy Peanut Butter

You might be like others I’ve talked with in the States. You want to know, “How is life different for you in Ukraine?”

We experience lots of differences. Some feel big and scary, like dealing with health problems in a foreign country. Others are minor, and we don’t pay much attention anymore, like frequently losing power…which also means losing water and heat.

Today I was planning meals and my grocery list for the week. Two common challenges came to mind as I plotted out our dinners:

1. When a recipe calls for pre-made much of anything, I know I’ll have to make it from scratch.

2. Certain ingredients I’ll never find; others depend on the day.

So, I decided to share with you a list of things we don’t have in Ukraine, at least not regularly. This is one of those “not-really-a-big-deal” differences, because we’ve grown accustomed to it. But at the same time, it affects our lives pretty much every day.


1. Black Beans

Our family LOVES Mexican food, and I make it frequently. Black beans was the first ingredient I missed when we moved here, and I still lament their loss in our meals.

2. Canned green chilis

I can buy a few types of fresh chilis, which honestly is healthier and tastier than canned. But as a mama of two little ones, I miss the convenience of popping open a can and dumping the contents.

3. Rotel

Once again, these canned tomatoes and chilis are a common ingredient in quick Mexican meals. I can buy the ingredients here, but I do the chopping and stewing myself…therefore quick meals aren’t as quick.

4. Fruits and vegetables out of season

I can’t go to the store and find any imported fruit or vegetable, anytime of the year. We cook according to the seasons here.

5. Reeses Candies

Personally, I’m not a huge candy eater, but every once in a while, I’d love a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup!

6. Evaporated Milk

Not exactly something we used a lot in the States, but my husband was overjoyed to find evaporated milk on a trip to Poland. Now he can make his family’s fudge recipe!

7. Pinto Beans

Our Mexican-food-loving family misses refried beans.

I’ve shared before that I grew up as a missionary kid in Ukraine in the mid 90s. Back then, there were far more ingredients we couldn’t find. I consider us spoiled today to have these on a regular basis:

1. Peanut Butter

Once upon a time, this was the first item in every care package loved ones put together.

2. Any Pre-Made Sauce or Salad Dressing

When we moved to L’viv three years ago, I learned to make all our sauces and salad dressings from scratch. I can actually buy many of them now, but we’ve realized how much better they are homemade. Unless I’m feeling lazy, I still make most of them.

3. Gluten Free Products

I’ve had multiple kidney stone issues in the past few years, and my new diet overlaps some with gluten free foods. I was shocked when I started finding gluten free products in our local store.

4. Oreos

These were basically a chocolate treasure to any American when they first came to Ukraine.

5. Alternative Flours

We use oat and coconut flour most of the time, and it was just in the past year that I could find these locally.

6. Quinoa

For three years, I skipped over recipes calling for quinoa and felt a little sorry for myself. Now, our grocery store has an entire shelf full.

But Check Out the Greener Grass Over Here

We don’t have everything from “back home,” but we buy things in Ukraine that we miss in the States. Certain spices, types of dairy products, the best honey EVER, and handmade chocolates that people in America beg us to send them. So, this post is by no means a “feel sorry for us” message! It’s simply an observation on a difference we experience living in Ukraine.


2 thoughts on “When You Can’t Buy Peanut Butter

  1. You can get all of those items in most major supermarkets. For instance, in the Victoria Gardens mall you get them al except for Reese’s and the evaporated milk. You can get them delivered to your house from various online groceries websites or health food shops though, for free.


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