Here's a word to our future selves (and to friends who will follow our sage advice to go to the most blessed isle) from Nathan.
1. Bring a suitcase of food with select items. A well-selected collection of foods will save you over $100, even after the luggage checking fee. Recommended: special diet foods, spices, snacky items (like granola bars), chocolate, luxury items. The pricing scheme on St. John is set to gouge tourists on items like these.
2. Find the in-season produce. Don't suppose that everything is in season in the Caribbean. It's not. And hardly anything is actually grown on St. John. So, for example, this last time limes were three for a buck, but (browning) avocados were $3.50 a pop. Prices change weekly. We saw pineapple go up 50% one Monday.
3. Go for close-dated sales. If you’re only there for a week, you’ll use items before they truly expire. Cheese can be marked down by 70%. We found Bugles, my arch-vacation-food, for $1.99. Should have stocked up and risked the instant heart disease!
4. Eat out early, during happy hour. A lot of places have food specials along with the drinks. That means timing meals (or ditching the dinner schedule), shooting for 3-5pm.
5. Beyond these principles, set a budget and ignore mark-up. Who cares that peanut butter is five bucks, or that a store has that bag of rice jacked up by 300%, or that you can get that exact kind of chicken strip at home for half the price? Everything is expensive here at the edge of the world. Set yourself a budget, eat well, and enjoy yourself.