Expensive Ugali? here are much affordable alternative foods for Kenyans

At least 42 per cent of Kenyans can no longer afford the country’s staple food -Ugali, this after a 2 kilo packet of maize flour hit Sh148, almost their daily average income of less than $1.90 or Sh190 by the World Bank definition of living below poverty line

The situation seems to worsen month on month, if latest inflation data in by the Kenya National Bureau of statistics is anything to go by

High cost of staple food-maize flour

Consumer prices in Kenya increased 9.04 percent year-on-year in February of 2017, following a 6.99 percent rise in the previous month. It is the highest inflation rate since June of 2012.

The current inflation in the country and more so, the high cost of maize flour has exposed the country’s dependence on few food types, allowing to use the chance to oppress consumers

Daily normal food budget for a low income family

In order to help low earning Kenyans to cope with the current inflation, Dhahabu Kenya sunk into the shoe of a Juakali worker who earns Sh350 on a good day and made the following food budget by exploring alternative foods in the market

On a normal day, Okoth* earn Sh350 from his welding job in the Mathare, an informal settlement in Nairobi. The father of two requires at least 3 kilo of flour daily, which covers both lunch and super. This means, he is currently spending at least Sh222 on maize flour, which represents 64 per cent of his total wage.

He is only left with around Sh130 which he divides on Sh30 kerosene, Sh30 for vegetables. The remaining balance of Sh100 is used for breakfast

Alternative and cheaper foods in the market

We went shopping in a bid to help Okoth* cut food costs in the current economic status.

Sweet Potatoes

For Sh100, you are likely to get 8 pieces of medium size sweet potatoes at Gikomba market, enough super for Okoth’s family of four.

He probably need sweet potatoes worth Sh200 to cutter for three Meals-Super, breakfast and lunch for his family, a much better deal than Sh222 maize flour that only manages two meals in a day.

With sweet potatoes, Okoth’s family doesn’t need milk for breakfast. Sugar used is also minimized as potatoes have natural sweetness.

The price is even better in some regions in the country-especially rural areas

Health bonus: Unlike Ugali, sweet potatoes are a source of four essential micro nutrients: vitamin C, thiamin, potassium and manganese, which between them have a whole range of properties that our bodies need to keep us ticking over

Mushed bananas


It is high time Kenyans borrow a leaf from their Ugandan counterparts who enjoy mushed banana (matoke) as their staple food.

With Sh20, a Nairobi resident is likely to get four pieces of green bananas in various markets across the city. This means that a family of four is likely to get at least 20 pieces of green bananas for only Sh100 which can be mixed with either sweet or Irish potatoes


Once luxurious food has since been overtaken by Ugali.  A spot check in various food stores in Nairobi shows that wheat flour is now retailing at Sh125, Sh25 less that of maize flour.

A kilo of wheat flour which retails at Sh60 can produce up to 16 chapatis, enough to sustain a family like that of Okoth’ for two meals. They just need a quarter litre of cooking fat which retails at Sh35 and perhaps one bunch of cabbage that retails for Sh25.


Instead of spending a whole Sh150 on a packet of maize flour and another Sh50 or so on vegetables, a family of four can purchase a kilo of maize and a kilo of bean to boil enough Githeri to take them for three meals.

A kilo of maize and beans will cost the family Sh70 and 60 respectively. The family will need one tin of charcoal which retails at Sh50.

These are just few food varieties Kenyans should consider even as they struggle to cope with the high cost of living that has made their staple food-Ugali, a luxary


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