“Gyomu Supa” is an incredibly cheap bulk-buy discount food store designed for businesses rather than home consumers, but there’s nothing to stop you shopping there. I’ve heard some people say they don’t like Gyomu because the food is poor quality, but I’m sure they’re mainly referring to the frozen meat. The fact is that frozen anything is worse than fresh, so let’s just ignore that and look at what else you can get there. Other than the frozen foods, they also have a good selection of fresh vegetables and various spices and sauces.
Though I would never do my weekly shopping at Gyomu and I certainly wouldn’t recommend you do either, I do go there specifically to buy a couple of items in bulk maybe once a month. Namely: tinned whole and cut tomatoes for about ¥100 (perfect for making a quick pasta sauce or chilli-con-carne); also a 1kg bag of real Italian Fusilli for only ¥300 – bargain; and finally a pack or two of frozen pizza bases (I forget the cost now, but I think it’s around 50 yen for a small pizza base). Gyomu also happens to be the only place in Japan I have ever found real hotdog buns – I’d say the trip is worth if for those alone! Every 6 months or so we end up getting a big bag of those little chopped up dried red peppers – can’t think what they’re actually called, but they really add a kick of hot goodness, especially sprinkled on pizzas. Since my girlfriend is Chinese, she likes the range of random Chinese sauces and cooking ingredients – I have no idea what they are though, to be honest. While I’m there, I also pick up some button mushrooms for about half the price of our local supermarket. Of course, what’s cheaper for you will vary, but shopping smart and knowing what you can purchase in bulk will save you quite a lot.
Find your local area on Google Maps, then enter this search term to find your nearest store (copy and paste the Japanese): 業務スーパー