TaoBao Basics: Food Links!!!

As requested – here are some of my most often used food links.  Prices are subject to change and I’ve included search info for some items in case some of these links die eventually.  



block of parm 200g for 24rmb  (or search 帕马森芝士)

block of kerrygold cheddar 500g for 38rmb (NOTE: you can comment in your order whether you want white白色 or red红色 cheddar ALSO this is repackaged from the giant blocks so it will not come in Kerrygold packaging but I’ve ordered from this seller for years and the cheese is always great)

emmental swiss cheese 500g for 38rmb

kroon gouda cheese 500g for 43rmb 

feta cheese 500g for 17rmb

fresh produce

real seedless limes 1.5kg for 27rmb (or search 无籽青柠檬)

shanghai based veggie seller with hard to find items like kale, brussels sprouts, and asparagus for a bargain

tomato products

tomato puree 500g for 7rmb

tomato paste 400g for 15rmb (freeze flat in a ziploc bag and break off portions as needed)

pizza sauce 240g for 14rmb

dry goods

stone ground whole wheat flour 500g for 4rmb 

roasted sesame seeds 500g for 10rmb

pepitas 500g for 17rmb 

sunflower seeds 500g for 10rmb 

red lentils 1kg for 20rmb (or search 红扁豆)

pecans 908g for 123rmb

frozen foods

waffle fries 2.26kg for 45rmb

chicken nuggets (just like McDonald’s) 500g for 16rmb 


tortillas 4 packs of 12 for 38rmb  (available from tons of sellers in various sizes, search KFC 墨西哥卷饼

deli ham “ends” 500g for 20rmb (this is the end of hams that have been used for sliced deli meat, good to chop into cubes and add to soups, salads, baked potatoes, or casseroles – this store has various types of deli meat sold this way)

smoked chicken breasts 1kg for 40rmb  (or search weiss烟熏鸡胸)

whole ham for slicing deli meat 1.4kg for 140rmb 

dried apple bits 500g for 20rmb (this usually comes as 2 – 250g bags just FYI and the seller has a variety of dried fruits at good prices)

coconut milk (no additives) 1L for 15rmb

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TaoBao Basics: How to Save Your Favorite Items and Stores

Now that you know how to actually find stuff on TaoBao, you’ll probably want to save some of those treasures to easily access again in the future.  So let’s talk about saving and managing your favorite items.

How to save a “favorite”

On every product page, you should see a small star under the product photo, like this.

When you click the star, you will either get a message saying that the item has been collected into your favorites, or a confirmation message asking if you’re sure you want to save it.

The confirmation message looks like this…

And this one says the item has been successfully collected.

how to see your “favorites”

Great!  Now you know how to save an item, but where did it go?  How do I enter this magical land of TaoBao treasures perfectly curated by me? 

At the top of every TaoBao page (home page, search results, products pages, etc), you should have a header that looks like this…

See that familiar little star?  That’s where your favorites are hiding!

I’ve added a few helpful headings.  You’ll notice at the top, you have the choice between favorite items and favorite stores (I’ll show you how to save a store as a favorite in a minute).  This screen is showing favorite items, and yes, I have over 1,400.  Which is why I have a separate post about organizing these bad boys into manageable categories.

In the screen shot above, you’ll also see the following: All Items, On Sale, Unavailable, Organize By Category, and Search Your Favorites.  Let’s break those down…

All Items: Pretty obvious, but we’re going to come back to this because you can hover over this link to access the categories we’ll about to learn how to make in another post.

On Sale: Isn’t that nice?  TaoBao keeps tabs on whether or not the price has dropped since you saved an item!  This is especially helpful during the many, many special sale periods in China.  So if it’s 11/11 or 12/12/ or 5/12 or 6/18 or any other famous sale date  – you can quickly check to see if which of your favorites are being offered at a steal.

Unavailable: Oh boo!  This means that the item you saved is no longer being sold by the seller you saved it from.  The good news is that someone else is almost certainly still selling it somewhere else.  Find a new seller and save it again.

Organize By Category:  I’ll outline the steps in another post, but this is where you can group items together and create your own categories so that you’re not forced to sift through all 1,400 favorites to find that one Lego set you saved for your kiddos birthday. 

Search Your Favorites: Recently my ayi wanted more information about our oven because our western ways have swayed her to its usefulness.  I bought it on taobao and I know that an oven is a 烤箱 in chinese, so the fastest way for me to find the link was to search for it in my favorites! (I have a tendency to search and save an assortment of kitchen appliances before making a decision and settling on one, so I knew it was in there.)

How to save a store in your “Favorites”

Sometimes, you want to remember an entire store for future purchases, rather than an individual item.  Let’s look at two examples…

This leather backpack is beautiful, but the whole store is full of beautiful leather goods.  I wanted to remember it in the future in case I was looking for a manly gift for my husband.  

The circled area is the store info.  It shows me various ratings but at the bottom there are two buttons.  I underlined the button that will collect this store to your favorites – sorry, there’s no helpful little star this time.  The other button says “enter store” and will take you to the shop’s homepage.  

Unfortunately, the layout of each store and each product page can vary a little.  So let’s look at a second example…

I fell in love with the pottery and kitchen wares from lototo.  But you can see that on the right side of the page, there’s no store info.  Instead there are other items from the seller.  This time I had to hover over the store name at the top of the page.  That opened this window with ratings and again – two buttons at the bottom.  But this time, our helpful little star is back!  

But wait!  That says TMall and I thought we were learning about TaoBao?!  

No worries.  TMall and TaoBao live under the same umbrella.  When you save something from TMall, you’ll still see it in your TaoBao favorites.  Got it? Great, now let’s organize these babies

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TaoBao Basics: How to Manage & Organize Your “Favorites”

how to manage your “favorites”

When you click on the box that we identified as “Organize By Category” in the photo above, you’ll see the new options below. You’ll also notice that all of your items also have a grey checkmark in the corner. 

Note – When you’re finished organizing your items, you may want to turn off this organization feature. Remember the button that you clicked to open it (“Organize By Category”)? When it opened the new features, it changed into a “Cancel Organization” button.  If you click the same box several times, you’ll see the feature set toggle on and off.

You can select several items (notice that the checkmarks turn orange on the selected items) at once.  Then click on the plus sign in the middle of the new options circled above.  This will open your categories.  Simply click the category where the items belong and they will be added.

To make a new category, click the plus sign at the bottom (as seen in the photo above).  It will turn into a text field for you to name your new category.  Note – it will not allow you to use spaces in the names, hence my categories like “kidschristmas”.  Click the orange button and your new category will be added to the list above.  

Now when you go to your Favorites page, you can hover over “All Items”, and you’ll be able to access all of your neat tidy categories…

The top row contains the default categories that TaoBao creates for you.  The bottom row contains the categories that you have created.  

Deleting Favorites and finding similar items

Just a couple more tips that will help keep your favorites under control and help you find exactly what you’re looking for on TaoBao…

When I hover over an item, three new buttons appear: a trash can, 加入购物车, and 照相似.  

Trash Can: Click the trash can if you want to delete an item from your favorites.  Maybe you found a better price or a style you liked better.  Sometimes deleting unnecessary favorites just feels good.

加入购物车: Add to cart.  Yep, you can add the item right into your shopping cart without even leaving your favorites page.

照相似: Looking for something similar.  Now this is where the magic happens.  It’s also where you start getting lost down endless TaoBao rabbit trails so tread with caution.  Here’s what happened when I clicked  照相似 on a game called Sequence in my favorites…

This can be especially helpful when you’re looking for something with a particular style but you can’t find the right chinese words to describe it.  If you can just find a single item that comes close to what you’re looking for, 照相似 can help you find loads more.  For example, when I stumbled across these adorable mason jar shaped chalkboards, I was curious what other kitschy chalkboards TaoBao had to offer!

So now you’re an expert in TaoBao Favorites!  Search, save, and organize!  TaoBao is about to become your new BFF.



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TaoBao Basics: How to Actually Find Stuff

Method #1: Searching in English

Pro’s: You’ll probably find exactly what you’re looking for and it’s super easy.

Con’s: TaoBao sellers that use English in their descriptions and titles are almost all going to hike their prices way up.  Also, it will only be able to search for those English words, so you’re only going to get results from the small subset of sellers who use English in their store.

Method #2: Searching in chinese using a translator

Google Translate or the Pleco app are your best bet if you’re going to go this route.  Simply type the English word you are looking for and copy/paste the chinese translation.

Pro’s: Way more results than searching in English and the prices will be lower.

Con’s: It is sometimes harder than you’d expect to find an accurate translation than what you’re looking for.

Example: I was looking for a griddle for making pancakes on.  Using the Google Translate word for “griddle”, this is what TaoBao gave me…

Not quite what I had in mind… So, when you’re translator fails you – what can you do?

Method #3: Searching by photo

Pro’s: You can search all of the listings on TaoBao with out using any chinese whatsoever.  

Con’s: It’s certainly not foolproof.  Sometimes it works like a charm and others it’s a total fail.  

Example: This time, I did a Google Image search for pancake griddles.  I saved a clear photo of a griddle on a white background.  Then I clicked the camera icon in the TaoBao search bar below and uploaded my griddle photo.  

This time, I got these results…

Much better!  But take notice of the boxes at the top that I circled.  These are categories.  TaoBao will automatically try and guess which category you were looking for.  If it guesses wrong, just click through the other categories to see if there’s a better match.

Here’s another example.

This time, I searched for a photo of a candy cane and TaoBao sent me to the toy category.  Let’s look for a food category instead…

There they are!  Now, if you don’t want to blindly click through each category and you can’t read chinese, I highly recommend using the Zhongwen Chrome extension.  It allows you to hover over a character and see it’s translation (example below).  Since using an auto-translation service to translate the whole page can cause problems with the TaoBao website, I find this tool to be much more useful.

bonus method: The “Ikea hack”

Before I had perfected the methods above, I figured out how to use the IKEA website as a fool proof translator.  For example, recently a friend asked me if I knew how to find those giant rolls of butcher paper on TaoBao.  Since I know that’s an item that IKEA sells, I taught her this trick.

Go to  (the “cn” means you’re shopping for items available in China, the “en” means that you want the site to display in English) and search for the object you want.

On the product page, go to the address bar and replace the “en” with “zh”.  This tells the website that you want it to display in Chinese or, as they say in Chinese – 中文 (zhongwen).

Now you can copy/paste the product description into your TaoBao search bar and away you go!

Hopefully these tips help you navigate the treasures of TaoBao with a bit more success and less frustration!