After watching all of the Youtube videos of expats talking about grocery shopping in Germany, I still didn’t believe the fuss. But now, here I am, advising you about the stress of grocery shopping in Germany!
I used to love grocery shopping. Once I was old enough to drive, my mom sent me to the store for her so that she wouldn’t have to go. I loved being able to find the best deals as well as being inspired by the food and what I could make. But now, I dread going to the grocery store.
As much as I tried to fight my feelings on this one, it is different grocery shopping in Germany compared to Canada. I wanted to love it. I loved it at first, but that’s just not the case anymore. Maybe it has something to do with navigating a baby and stroller through the store, but it’s more than that. While it can be a bit trickier if you’re a tourist trying to find snacks for a picnic compared to a newbie who has just moved here, there are some tips I can recommend. All of this planning and preparing before/during grocery shopping makes me feel so German, it hurts.
While I do find it more stressful to grocery shop now, one of the positives of Groceries in Germany is that it is generally cheaper than in Canada. You do, however, pay taxes on food here, but overall you’ll still be spending less money. So grab that 1 Euro coin you need for the shopping cart and los geht’s! (let’s go!)
Know Where & When to Shop
Different stores carry different things. This is true everywhere, but there are discounter stores like Aldi and Lidl that, in my opinion, are unorganized and don’t carry everything that I need. They are, however, cheaper (a little bit…). Even within my town, I can find some things that I’m looking for at one normal grocery store and not the other. When making my shopping list, I always decide which store I’m going to shop at first.
Once you’ve figured out where to shop, deciding when to go is also important. If you have the ability to be flexible, whatever you do, do not go to the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon! I actually witnessed a man with his 2 sets of twins, plus other children, trying to shop on a Saturday afternoon. Bad idea! On Holidays as well as Sundays the stores are closed, so the day before is always really busy! Now imagine there’s a holiday on a Saturday! When people know they can’t buy food for two whole days, it’s almost like the apocalypse!
Don’t Expect a lot of Options
Unless you’re wanting to buy a package of sauce mix, in which case you’ll be standing in the sauce isle for roughly 10 minutes trying to figure out which one to get, don’t expect selection. The first few months grocery shopping here I would spend so much time trying to find other options of products at cheaper prices. But you probably won’t find it. While the headline is still a bit of an exaggeration, the product selection of cereals, chips, peanut butter, etc, is nothing like you would find in Canada and I’m sure the US as well.
I also spent a lot of time looking for items in bulk sizes, and it’s just not a thing here. Gone are the days of buying 1L jugs of Maple Syrup or large tubs of Peanut Butter! I think this has to do with Germans having smaller fridges and storage space for food. If you’re a German reading this, do you wish you could buy larger quantities of items? What’s your take on this? Leave a comment!
Expect to See Things That are “Strange”
There are always going to be products that are different from what we know that stand out to us, but I find it interesting how much “American” products you can find here as well. But there’s not always things that Americans would eat, such as jarred hot dogs. It baffles me, really. You think to yourself, “Would someone actually buy that?” But today I saw a lady buy 4 jars of “American Style” Hot Dogs!
Besides the interesting “American” products I always see, I took a few photos of other foods that are different to me.
The Dreaded Checkout
Basically what this whole post has been waiting for, the reason for me writing this: the Checkout. If you’ve been to any store where they don’t bag the groceries for you, you can empathize a little. But it can be a little overwhelming at times. But I, along with a lot of other Germans, come prepared with their shopping baskets. A similar idea to the ones you find at Superstore. The differences between the Superstore and German grocery stores is that there is only one, small area where the scanned groceries go for you to pack, and no divider for the next customer. There is no time to be methodically packing a grocery bag and a lot of times we just throw everything back into the cart and pack it off to the side. I understand that there are a lot of customers to get through, but the stress of it just really makes me dread going to the grocery store!
I didn’t really think that I’d have so much to say about this topic, and perhaps I’m being a little overdramatic, but I could go on about it! Leave a comment below about something you’d find in your country’s grocery store that a foreigner might find a bit odd. I actually can’t think of anything for Canada, so someone please help me out!
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If you’re looking for more info about what it’s like living in Germany, check out 2 Things You Need to Know about Renting in Germany!
See you next week!