Monday, November 17, 2014

Grocery Shopping

I've been asked by quite a few people via email, Skype, Facebook chatting, etc what my favorite and least favorite things are about Germany so far. I get the question: "So what's really different there from what you're used to?" all the time.  The answer to that is without a doubt: "Almost everything!" :) Haha!

But to answer the questions much more specifically and in greater detail, I will be posting every so often about things that are very different and why, things that are mostly the same, things I like, things I dislike, things that I haven't tried, and so on. Please do not take any of the dislikes as me bashing this great place! I am merely sharing my honest and personal thoughts and opinions.

*One of the first things I found to be very different in Germany is grocery shopping. Say what????
     Grocery shopping in Germany is...well....I don't even know how to describe it. Ok, that's a lie. It's stressful. Why stressful, you ask?
A. People are all up in your space when you checkout. There is this unspoken rule to pay super quickly, grab your junk and get the heck outta the way. Seriously. There are no slow scanning, smiling, small-talk-making cashiers that I have encountered. They scan your items as if their very job depends on how quickly they can get you out of their face! Wanna bag your items? TOUGH! You will be expected to grab them, throw them in a bag or shopping cart quickly and move out of the way of the line to bag them on your own time.

B. Bags. You pay for bags here. If you don't bring reusable bags, the bags cost anywhere from 10 cents to 2 Euros, depending on the material and how large it is. Most places here are more "green", which I really like! But I do miss free bags sometimes. ;)

C. Selection. You may have to visit two or three different grocery stores to knock everything off your list. They all carry different things, and most of the stores are quite small. Some are "discount grocery stores", some are "bio grocery stores" (carrying more natural and organic products), some are normal and some are more upscale. My favorite grocery stores to shop at are "Penny" and "Rewe". It's harder to find an assortment of some items as well. Cereal is not a huge item here; the cereal selection is usually 3-4 sugary kinds and some cornflakes. When I have told people here about "cereal aisles" in the US, they are blown away!

D. No car= no trunk. Ok, this isn't the fault of the grocery store, but a LOT of people here (not just our family!) rely on biking, bus rides or walking to get everywhere. As in, no car. No car= no trunk. No trunk= you get only what your two hands can pretty easily carry back home. For me, that isn't much, as I'm usually wrangling and holding hands with a newly-turned-4 year old on the sidewalks, across the street, in the store, and all the way back home...PLUS holding the bags. My typically once a week or once every two weeks large grocery store haul back in the states doesn't happen here. We go to the grocery store No joke. I would stop on my way home from work in the states to pick up more fresh produce about 2x a week, and it would only take me 5 minutes. A grocery shopping trip takes 30 minutes just for the traveling to and from via foot, bus or tram. Plus the time shopping. And the discomfort of carrying the bags home and holding on to a child all at the same time. I used to LOVE grocery shopping. That might be weird, but it was true. I'd relish my weekly or every two weeks trip to Kroger or Super Target to load up on everything I needed for my freezer, fridge, cupboards, etc. I'd get toiletries, household items, clothing items for Erik and other things along with groceries.

E. There aren't "super centers" in most of Europe. Super Target, Wal-Mart...not available. There is a "Real", which is the closest thing, as in it has a pretty big grocery AND home good side. You want to buy clothes and groceries...that's gonna be two separate trips. Two different stores here.

F. A lot of grocery items are actually cheaper here! :) Woot! That's pretty nice. Fresh produce is generally less expensive, and you can find produce markets outside along most of the main platz areas. The produce always looks pretty dang good and you can find some neat seasonal produce as well.

Stay tuned for grocery shopping part 2.

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