One of the first things you will need to do when first moving to a different country seems fairly basic but can be daunting in a completely new culture. What I’m talking about is simply going out and buying groceries. It’s inevitable and in my opinion is a really fun experience, but can also be frustrating as well. In your own country you can go on auto-pilot and make your way throughout the store without much thought. In another country not only do you have to deal with the language differences, but you are also presented with a lot of different items that you never even knew existed. Again, this can be fun but can make the experience a bit more difficult. To aide and help improve this potentially intimidating scenario, here are a few things that will help you to be more prepared.
1. One of the main differences you’ll find is that you need to bring your own grocery bags, or be prepared to pay for a plastic one if you forgot to bring them with you. There are many different options for bags and here are some of the more popular ones:
The German Shopping Basket
These range from very basic woven baskets to intricate fabrics with pockets and all sorts of stuff.
The Shopping Tote or Roller Bag
Although this isn’t ideal when rolling down cobblestone streets, I have to admit that I have been wanting one of these lately. I must be officially turning in a German.
Here are some other things you can do to be prepared:
2. Bring change if you want a shopping cart. Shopping carts require a one Euro deposit generally, and then when you return your cart you get your money back.
3. Weigh your produce! Fruits and veggies in most stores need to be weighed before they’re bagged.
4. Batteries and plastic bottles are returned at the grocery store….and the gas station, and other stores as well. There are bottle machines to return your plastic bottles and you get money back for them. Not all bottles can be returned, but most of them can.
5. As an expat, it’s a good idea to either have your iphone handy or be sure to translate your grocery list before you leave. This goes especially for things like spices and items that you might have a hard time discerning from one another.
And as always, German grocery stores are closed on Sundays so make sure you get your shopping done on Saturday!