Grocery shopping in Germany
Assuming you are on a trip to Germany and want to bring back some treats for your family and friends, it is not always easy to find the right product for the right dime. Don’t pay more than you have to in tourist stores, don’t forget to bring your own bags and it is always fly to have the exact amount of cash for your purchase. How to grocery shop like a boss in Germany.
1. Stores names
Yes there is a store called Penny. No it’s not like the Dollar Store, and no not everything is for a Penny. You will find your well-known Aldi Süd or Aldi Nord, depending on where you are located. But there are other stores where you can get away from the white-socked crowd and get a bang for your buck… I mean Euro. Please meet: Edeka : Netto : Rewe : Lidl : Aldi Nord : Aldi Süd : Penny. Important, please don’t forget that the Germans don’t like to work outside the general opening hours of 8am-9pm on weekdays and weekends. Yup, no beer runs after 9pm, unless you want to overspend yourself at a local gas station.
2. Put your translation App to use
Yes you will find Extradick (extra thick) paper towels or pure orange Dicksaft (thick juice) in almost every store you walk into. But you should make sure you know a few German words before taking a dive: Scharf (spicy) or not, the Haltbarkeitsdatum (Best-by-date) may save your life. I think the rest is pretty much secondary… and if you have questions, please don’t forget to use the “Sie” politeness form before they answer you back in English because you can’t pronounce a single word correctly.
3. Pay for your paper and plastic bags
The casual, cost-free usage of paper and plastic bags is non-existent in Germany, and most of Europe for that matter. The European Union even banned the usage of all plastic bags as of 2019. So get your plastic bags while you can! Hence, the Germans have a knack for always carrying a tote bag with them everywhere they go… just in case. And if your tote bag claims its’ even produced out of organically grown greens, you are on your way to becoming a class A boss at grocery shopping.
If you have mastered German-grocery-shoppery, then you most probably go to the grocery store with your handled-whisk-basket. Yup, just like little red riding hood did.
4. Have the exact amount of cash at the register
I must say, this might be one of the most complicated things to do in Germany, assuming that your American wallet doesn’t even have a compartment for coins/ change. Yes, the Germans have a wallet compartment for coins! And when the cashier tells your amount to be paid… take on the challenge as every other German does… glance in your coin compartment. And at this point in time, the stares from all them other folks in line behind you may even burn a hole in that compartment of yours. If you are able to fork out the exact cash matching your amount to be paid, you are definitely mastering this little thing called grocery shopping in Germany. And you will get nothing but smiles from the cashier until you walk out that store.
5. Don’t expect quality doughnuts
Do Germans even sell doughnuts? Yup. Would I even consider them doughnuts? Nope. This is one of the only reasons I used to go grocery shopping with my parents back in the day. This is still one of the main reasons I still get groceries in the morning… The in-store bakery doughnut selection. In Germany, you will find the small, wannabee, dunkin’ donuts-doughnuts in their in-store bakeries… and like I said, those aren’t doughnuts. But what you will find is a grand selection of German bread, German rolls and sometimes other European baked goods, such as croissants. (Yes, I had to spell check that)
6. Show your empty bag & “the product scan race”
This is policy in some stores to make sure none of them old grandmas forgot a Twinkie or two in their tote bag of theirs. Twinkies in Germany are hard to come by, but I am assuming that most stores do this to prevent stealing. But I’ve personally experienced both, stores that practice this type of prevention and others that don’t. But once you’ve shown your empty tote, on your marks-get set-go! You will then experience the German effectiveness of grocery product scanning. I suggest that this should be accepted as an Olympic discipline. And if you’ve ever been grocery shopping in Germany, you know exactly what I am writing about!
7. Ask for a receipt – double check – be tedious!
Maybe the cashier scanned one too many oranges, or forgot to punch in a rebate. The Germans are quite tedious about what they spend, and you should be too. Germans have high regards for people who can “Turn one Euro into Two.” Meaning those who are utterly efficient with their resources. So, no need to rush out of the store, stop and check over each and every product on your receipt, and you have no reason to be overly polite when approaching staff for your reclamation. You have every right to fight for every Dime… or Penny that you spend.
As for us, Germany has fantastic breads, I carry around a wallet with coin compartment everywhere I go and am a fan of brown paper bags filled with groceries.