|Photo by Peace Correspondent|
Shopping for groceries in Germany is a little different than shopping for groceries in the States. For one, most towns have a weekly or bi-weekly farmers market that sets up downtown. This makes getting fresh produce and meats easy. There are also produce shops, meat markets, and bakeries in most towns.
As far as doing more serious shopping, there are several stores I shop at regularly. My favorites are Rewe (seems to have the best produce and tends to have more Bio (organic) produce), Lidl (cheapest store I shop at), and Kaufland (best store to go to in bad weather). Targets and Wal-Marts do not exist in Germany. Wal-Mart came to Germany in the mid-90s and sold their 85 stores in 2006. If you miss going to Wal-Mart visit a Real or Kaufland. The Real stores in our area used to be where the Wal-Marts were. They are smaller than a Wal-Mart Super Center but sell everything from groceries, to cleaners, to clothing. Real is a little far for me to drive so I prefer going to Kaufland which also sells a variety of things besides food and has reasonable prices. Other popular grocery stores are Aldi and Plus.
Kaufland and the Familia Centers - which often have a Kaufland store, typically have parking garages. Covered parking is really nice when it's raining, snowing, or really hot outside. They also have a few other stores inside the building such as a bakery, flower shops, clothing stores, etc.
Here are a few tips when grocery shopping in Germany:
1. Always carry a little change. You have to put a Euro in your grocery cart. The carts are connected by chains and when your return your cart, you get your money back.
2. Bring bags or a basket to put your groceries in because there are no free bags at the stores. You can buy them starting at around 10 Euro cent (about $0.145) per bag and up, depending on the size and type of bag.
3. Be prepared to bag your groceries and try and do it quickly. There is only a cash register and he/she does not bag your groceries. The first time I went shopping I looked like a fool waiting there, with no bags, as I got starred at by the people behind me. I ended up having to buy bags while holding up the line as I tried to quickly bag my items.
4. Bring cash if you don't have a EC card (European debit card). Grocery stores do not accept credit cards or American debit cards.
5. If there is a machine to weigh your produce to get a price tag, use it. Thankfully most machines have pictures of the items and are pretty easy to use. If you neglect to do this, the cashier will get mad and so will the people behind you in line. Yes, this has also happened to me.
Other than that, shopping for groceries in Germany is not that different than buying them in the States.