Shopping for Groceries
Food shopping here in Germany is a different experience for Americans.  There are several things to learn right off the bat.  

One of the first things is about carrying your groceries.   You 'rent' the shopping carts.  They are chained together outside the store or just inside the door.  To unchain one to use, you have to insert a 1 mark coin (about $0.52*) in a slider thing to release the chain holding the carts together.  When you are through shopping, you put the cart back with the others and get your money back.

In the US, we are accustomed to the store providing the bags - either plastic or paper.   In Germany, you bring your own or buy them from the store.   And you bag your own groceries.  No bag-boys to put your stuff in the bag and take it to the car for you.

The next big thing to learn is the hours that the stores are open.   During the week they are open until 7 or 8pm depending upon the store.  On Saturday, until usually 2pm and never on Sunday.  The only places open on Sundays are gas stations and restaurants.

There are many choices as far as where to shop.  For instance, here in Höchst, we have Mini Mal, Toom, Aldi, and Hertie.  The first 3 are grocery chains and the last is a department store with groceries in the basement.  In addition to the big stores, there are many ethnic markets with fruits, vegetables and various ethnic foods.  On Saturdays you can find large open-air markets with just about all the kinds of food and other stuff you can imagine.  There is one in Kelkheim and one in downtown Frankfurt.  I'm not sure about a Saturday market here in Höchst, but I know there is one during the week. 

For the things I buy at the grocery store, the prices are really good.   I'm a vegetarian so I don't buy meat.  I buy most everything else and can't think of anything that is more expensive than what I buy in the US.  Most things are less.  For instance, beer and wine are very noticably less expensive.  Beer costs around 1 mark per half-liter (a little more than 16 oz).  A nice bottle of wine for dinner can be had for 10-15 marks, and many wines are less.  There is a discount chain called Aldi (see sample above) that has amazingly low prices.  You could describe them as a multinational chain because now stores are starting to appear around Charlotte.  Their stores are no-frills and they don't have a large selection.   You just go see what they have and get what you need.  My strategy is to go to Aldi first, buy what I can there, then buy what's left on my list at another store. 

Being a vegetarian,  there are some things I eat that I can't find at the regular grocery stores - like tofu and soy milk.  For these things, I go to the 'Reformhaus' - which means health food store.  Fortunately there is one in Höchst and I can pick up the bare necessities there.  Some things I like they just don't have and I have to do without.

Oh yeah,  another thing.  If you don't know German, you just have to rely on the pictures on the food packages sometimes to know what you're getting.   That is, until you learn a few of the words for the different foods and can be sure.

Click for a larger image


2 frozen spinach pizzas
1liter apple juice
1 liter multivitamin fruit juice
1000 gram bag of muesli
500 gram pack of bread
2 kg carrots
750 ml pineapple juice
750 ml grapefruit juice
250 grams bagel chips
200 grams Maasdamer cheese
200 grams feta cheese
500 grams white grapes

TOTAL COST: 23.07dm OR $11.92*
























*exchange rate as of 1/21/2000:
    1.9355dm=$1 or 1 german mark = $0.52


   Comments, questions, suggestions?                                                       Last update: 12/31/04