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One of the things I like to do when I am at home in Germany is simply to go into a supermarket. As I try to find a one Euro coin to get the cart, I wonder why this particular idea never made it to the US. After all it’s such an easy solution to eliminate stray carts that are all over the parking lot.

The moment I enter the store the scent of freshly baked bread from the little bakery at the entrance hits me. Oh, how I have missed dark bread with a nice thick crust and the big selection of Brötchen (i.e., dinner rolls – only better). And all the yummy pastries for Kaffee und Kuchen in the afternoon! By the way, I never knew that coffee and cake was a German tradition until Marco asked me why all my relatives kept offering exactly that on one of our first trips as a couple to Germany :) Why? Well, that’s just what you do when you have visitors in the afternoon… duh. I guess only in Germany…

I enjoy that everything seems a little narrower and smaller in even the bigger German supermarkets. Every little bit of space is taken up with displays of Kaffee, Salami, Müsli, … As I squeeze my cart through the aisles trying to get by other people I notice… silence… Not the constant excuse me ‘s I hear in Texas all the time. Is that good or bad? I don’t know. It’s just what it is.

The cheese counter is totally irresistible with all of the foreign and local cheeses just laying there ready for me to grab them and fill my cart – and unlike in my little high-end supermarket in Texas, it’s affordable as well. Fresh Gouda, small pieces of Brie and Camembert, …  it’s all so good when it’s fresh! The butcher’s corner has all of the cold cuts you could ever want and more. I try to only focus on the ones I cannot find in Texas like Kassler (a cold cut version of smoked pork chops) or a nice, fresh piece of Fleischwurst (bologna).

My resolve to not completely pig out this time around is almost gone by the time I hit the refrigerated displays with all their goodies like Milchschnitte – the supposedly light and healthy snack for in-between meals. Milchschnitte won the Goldenen Windbeutel (golden cream puff; a prize for the worst advertising lie in Germany – not unlike the Razzies, except it’s for food) in 2011 because it’s anything but light and healthy, but oh well, in the cart they go.  And who could resist grabbing just a few things from the the shelves that are filled with sweets from their childhood? Balisto, Ferrero, Kinder, Haribo, here I come.

And on the way out I see it… hidden between olives, cherries, vinegar, and popcorn…. a single jar of Barney’s Best Crunchy Peanut Butter. It even has the American flag on it! Who would have thought I’d run into peanut butter while grocery shopping in Germany? Can you see it below? and there’s even a German version: Erdnuss Creme.

Grocery Shopping in Germany: Peanut Butter

Remember how a while back I wrote about how I think that peanut butter could be America’s favorite treat? And that there are so many different brands and types in the US? Contrast the picture above with the selection you can find at your local Walmart alone and have a laugh :) And you American expats in Germany, head over to REWE and get yourself a glass of Barney’s Best. You know you want to ;)

Grocery Shopping in Germany: Peanut Butter

So, now that you know where you can get your peanut butter fix, here are some more tips for grocery shopping in Germany:

  • Bring our own bags or be prepared to pay for simple plastic bags to carry your groceries home.
  • Bag it yourself. Cashiers in Germany don’t bag your groceries for you – and they don’t bring them to your car like in Texas either. Oh, and you better be quick bagging it all up – people in line behind you will get antsy.
  • Bigger does not necessarily imply cheaper. There are big chains in Germany, like Aldi, that are much smaller than your regular Walmart (and I’m not even talking the Superstores here), but have much better prices. In many cases, groceries are actually cheaper in Germany than in the US. I think it’s because of the strong competition among discount chains in Germany.
  • Be aware of your store’s opening hours. Grocery stores are not open 24/7 in Germany. Most stores close around 6-8pm. Oh yes, and don’t even try to buy anything on a Sunday as almost everything is closed.
  • What you see, is what you pay: VAT is included in the price that is displayed, except…
  • Be prepared to fork over some extra cash when you buy bottled water or juice. You pay a “deposit” per bottle that you get back when you return the empty bottle. A lot of the bigger supermarkets have automated machines in the front that take your empty bottles and print a receipt that you can take to the cashier to get your money back.
  • Buying fruits and veggies: When you are looking for organic, look for the label “Bio”. And make sure to weigh your fruits and veggies before going to the cashier. There are usually small scales that will print a label right there on the spot. If you don’t stick that little label on your fruits and veggies, the cashier won’t be able to scan them and you’ll hold up the line – again, mean stares from people behind you.
  • Oh yes, and don’t forget that one Euro coin so you actually have a cart to put in all your groceries as you stroll through the supermarket :)

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42 Comments

  • Ana says:

    They do they coin thing in Canada, it’s a loonie (a one dollar coin), as well as the bags. You bring your own and bag your groceries.
    I tend to go food shopping when I visit home as well and pig out on my favourite food!
    Ana recently posted..Funny factura names (and their origin)

    • Sabrina says:

      Glad to see I’m not the only one who can’t resist all the goodies back home :) Yeah, the coin thing is spreading! Loonie? What an awesome name for a dollar coin is that?! can’t wait to visit Canada :)

  • Hahahah! PB is taking over the world, I’m telling you!!! BTW – where in Germany are you from? I just went to Munich a couple of weeks ago and fell in love with the grocery store at the airport – mostly because it had loads of amazing chocolate :).

    • Sabrina says:

      I though of you yesterday when I tried apple slices with peanut butter :) And guess what! I liked it! I’m from a small town outside of Cologne. I think my mom told me about the grocery store at Munich airport because she bought stuff there on a short stopover to Egypt. She said it was huge! And yes… chocolate! Yummy! Hershey’s can’t keep up with that…

  • Oh, this post makes me homesick ;-) German bread and the huge selection of rolls is what I miss most, I guess, and affordable French & Swiss & Italian cheese – and German chocolate of course!!
    Dani | Globetrottergirls recently posted..Snack-sized Spain – Tapas for everyone!

    • Sabrina says:

      I know, right?! I’m back in Texas and miss these things already! Luckily, I can find chocolate in the World Market store close-by :) The rest? If i can even find it, it’s super expensive.

  • R. Sherman says:

    Aldi here in the States has a quarter per cart returnable deposit which you get when you return the cart to the designated spot. It’s automated and prevents all the car/cart collisions in the parking lot.

    Cheers.
    R. Sherman recently posted..What Did You Do During Summer Vacation?

  • TexaGermaNadian says:

    Always such a great feeling to find that taste from home! I loved the PB in Germany. And after now being in Finland for a month, I really miss how great German grocery stores are. Great little tips too!

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks :) What’s bad about Finnish grocery stores? I saw your comment about your German helping you out via Swedish descriptions. That’s too funny :) Hope Finland is treating you well overall!

  • One of the best things about Germany is the bread! Chewy crusts with soft tender inside. Love it all :)
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Five of the Best Sweet Treats to Try in Paris

  • Pit says:

    Hi Sabrina,
    I really like this posting. As with others you write, you have an eye for the differences between and the idiosyncrasies of the two nations/people.
    And re pastries, “Teilchen” as we used to call them: that’s why I always add a few punds of weight when I am back in Germany! ;) And like you, I regret that I’m unable to get good “Broetchen” here, and also no cold cuts as I was used to in Germany.
    Best regards,
    Pit
    Pit recently posted..Wildfires in Texas

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks Pit!! Teilchen :) We call them like that too! My favorite for the longest time used to be the Pudding-Teilchen. Do you have a Sun Harvest or Market Street where you live? It’s not the same as in Germany, but both have a better assortment of bread and Broetchen than most other stores I have been in. And both have foreign cold cuts and cheeses too – they focus more on Italian (for cold cuts) and French (for cheeses), but I can always find something good there.

      • Pit says:

        Hi Sabrina,
        So “Puddingteilchen” used to be your favourite. Well, it still is mine!
        Re “Sun Harvest”: there used to be one in San Antonio, but I don’t know if it still exists, as there was some talk of the chain being sold. I’ll have to check. When we’re looking for hearty bread, we usually go to the “Broadway Daily Bakery” or “Whole Foods”. The latter have a really good selection of cheeses, too. Plus an excellent selection of German beers.
        Re “excuse me”: I don’t mind hearing that ever so often, but what I do mind is people blocking the aisles and not even noticing they’re doing that and that you’re waiting to get through.
        Best regards, and have a great weekend,
        Pit
        Pit recently posted..England-Reise Frühjahr 2011 [96]

        • Sabrina says:

          Well, I still like them, but they’re not a clear favorite anymore. There are so many good things :) By the way, I just went to what used to be SunHarvest here. They are now called Sprouts. Weird name if you ask me.

  • Laurel says:

    This made me chuckle. I love the cheese counters in Germany. I eat more cheese living here than I ever have in my life. I also love the coffee and cake tradition. We usually do it on Saturday and go for a little walk. Regarding not weighing the veggies, made that mistake once. It was really embarrassing and the people in line behind me were not shy at showing that they were not pleased.
    Laurel recently posted..Solving Mysteries of the Starnberger See

    • Sabrina says:

      Haha! I know! Everybody just assumes that people know that they need to weigh their fruits and veggies and don’t feel bad about making you feel like crap. In Texas, people would at least pretend to be ok with waiting an extra few minutes :)

  • Jan says:

    I just saw that PB in Edeka…haven’t worked up the nerve to buy it yet! :-)
    Jan recently posted..In Search of Tostitos

    • Sabrina says:

      I’m sure you will when the cravings will really get to you in a few months or so :) Until then, my suggestion is to substitute it with Nutella – the German/European obsession instead of peanut butter ;)

    • Richard says:

      My wife said it tasted good. I didn’t even try it. I was too busy eating as much Aufschnitt and Brötchen to make up for not being able to find anything similar in Houston.

      • Sabrina says:

        I hear you! When I am Europe I stay away from all things American and instead try to eat as many of the things I cannot find in Texas :) If you live in Houston and are missing German things, you should check out http://www.germandeli.com. They are based in Dallas and shipping within Texas is not too bad…. By the way, I am not a affiliate even though they should pay me for mentioning them to everybody I know :)

  • Red Nomad OZ says:

    So … coffee & cake is a German tradition, huh?! Well, whatever! It’s made it downunder to OZ where we’ve adopted it as our own!!

    Have a great weekend! Although that’s an Aussie tradition …
    Red Nomad OZ recently posted..Random Adventure #3 – Dry Ground, Gales and the Great Crested Grebe! Lake Bindegolly, QLD

    • Sabrina says:

      Coffee and cake in the afternoon is not just a German tradition? I’m glad you guys have it in OZ too :) You’re honestly the first person to tell me that other countries do that too on a regular basis! How fun! Hope you had a great Aussie weekend ;) Mine was very American instead of German (food-wise) because we had brunch at a restaurants – and that included pancakes, bacon, eggs, and… wait for it… jalapeno cheese grits. Yummy!

      • Richard says:

        Just don’t try and visit four separate friends in a day in the Rhineland. You’ll be full of coffee and cake and unable to eat your lunch/dinner.

        • Sabrina says:

          So true!! I do the tour of visiting my grandparents, aunts, etc, and it’s the same everywhere: coffee and cake or at least some Broetchen. I now try to schedule visits over one of the main meals, so I don’t gain 10 kilos for every visit. Don’t you just love the Rheinland?!

  • Hey girl! Thanks for linking up to the hop this weekend. Hope you are enjoying your crunchy PB like no other, haha. Have a great one!
    TexaGermaNadian recently posted..Storytellers Blog Hop: September 2011

  • So interesting to see how grocery stores in different countries operate!
    Angela@BeggingTheAnswer recently posted..Some Moms Go To The Gym For Exercise. I Go To Story Time. Same Thing, Really.

  • Vapid Vixen says:

    I had no idea peanut butter was such a novelty over there. I honestly can’t even remember the last time I even ate peanut butter. I’m kind of craving it now. :)

    • Sabrina says:

      It is sort of a novelty. THE spread on bread? Nutella… which I still prefer over peanut butter by the way. But I’m coming around :)

  • Suzy says:

    I love the smell of breads in German supermarkets too! That is one area the US generally lacks, good breads. I laughed at your tip on how you should bag your groceries in Germany and quickly. I definitely had that moment in Germany a few years ago when I didn’t start bagging my groceries at lightening speed. The Germans are so fast in the check-out line!
    Suzy recently posted..The Outer Banks Wish You Were Here

    • Sabrina says:

      I know, people can be mean :) When I first moved to Texas, I couldn’t believe how slow people were putting their things on the little belt, the cashier slowly scans every items and even slower bags everything for you. Now, when I visit Germany I can barely keep up with the pace and often just shove things back in my cart, pay, and bag them somewhere where I am out of the way :)

  • Pit says:

    Hi Sabrina,
    As to the constant “excuse me” here in the supermarkets: sometimes I don’t know if it’s a sign of politeness or if it’s just uttered subconciously, but I like it. What sometimes annoys me in the supermarkets here, though, is the fact that people quite often block the aisles, chatting with each other, e.g., and comppletely disregard other people’s need to pass.
    Regards,
    Pit
    Pit recently posted..England-Reise Frühjahr 2011 [108]

    • Sabrina says:

      Good point. Probably subconsciously actually. Just give the chatting people a little shove and say “excuse me” ;)

  • Andrew says:

    I’ve seen little plastic coin things that aren’t a euro but work in the cards. I need to get me one of them. I usually carry the baskets around, even for tons of stuff.

    The weighing veggies isn’t everywhere. My local Rewe doesn’t have a scale. They do it US style weighing it on the register.

    I love the cheese counters too, but I don’t ever remember the name of the cheese that I like. I know there are some similar names, some of which I like and others I can’t stand. And yet I always seem to buy the wrong one. Lately I have just been buying cheddar.
    Andrew recently posted..Titisee, Schwartzwald

    • Sabrina says:

      Stick with Gouda and you can’t go wrong :) Yumm!! I like the idea of a plastic coin, but for some reason I never actually had one. Glad to hear that you’re local REWE is moving in the US direction re weighing veggies and fruit. That really makes it easier!

  • Karen Waters says:

    I laughed at your tip on how you should bag your groceries in Germany and quickly. Glad to hear that you’re local REWE is moving in the US direction re weighing veggies and fruit. I’m glad they’re exporting that system to the US.
    Karen Waters recently posted..Cancer Tattoos Tumblr

    • Sabrina says:

      So funny… yesterday, I went to a German supermarket again (just got here for vacation) and took my fruits in bags to the cashier… I only realized later that I didn’t weight them and was just hoping that they would weigh them up front… they did :)

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