Expat Guide to German Grocery Stores- 7 Things you may or may not have known about going grocery shopping in Germany.

A Typical German "Netto" Grocery Store (Image Credit: Flicker- thosch66)

1). Bring coins / Pay for your cart. If you want to use a shopping cart, prepare to leave a 50 cent to one Euro deposit (inside the machine itself) in order to detach the cart from the others. You will get your money back when you return it.

2). Weigh your own fruit. This rule varies depending on the store, but American’s beware- you are often required to weigh your own fruit at the grocery store. If you are supposed to and you forget to do so you might be in for an embarrassing situation at the check out counter. If this is the case you will see a small-computerized scale somewhere in the produce section. Put your fruit in a small plastic produce bag (these *are* provided), enter the fruit number (found on the paper attached to the scale, or near the fruit itself), and wait for a sticky paper to shoot out of the machine. Use said paper to seal your bag.

3). Keep Looking. Nothing will be where you expect to find it. Milk is found at room temperature on the shelf, baking soda is at the local pharmacy, and cough drops are in the candy section.

4). Bring your own bags. Grocery bags are not given out free of cost in Germany. You may choose to buy them, as needed, usually 5- 10 cents per plastic bag, but most people choose to bring their own. It’s not that hard to get used to and it’s much better for the environment. As a rule, I have at least one shopping bag in my purse at all times.

5). Pack your bags and get out of the way! Yes, in Germany the customer is always responsible for packing his or her own bags. You should learn to do this quickly, perhaps even practicing a few times a home, because you are expected to do faster than you would think is humanly possible. People in line, and sometimes even the clerks themselves will hurry you along if you fail to do so. I’ll mention here that one trick I have learnt is never to pay for your food until you are done packing. When the clerk announces your total, pretend you didn’t hear them and finish packing you bags before you reach for your pocket book- they can’t rush out until you pay.

6). Bring back your bottles! If your plastic or glass bottle says “Pfand” on it you are paying a hefty deposit for that bottle at the cash register- usually around 25 cents per bottle. You are expected to (and should) return these bottles when you are finished with them to the store you purchased them from in order to be refunded your money. This adds up!

7). Be patient. If you are an expat, going to the grocery store will take a lot longer than you are used to. Your days of a quick trip to the store are over. Submit to it, have fun with it and eventually it will become second nature.

4 Responses to “Expat Guide to German Grocery Stores- 7 Things you may or may not have known about going grocery shopping in Germany.”

  1. Traveling Mama writes:

    I’m looking forward to going to the grocery store in Germany. It’s one of my favorite things to do no matter where we go! I think my love language is food! LOL! Hope you guys are doing well! Hugs!

  2. Nina writes:

    Haha, it’s so interesting to see this through your eyes. Hope you have fun not only shopping, but also getting to know Germany. Hannover is a great place to start, I’d say 🙂 Best wishes from cold Heidelberg!

  3. Stephanie writes:

    I did not even realize I had to weigh my own produce! After reading this, I walked to Konsum and creepily stalked other customers in the produce section to see if/how they weighed their own fruits and veggies. I saw a man use the scale to weigh some apples, but I never saw a ticket emerge from the scale. I continued to watch as long as I could bear being a foreign onlooker, but didn’t ever see a ticket pop out of the scale. Imhave convinced myself I don’t need to weigh my produce at my Konsum… But I still need to investigate the produce scales closely. I bet there’s a button on it that I just don’t see. Like the “open door” button on the tram. Do Germans put important buttons in inconspicuous places, or is it just me?

  4. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    ha! not sure about the button placement thing. I know there are definitely stores in Germany where you do not have to weigh your own produce- both the Netto and Rewe by us are that way. So perhaps the new trend is not to weigh? 🙂

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